What I have been reading
The Knight's Tale (US link) I will never forget the first time I read this. So compelling you can get lost in it in one reading, even if you are a little rusty on your Middle English. I once told a group of eight-year-olds a paraphrased version from memory, and they were mesmerised. What better review can you get than that.
Kings, Christopher Logue (US link) I will never get bored of this book, even though I far prefer the Odyssey as a rule. I've been reading it for fifteen years and it still feels fresh as new each time. Last time I gave a copy of War Music (the bigger collection that Kings is part of) to a friend he started to quoting it to me next time we met, and he bought a copy for his family. Recommended.
Keats, Amy Lowell A two-volume biography that works well to move around in, using the index liberally. Written by a poet about a poet it gives a much more forthright and professional-insider account of Keats than usual. It's easy to agree or disagree with Lowell, which is good. She also gives the much-needed woman's perspective on what a useless boyfriend Keats was. Lowell was a devotee of Keats from a young age and worked so hard on this she damaged her eyesight. You know when she's speculating and when she isn't and it's a vivid read. Keats, of course, was a sort-of proto Imagist: "The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass." I got my copies on BookFinder for about £12 each.
Delights & Shadows (US link) and The Poetry Home Repair Kit, Ted Kooser (US link) One of the best ways to understand a poet is to read their book about how to write poetry, which is what I did with Ted Kooser while I was reading his poetry. I wouldn't be surprised if the various books about how to be a poet have collectively produced no professional poets. But they do give you a great insight into the priorities and beliefs of any particular poet and are worth more than most criticism you will read about them. Delights & Shadows is a marvellous book, especially 'Mother'.
Transgressions, Jack Gilbert (US link) Who better than Jack Gilbert. "The best is often when nothing is happening." Read my micro-anthology of his poetry here. This is a selected poems, and I think in the US only the collected is available.
Doctor Zhivago, (US link) I am still living with this book. It's one of the best novels I've read for years. It has gasp factor. The chapters are short and concentrated. It is epic. Full of love war suffering and fate. Poetic. Historical but not history fiction. Short on philosophising. Long on meaning. Compelling. Read it.