11 Contemporary Retellings of Classic Literature

June 16 2015
Share 11 Contemporary Retellings of Classic Literature

Some stories are so moving, so ubiquitous, that we can’t get them out of our collective mind—Shakespeare, Jane Austen, childhood fairy tales. These pieces of literature are undeniable classics.

These inspired authors have reimagined beloved novels and iconic characters in a fresh way. They delve deeply into these well-loved favorites and use them as jumping off points to explore new settings, eras, and characters. Here are eleven of our favorite contemporary retellings of classic literature.

A Thousand Acres
by Jane Smiley

An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twentieth century, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride, and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
A Thousand Acres
Jane Smiley

An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twentieth century, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride, and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
The Sixteenth of June
by Maya Lang

A finely observed, wry social satire set in Philadelphia over the course of a single day, this debut novel, which is a nod to James Joyce’s celebrated classic Ulysses, is about the secrets we keep and the lengths we go to for acceptance and love.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo
The Sixteenth of June
Maya Lang

A finely observed, wry social satire set in Philadelphia over the course of a single day, this debut novel, which is a nod to James Joyce’s celebrated classic Ulysses, is about the secrets we keep and the lengths we go to for acceptance and love.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Boy, Snow, Bird
by Helen Oyeyemi

This widely acclaimed novel brilliantly recasts the fairy tale Snow White as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. It boldly confronts the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Boy, Snow, Bird
Helen Oyeyemi

This widely acclaimed novel brilliantly recasts the fairy tale Snow White as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. It boldly confronts the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
On Beauty
by Zadie Smith

Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith’s reputation as a major literary talent. Smith notes that she “has taken Howards End, that marvelous tale of class difference, and upped the ante by adding race, politics, and gender.”

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
On Beauty
Zadie Smith

Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith’s reputation as a major literary talent. Smith notes that she “has taken Howards End, that marvelous tale of class difference, and upped the ante by adding race, politics, and gender.”

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
The Hours
by Michael Cunningham

In this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, Michael Cunningham draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Hours
Michael Cunningham

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel turned Oscar-winning film is a profound story of how three generations of women were transformed by Virginia Woolf’s distinguished work Mrs. Dalloway.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Going Bovine
by Libba Bray

All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel or possible hallucination who sets him on a quest paralleling that of Don Quixote.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Going Bovine
Libba Bray

All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel or possible hallucination who sets him on a quest paralleling that of Don Quixote.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Wicked
by Gregory Maguire

Based on L. Frank Baum’s beloved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Gregory Maguire’s novel views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker lens. Brilliantly inventive, it offers a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Wicked
Gregory Maguire

Based on L. Frank Baum’s beloved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Gregory Maguire’s novel views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker lens. Brilliantly inventive, it offers a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Bridget Jones's Diary
by Helen Fielding

Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, this laugh-out-loud chronicle charts a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single girl on a permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between her Singleton friends and the Smug Marrieds, Bridget struggles to keep her life on an even keel—or at least afloat.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Bridget Jones's Diary
Helen Fielding

Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, this laugh-out-loud chronicle charts a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single girl on a permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between her Singleton friends and the Smug Marrieds, Bridget struggles to keep her life on an even keel—or at least afloat.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Longbourn
by Jo Baker

Jo Baker’s novel is a completely different take on Pride and Prejudice. Mentioned only fleetingly in Jane Austen’s classic, the servants take center stage in this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to the beloved novel and dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Regency England.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Longbourn
Jo Baker

Jo Baker’s novel is a completely different take on Pride and Prejudice. Mentioned only fleetingly in Jane Austen’s classic, the servants take center stage in this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to the beloved novel and dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Regency England.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski

In this extraordinary retelling of HAMLET, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote Wisconsin. Although born mute, Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
David Wroblewski

In this extraordinary retelling of HAMLET, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote Wisconsin. Although born mute, Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close
Warm Bodies
by Isaac Marion

In this unexpected retelling of Romeo and Juliet, R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. And then he meets Julie, a blast of living color in his gray landscape. However, their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo
Warm Bodies
Isaac Marion

In this unexpected retelling of Romeo and Juliet, R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. And then he meets Julie, a blast of living color in his gray landscape. However, their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

New in Paperback: 9 October Reads More Exhilarating Than a Haunted House

By Alice Martin | October 18, 2021

Authors as Magicians: 8 Books That’ll Cast a Spell on You

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 15, 2021

Staff Picks: 10 Classic Novels We Truly Enjoyed Reading for School

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 14, 2021

10 Immersive Series to Hunker Down with This Fall

By Alice Martin | October 13, 2021

10 Evocative Thrillers with the Power to Break Your Heart

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | October 12, 2021

10 Historical Novels Perfect for Crisp Autumn Nights

By Chris Gaudio | October 11, 2021

Close

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.