Some writers cloy the appetites they feed, but others make hungry where most they satisfy.

In my 20s my Shakespeare habit was getting out of control: I read, watched at the theater, sat through countless TV adaptations — even listened to every last Shakespeare play unabridged on cassette. The most famous plays — including favorites such as "The Merchant of Venice" and "Antony and Cleopatra" — I revisited on perhaps a dozen occasions.

By my 30s, I'd decided that enough was enough and I really needed to move on. There was, after all, more to life than Shakespeare. I thought I should explore Ben Jonson or Christopher Marlowe, or have a stab at watching some Schiller, but it was so hard to break the habit. After all, the Shakespeare drug was so readily available and so potent. Despite my best intentions, it didn't take much to get me back on it.