The ultimate epic poem, detailing the exploits of Beowulf battling with a variety of Nordic monsters. It has everything: dragons, crazed monsters, kings, and copious amounts of mead. It is an epic poem defined, in that the hero travels great distances and fights against insurmountable odds to do battle against said monsters and dragons.
Long beloved by high school students for injecting a splash of gore into usually staid English classes, everyone should give this epic a read-through at least once in their life.
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Heaney's translation would still be my pick for casual reading, though.more
Add to that it's a swashbuckling story from the heroic to the unbearably sad and it just sweeps you away. Takes a bit of concentration, but that's no bad thing in a book.more