Pop Sonnets

Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 06 Oct 2015 | Archive Date 13 Dec 2015


The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets.

All your favorite songs are here, including hits by Jay-Z, Johnny Cash, Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, Talking Heads, and many others. With stirring sentiments on everything from love and despair to wanton women, Pop Sonnets offers inspirational verse for every occasion.
The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets.

All your favorite songs are here, including hits by Jay-Z, Johnny Cash, ...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781594748288
PRICE $13.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

Send to Kindle (PDF)

Average rating from 157 members

Featured Reviews


Was this review helpful?

A really fun book. I wasn't familiar with the blog that this is based on, so they were all new to me. I loved going through it trying to guess which songs were being referenced before looking to see which one they were. Some sections were harder than others - the Sonnets of Despair proved particularly hard to match to their originals, as it became clear that all depressing songs about failed romances are pretty similar.
When you do work out what they are, this often leads to impromptu grinning, so be forewarned if you're planning on reading this in public!

Was this review helpful?

Are you a lover of Shakespeare and the song "Call Me Maybe" ? Do you love a catchy pop song, but still want to maintain your English major cred? Never fear, Pop Sonnet by Erik Didriksen is here.

The book divides itself into sections such as "Sonnets of Love," "Sonnets of Despair" and "Songs of Time and Morality." The end section, like any good work of Shakespearean literature also includes a search option for individual lines. It is difficult not to love the Shakespearean version of a Rick-Roll or the word-carving illustrations scattered throughout the book. I found myself scanning for my favorites before calling friends and reciting them at my leisure.

This book also works really well if you're trying to find something to write a love letter based off of.

Pop Sonnets is available from Quirk Books October 6, 2015.

Was this review helpful?

The best collection of sonnets since Shakespeare's. This is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of converted pop songs. Not only entertaining, but a great tool for the teaching of poetry.

Was this review helpful?

I wanted to read this book because, on occasion, I write pub quizzes and I am always looking for new approaches to the traditional music round. I sneaked a few of these into a quiz I hosted last night and they were the highlight of the night. (And since most of the other questions were deemed to be 'very evil' they were very welcome). I will certainly be suggesting this as a 'thinking man's' Christmas humour title this year.

Was this review helpful?

This is a complete delight, and an awesome teaching tool to support students crossing over the literacy bridge from the known to the new when introducing Shakespeare. There's a parlor game appeal to trying to guess the song from its sonnet form (would that the song titles and artists were better obscured to afford such a guessing game). This is more than parody; wisps of Shakespeare's real sonnets and plays are threaded throughout cleverly, and can beautifully support comprehension of the original material. It can also serve as a mentor text for the very common instructional practice of sonnet writing. It draws authentic connections between Shakespeare and contemporary music along core eternal themes of love and loss; anyone who argues (as has been showcased in the popular press recently) that Shakespeare is irrelevant to modern kids needs to read this and see how clearly these sonnets capture the Shakespearean voice and repurpose some of the "greatest hits" of language from his major works to illuminate just how timeless Shakespeare's themes are.

Was this review helpful?

Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I teach high school English, and I will find some way to use this in my classroom. I have the beginnings of an assignment forming in my head. LOVED IT! The book takes both classic and contemporary songs and transforms them into Shakespearean sonnets. If you just thought, “Who’d want to read that” the answer is “YOU!” I am always trying to relate the classics to modern high school teenagers, but this book does the reverse. It relates modern songs to sonnets.

I’m an English teacher with a passion for British Literature, but my husband is not. However, he even enjoyed the book. I read the sonnets, and he guessed the songs. His favorite was “Folson Prison Blues.”

LOVED IT!!!! Wish there was a like button.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

A-MAZ-ING!!! As a high school English teacher I am always looking for fun ways to get students excited about Shakespeare. This book provides both classic and contemporary songs and correlates them with themes from Shakespeare's sonnets. I was immediately figuring out ways to implement this into my classroom. Some of my favorites include, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Thriller," "Piano Man," "Call Me Maybe," and so many more! Highly recommend this book for every English teacher and any bibliophile. Can't wait to buy it!

Was this review helpful?

This is an interesting and fun collections of pop songs turned sonnet. It caters to a wide audience to those who are interested in music, Shakespeare/sonnets, and pop culture. I believe this book can be used in classrooms to help students become more interested in Shakespeare or as a possibly display option to guess what song the sonnet is. Overall a wonderful title I'd recommend for all libraries.

Was this review helpful?

What a fun read. Loved the idea for this book. As an educator I find it increasingly difficult to compete with modern technology to reach my students passion for learning. As I was reading through the book my mind was racing with all of the ways I could use this in my classroom. I would love some additional information regarding how song writers used Shakespeare's sonnets to inspire them.

Was this review helpful?

Clever, imaginative, inventive!! This is a fantastic book for adults and teenagers alike, covering a wide range of pop songs, old and new.

This book could be given as a Christmas present, used as a teaching resource to help students studying Shakespeare or enjoyed in quiz format - I'll name that tune in ...

Humorous and witty!

Was this review helpful?

Delightful! The perfect bridge between Shakespeare and modern music. We had a great time one evening reading these out loud as a group and they spoke to the poetry person and the rock star with the same amount of joy.

Was this review helpful?

Pop Sonnets is so well written it's almost not funny, but so well adapted and so identifiable to the original songs, you can't help but laugh. It has a wonderful range of music, from oldies my parents bombarded me with growing up to the newest songs out there. Cudos, Didrikson, for including Rebecca Black's "Friday. "

My friends and I have plans to use this to challenge each other on how well we know our music. Presently, they refuse to hear any more sonnets until we play the game. They don't want to be disqualified. I, of course, will have to be the reader. Thank you for this!

If I don't buy a copy for myself, I certainly will for my junior high school. It fits the poetry curriculum from basic poetry to Shakespeare.

Was this review helpful?

I think this book would be an excellent resource for any reading/writing teacher in middle and high school grades. I think if you used it as a mentor text you could use the actual lyrics of the song to the pop sonnets, students would get a much better picture of Shakespearean writing than from a normal textbook.

I thought it was fun and light to read, especially some of the newer songs.

Was this review helpful?

One of the coolest books I have ever read. As a fan of Shakespeare and pop songs I have a right to say this was awesome.

Was this review helpful?

I don't have much to say about this book other than it was ridicuously fun to read. How Erik Didreksen has managed to escape my interest thus far is completely beyond me, as his book basically encapsulates everything that is great about Shakespeare, and everything that is great about pop music (which I love unabashedly). I had a particularly fun time reading the poems and, if I had it on my iPod, listening to the song after. My particular favourites were '500 Miles' by The Proclaimers, 'No Scrubs' by TLC, and 'Single Ladie (Put A Ring On It' by Beyoncé. All songs should be read out loud for extra fun.

If you're into Shakespeare and/or pop music then you will LOVE this. It would probably be a fantastic way to introduce Shakespeare's poetry to students as well, as reading familiar songs in the poetic context could help make sense of the language of Shakespeare's time. I'm no teacher though, so take that advice with a grain of salt.

Was this review helpful?

This is, without doubt, one of the funniest books I've read in a while. I'm a sucker for anything that plays with Shakespeare and/or modern culture -- and plays with it well -- in such a way that's just downright clever. And hilarious.

Was this review helpful?

This is great fun, I did not know what to expect but this is good, a book to dip into at various time and some information and sonnets to impress my friends with. Some of the songs I did not know but others I was very familiar with and yes, yes they do ring bells. It isn't a book to read from cover to cover but to flick and find, and flick and find and before you know it you are hooked and have read most of the sonnets. Fun

Was this review helpful?

The very content of Pop Sonnets is something so completely new and different that a traditional review just seems silly.

Still, Pop Sonnets is divided into five sections, each filled with fun and entertaining sonnets in the style of Shakespeare. I read a few a day so I didn't get burned out, but it was so fun trying to guess each song that burnout wasn't really an issue. It was also really fun to read the sonnets aloud and have other people try to guess.

I don't consider myself a huge poetry fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through each sonnet. It was also great to discover Didriksen's companion website that he continually updates. This book is definitely a hit with me, and something delightfully quirky that I can recommend to almost anyone with even a hint of interest in music.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book.

This book was such a fun, easy quick read. I loved the idea of pop songs being 'translated' into Shakespearen 'songs' I guess you could say. The author did a terrific job and overall it was funny.

Was this review helpful?

I am a fan of both pop culture and Shakespeare, and as I read this collection I instantly thought of many people I would send it to as a gift. These sonnets are clever versions of familiar (well, mostly familiar) pop songs, and I would enjoy showing some of these to friends and having them try to guess the song. I am also recommending it to my middle school colleagues, who could use several as examples and then have students create their own from the latest radio hits. (I can totally imagine doing this with "Shut Up and Dance" or "Riptide.")

Was this review helpful?

Really fun and clever book that makes a great after dinner game - reading the sonnets out and trying to guess the song! Would make an excellent gift, and I hugely recommend it.

Was this review helpful?

This book is so fun! The sonnets are so cleverly done; this was a joy to read. This would be an excellent resource for educators and teen librarians to use to get young adults interested in Shakespeare.

Was this review helpful?

I love Shakespeare in all of his wonderful, iambic pentameter. I've had the privilege of growing up surrounded by a father who believes in the power of the written and spoken word; I'm even named after one of Shakespeare's characters. So it was pretty much a given that I would devour this collection of reimagined pop songs, and I wasn't disappointed.

Didriksen does the Bard proud with his creations. Every song is a fun adventure; whether you're familiar with the song, or not. I particularly enjoyed trying to guess which song each sonnet was based off of as I read them. Yes, some of the sonnets were more well rounded and composed than others, but all of them together made for an entertaining read.

This is a book I would like to add to my library, and one which I can see myself picking up at random moments to read a sonnet or three.

Was this review helpful?

This clever book is a lot of fun. Didriksen does a great job of translating pop songs in Shakespearean sonnets. I did not know all of the songs, but about 3/4 of them were familiar enough that I figured out which song was being rendered. I can see how this book would be a great tool for middle school through junior high English teachers to introduce Shakespeare and sonnets to their students.

Because I was reviewing an unedited proof, I did not get to fully appreciate the formatting but in the actual book,I imagine it is much more impressive.

Over all, this slim book is a lot of fun.

Was this review helpful?

This was an interesting and hilarious little read. The individual sonnets offer a quick read for those on the go who don't have time to get lost in a book, but still want to enjoy reading. The content makes this a great book for teens who will be interested in the "translations" of the their favorite artists. The songs include older hits as well making this a fun read for all ages and a great tool for Trivia Nights at the library.

My only hesitation comes from the introduction to the book. It indicates that the contents were all original Shakespearian sonnets which were later adapted into songs, rather than the songs having been adapted into sonnets. While the introduction appears to be all in good fun, there is no disclaimer anywhere else in the content of the book. This could lead to some confusion over the contents of the book, especially for younger readers.

I do intend to add this title to my library's collection, despite the misleading introduction. I think that my teens will enjoy trying to figure out which songs the sonnets are taken from and will have fun testing their pop knowledge themselves.

Was this review helpful?

It's a really interesting concept. I just thought it was really fun to flick through and read some of them.

Was this review helpful?

I LOVE POP SONNETS! I'm a British Literature teacher so of course i've been showing these to my students for a while now but it's so nice to have a collection of them. Definitely picking this up to add to my classroom when it comes out in October.

Was this review helpful?

This is simply marvelous. I'm already telling people to put their orders in - they're going to want their own copies. Perfect for my "Strange and Wonderful Little Books" display!

Was this review helpful?

Erik Didrekson's Pop Sonnets is the perfect marriage of Shakespeare and Pop Music I didn't know I needed in my life. It was both well written and funny. I already have favorite passages marked to share with friends to convince them they have to get this book. At the risk of sounding like a big nerd, this book will be awesome at parties. I definitely recommend it.

Was this review helpful?

Clever, very clever.

And in proper rhyming structure *and* iambic pentameters (yes, I counted; not for every single sonnet, but I still counted, just to make sure).

This collection of 100 famous songs—some dating back to the mid-20th centuries, some much more recent—revisited as Shakespearian sonnets was very funny to read, as well as interesting: the poetry does respect the form, appropriates some lines from actual plays (“the winter of our disco tent”), and translates modern concepts into Elizabethan wording. Guitars become lutes, cars become coaches… However, the content of the songs is very easy to recognise. Here’s an example from "Roxanne" by The Police:

“Pray, do not put those bawdy vestments on or paint that vulgar rouge across thy face;
thou needest not those wanton garments don nor with that ruddy brush thy cheeks debase.
I beg thee to this sordid life forego:
turn not a trick, but prithee turn the page!
O, dear Roxanne, thou dost not need to go into that den of sin to earn thy wage.”

Compare with the song’s lyrics, and there you have it. In general, although the sonnets don’t include *all* lines ("Bohemian Rhapsody", for instance, would be hard to translate in only 14 lines), mostly they really fit their songs counterparts.

Of course, the “downside” is that, to fully enjoy this book, you have to a) be a Shakespeare geek of sorts, and b) know the songs and their lyrics. Without that, odds are it won’t be as amusing, or at least not more than “heh, nice”. On the other hand, it’s also a good opportunity to go and discover/listen to the songs one knows less.

I spent a merry good time reading this book, and I highly recommend it to whoever likes Shakespeare, famous songs, and wants to have a laugh. Not to mention to have fun with friends and/or try to find the real Shakespearian lines in there.

Was this review helpful?

This could be the greatest thing I've ever read. It might not have been a great thing to read while sick because I was laughing so hard, I would start coughing. But I digress...

I love me some Shakespeare and pop music is sort of a guilty pleasure, so I was really eager to see what this book had in store for me. It absolutely didn't disappoint.

Songs from Christina Aguilera and Taylor Swift, to Guns N' Roses and Black Sabbath to Rhianna and Jay Z are included. There's even some Journey and Boston as well. I had so much fun trying to figure out what song it was before getting to the end.

This will definitely be a book I need sitting on my shelf.

**Huge thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**

Was this review helpful?

Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen is clever, amusing, and on point. Shakespeare takes on Billy Joel, Green Day, Nicki Minaj and more in this collection of pop sonnets. I found myself singing them to the tune of the original songs in my head, and that made the book just that much more enjoyable! You can find a collection of the sonnets here. This is just a fun idea, very well put together, loved it!

Was this review helpful?

Pop Sonnets is a cute, quirky little book. Didriksen takes popular songs from over the years, oldies through today’s hits, and Shakepereanizes them, with the appropriate vocabulary and meter. There are few books I read parts of out loud to my husband, but this was one of them. It’s fun to see how he takes songs we know and transforms them.

Here are the opening lines of a couple of my favorites:

Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Sweet Child o’ Mine”

Her smile, it doth recall a simpler time –
the bygone years when I was but a boy;
each day held some discovery sublime,
each exploration brought some newfound joy.

Spin Doctors, “Two Princes”

Two noblemen before thee genuflect,
entreating thee in ernest for thy hand.
The first, he garners riches and respect;
the other’s only flights of fancy plann’d.

Hmm, showing my age there, aren’t I?

The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” is immediately recognizable.

I drove my carriage o’er the darken’d road when faintly I observ’d a distant inn.
When I arriv’d, their greeting did forbode the vile debauchery I found within.

But for a lot of them it becomes a kind of guessing game, even if the ending couplet often gives them away. He also showcases songs by Ariana Grande, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruno Mars, etc. I think it’s a fun book for just about anyone, a good read aloud with at least some songs most folks will recognize. The perfect audience loves Shakespeare and knows both the oldies and the music of now, but that’s probably a rare breed.

I think this would make a good Christmas gift. It’s the kind of book I enjoy, but probably wouldn’t buy myself.

Was this review helpful?

One of the most clever, different and interesting books I have ever read. Funny, and one of those unique books that made me want to share it with everybody around so that they could enjoy it too. That is the best way I can describe this book.

I liked all the sonnets but some of them got to my heart more than others maybe because of the meaning specific songs have for me. I like how a spin of a song that I have listened hundreds of times can make me see it in a different way. Sonnets of love, despair, time and mortality, heroes, rogues. I think this book is a brilliant interpretation or presents a very different perspective of 100 popular rock and pop songs.

I also like that I can see all the effort and hard work the Author put into this book. It is always appreciated when a writer delivers a wonderful book with great quality and professionalism. It surpassed my expectations and I am glad I read it.

If you like Shakespeare, music and are looking for a brilliant and funny book, I totally recommend Pop Sonnets.

Thank you Netgalley and Quirkbooks for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This collection of sonnets is fantastic for hip lovers of English literature. The sonnets are a fusion of pop culture subject and Renaissance poetic form. I think they are hilarious and I'm going to keep a copy of this one on my bookshelf at school where I teach English Literature 12. My high school kids will get a kick out of these.

Was this review helpful?

I really liked this one. It started with just the idea, combining Shakespearian poetry and modern pop song lyrics, and, perhaps a little bit to my own surprise, it worked really well.

It's a great mix of new and older songs, so I think everyone will at least be able to recognize the poems for some of the songs. I personally also really liked to search the songs I didn't immediately recognized and to listen to them while reading the poems.

I'd not previously heard of the Tumblr account that post a poem a week, but most of poems are pretty clever and it's not just a nice idea. The executions is good as well. The only thing is obviously that you must like Shakespeare, or else this is going to be an awkward read.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Was this review helpful?

Funny, clever, and a great book to test kids with.

Was this review helpful?

This is the perfect book for new years eve fun. Gather a bunch of friends and try to guess the song! It has been so much fun to try and figure out. The one organizing it must censor the book a bit though as the titles and artists are named right there with the song. I would not have had a problem with an index in the back only with the description.
There are some nice Shakespearean images added in the book for the better atmosphere. It was fun too to try and sing these lyrics along with originals on Youtube.If you want to get a taste head over to the Pop Sonnets Tumblr

Was this review helpful?

This book is hilarious. It really makes Shakespeare work easier to understand since we know the songs so well.

Was this review helpful?

You have to skip some of this book, I guess, unless you know each and every entry well, but for those that you do recognise it's surprisingly fine. Taking the sentiment, the narrative structure and in many instances the very words of well-known, and sometimes much-loved pop songs, and turning them into Shakespearean sonnets does sound a daft undertaking, but the end results are a lot better than you might fear. As a humorous gift book this is really fun and quotable, but as an actual book of poetry it's also great – due to the diverse sources the contents are supremely varied, well-thought-through, and really quite clever. If only so many weren't to act as their own poem, leaving the last two lines to riddle-me-this towards the song – yay for scrolling only so far down so you can't tell what the modern equivalent is. Yes it's a mash-up of the daftest kind, but it'd be very welcome on my shelves.

Was this review helpful?

Absolutely lovely! I am definitely buying a copy once it's in print.

Was this review helpful?

This book is a lot of fun. All of the sonnets were very clever and well written. Strangely enough, I also felt like it made the lyrics to pop songs more understandable. I recommend hiding the titles and having you or someone else try and identify the song from the sonnet.

Was this review helpful?

4.5/5 Stars

I really enjoyed this. I read it straight through in one evening and found myself laughing out loud a few times. I didn’t realize, when I started reading, that this whole thing actually started online (on tumblr, if I’m not mistaken) and was then published later. According to the description on goodreads, over half of the sonnets in this book have not been published anywhere else.

I haven’t heard every song, but most, and the ones I’m more familiar with were the ones I would read the first line or two from and almost bounce up off my chair to shout the name of it. (I’m only a little ashamed of the fact that sometimes I read like I’m on a game show.) I think this book would be great to break out with some friends and take turns reading out loud to see who can guess the song. A few are really, really obvious because of a distinctive name or something, but there were a couple I had to re-read to get because I didn’t remember the lyrics of the song well enough.

I like poetry, I like sonnets, and I like music. This book was perfect for the mood I was in and I hope to see more of these in the future. I highly recommend this one, and I’m probably going to buy a physical copy because I feel like it deserves a place on my poetry shelf.

Also reviewed on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1545558657

And WordPress: https://caffeinatedbibliophile2.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/review-pop-sonnets/

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: