Booktalk: To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

To Be Or Not To Be Cover

If you follow Kickstarter news, then you’ve definitely heard of this book and you or your library might already have a copy of it.  In 2012, Ryan North started a Kickstarter campaign to fund this book, and it turned into the #1 most funded publishing project on Kickstarter (full disclosure: I’m one of those many backers, which is how I got my own copy).  In fact, several of the stretch goals included donating copies to schools and libraries, which is why your library may already have a copy.  But if you don’t already have a copy through Kickstarter, it is available to purchase through the usual channels, as well.

To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure would be most appreciated by high school students or adults, since they are most likely to be familiar with the original source material.  Basically, it would be a great book to share with Shakespeare fans, with people who were forced to read Shakespeare in school, and with fans of the choose-your-own-adventure format.

Oh, and I have a brief booktalking note: when I was first writing this booktalk, one of the ideas I had was to read aloud some of the choices that are available in the book.  I decided to go in a different direction, but I still think that it’s a good idea.  So another way that you could approach this booktalk would be to give a brief introduction of the concept of the book, and then read aloud some of the choices in the book (make sure you mark off the pages with page markers or sticky notes first for easier reading!)  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • (p. 11) Go murder your uncle: turn to page 195
  • (p. 36) Show her how non-murderous you are by killing whoever’s behind the curtain: turn to page 294
  • (p. 203) Become a ghost: turn to page 636 / Do not become a ghost: turn to page 633
  • (p. 211) Step from the shadows and introduce yourself dramatically: turn to page 250
  • (p. 251) Turn into a gamma-irradiated monster: turn to page 274
  • (p. 413) Shout “I’m not a murderer!!” then throw the book as hard as you can at Hamlet’s head, tell the court “I regret nothing” and make a break for it: turn to page 421

ETA: As you may have noticed, there are two small issues with this episode.  The first issue is that I left off the opening music, which is entirely my fault (but in my defense I’m still in vacation mode).  The other issue is that my description of this episode isn’t currently showing up in iTunes.  I think it has something to do with a technical issue that the Quick Blogcast gurus are currently trying to resolve.  Anyway … um … onward and upward?


Spoiler Alert: Prince Hamlet learns the identity of his father’s murderer, he seeks revenge, and by the end of the story a LOT of people are dead.

But does the story HAVE to wind up that way?

What if the characters made different choices?  What if Hamlet’s father decided not to come back as a ghost?  Or what if he decided to get his own revenge, rather than making his son do it?  What if Ophelia wanted to confront the ghost herself?  Or what if she decided that dating Hamlet was too much trouble and she just broke up with him instead?  What if Hamlet was so depressed by all his family drama that he decided to kill himself?  Or what if he skipped the whole revenge thing, married Ophelia, and lived happily ever after?

YOU decide what happens next!

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