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Novel Pairings

Apr 21, 2020

Hey listeners! Today we’re talking about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As you probably know, this play ends tragically with the two star-crossed lovers taking their own lives. Today’s episode includes a conversation about using this play as a bridge to discuss mental health and suicide with high schoolers. We believe this is an important part of the conversation about this play, but if this topic is triggering for you, we recommend skipping ahead about 2 and a half minutes starting at minute 26 to minute. Alright, let’s get into the episode!


Today Chelsey and Sara are chatting about Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. This play is the perfect match for spring fever, and for many of us, it was our first encounter with Shakespeare. We share lots of thoughts on reading this play as freshmen in high school and later as English teachers. Plus, we have opinions on how Shakespeare should be read and taught in general. Listen in for book recommendations that capture the star-crossed lovers theme but don’t end quite so tragically. Our discussion includes:


  • How we may have misunderstood the main characters (11:58)
  • Why Mercutio is our favorite character (20:57)
  • Content warning: brief discussion on teaching suicide awareness as part of the Romeo and Juliet curriculum (26:10-29:00)
  • Why this play endures, and is still read in high schools (31:18)


Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic include an unexpected literary retelling and a few YA romances.


Today’s episode is brought to you by, the only audiobook company that allows you to purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite indie bookstore. You can get THREE audiobooks for $15 by clicking this link or by using code NOVELPAIRINGS at checkout.




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Shakespeare in Love Prologue

Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

Ian McKellen as King Lear

The American Player’s Theatre

10 Things I Hate About You

She’s the Man

Chelsey’s Pairings:

The Opposite of Always by Jason Reynolds (47:00)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (51:31)

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (55:41)


Sara’s Pairings:

The Shakespeare Miscellany by Ben and David Crystal (45:41)

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (49:02)

Circe by Madeline Miller (53:06)


Sara: Don’t Quill the Messenger podcast 

Chelsey: No Holds Bard “So You’re Going to See Shakespeare” podcast episodes