Actually, I have many favourite books I’ve read over the years. My current No1 is The Oxford Book of English Verse. I have been reading a poem a day for the past year. The idea is to commit myself to reading all kinds of poetry and not just cherry pick the ones I fancy at first glance. This discipline has meant I have discovered some marvels of literature from the 13th century onwards. I’m currently working my way through the 16th century poetry of George Herbert, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and many others.
Because this anthology doesn’t provide the reader with a literary analysis or historical context the poems are not always easy to fully understand. Wikipedia often comes to the rescue with its excellent biographies of the poets and accounts of English history throughout the ages.
A surprising number of obscure poems are available to listen to on YouTube. Some are recited by earnest American high school students, others by famous English actors like Sir John Gielgud.
The blurb says,
Here is a treasure-house of over seven centuries of English poetry, chosen and introduced by Christopher Ricks, whom Auden described as ‘exactly the kind of critic every poet dreams of finding’. The Oxford Book of English Verse has established itself as the foremost anthology of English poetry: ample in span, liberal in the kinds of poetry presented.
This is my somewhat battered copy:
What is your favourite book?