[Portable Poetry ...poems for your pocket]












[The book printer - Amman]

The book is not dead!

Oh, you already knew that.

Well, I couldn't think of anything better to put at the top of this page. Initially, I was going to lecture you about why it's so great to be alive in this day and age, given that we have access to all the learning, knowledge, and art of previous generations, in the form of books but that's not very catchy, is it?

Anyway, virtually all of these books are on my bookshelf (a couple are on my to buy list.) If you have a recommendation for a book that isn't here, or if you can think of something that you think I might enjoy, then

Poetry Books
Reference Books
Books on Books!
Computer/Web Books
My Favourite Books

Poetry Books

Because I'm lazy (there, now you know the terrible truth), I'm not going to list here all the sources I used when entering the texts I use for Portable Poetry. Here are just a few books I've used and found particularly useful.
The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, Kermode & Hollander (general editors), Oxford Univeristy Press
This isn't a strictly poetry book but it does contain a lot of poetry. It covers the literary output of Great Britain and Ireland from the middle ages to the twentieth century. It exists in two versions - either in two thumping great big volumes or in six more manageable tomes. I'm not 100 percent sure if this work is still actually in print because I've had a hell of a job trying to find all the volumes in my local bookshops but I think it is. Anyway, this is a superb work with excellent notes, critical discussions, and a huge number of poets and authors. I consult it all the time. Go on, make your bookshelf happy!
The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Ferguson, Salter, Stallworthy (editors), Norton
For many people, this is the reference work in terms of academic poetry anthologies. I have a copy (4th edition) on my desk and use it quite a lot but this said, I'm not that mad on it. Its good points are it contains a lot of poetry, including work by American authors, and it's so widely used and easily-available that you're bound to be able to pick up a cheap second-hand copy. However, with the exception of the footnotes, the critical and editorial content is virtually non-existent (in contrast to the Oxford Anthology) and the spelling has been uniformised a little too rigourously for my liking. Take it or leave it (I took it.)

Reference Books

I'm always looking out for decent reference works. I use them mainly to put together the footnotes or get a little background information on something that's caught my eye. Remember to also look at the reference section in the links page.
The Bible, Authorized King James version, with apocrypha, Oxford World's Classics
Well, this has to be at the top of the list. I hope no one is insulted by my putting this among the "reference" works. Of course, it's much more than but a measure of this book's influence is that it can be classed as a reference work. Essential.
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Fowler, Fowler (editors) Clarendon Press, Oxford
Everyone has a favourite dictionary and mine is the Oxford. Not necessarily, the "concise" (though who said that 1400 pages is concise) - that just happens to be the one I have on my desk. Mine is the eighth edition - I picked it up secondhand. It's pretty rare that I come across a word that isn't in here (though it does happen). Some proper nouns too, but I wish it had more (that's my only gripe!)
Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, Penguin
This isn't really a reference work in that you're not going to dip into it for the purposes of shedding light on some literary puzzle but it's an important, necessary, vital, indispensable, key, fundamental, crucial (okay, I think you get the idea) work in its own right. In a way, Roget's Thesaurus is like a map of the English language. Get yourself a copy and you'll never be stuck for le mot juste again.
The Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, Skeat, Wordsworth Refernce, Wordsworth
This is basically a photostat of a book first published in 1884. Excellent. I use it in two ways: either to trace the etymology of a word or as a dictionary. Fascinating - definitely the sort of book you can dip into. Cheap too.
The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, Chevalier, Gheerbrant (translated by Buchanan-Brown), Penguin
Translation of a classic French work. Explanation of symbols and emblems from all over the world, and of all different types (religious, Freudian, artistic etc.) I haven't found that much use for it in my work with Portable Poetry, but it's nice to know it's there. I'm sure it'll come in useful one day.
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Brewer, Wordsworth Refernce, Wordsworth
A very useful reference work. Not really a dictionary or a cyclopaedia, but something in between the two. Where all other reference works let you down, this often turns up trumps. Also a good dip-into sort of book.
The Penguin History of the World, Roberts, Penguin
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to history so a couple of years ago I bought this book with the intention of bettering myself by reading it from cover to cover. An excercise that was doomed to failure from the start but I got through two thirds of the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I use it as a reference work. I'm not sure how it rates as world history books go but I enjoyed it and it has plenty of glowing reviews on the cover by people I've never heard of (so it must be good, right?)
The Oxford Companion to English Literature, Drabble, Oxford
This was a Christmas present from my brother and sister-in-law a few years ago. Lots of background information on (mainly but not exclusively) English-language writers and their works. I don't use it much for Portable Poetry but it's nonetheless a useful book to have on hand.
Who's Who in the Ancient World, Radice, Penguin
I am deeply indebted to this book. It's an excellent, alphabetical guide to the main figures, real and fictitious, of ancient Greece and Rome. If you like classical poetry, I can't recommend it strongly enough. No reference shelf should be without it.
DK Pockets World Atlas, Dorling Kindersley
Ahem. This is my atlas. Actually it's for a younger reader but I love DK's pocket series (I've got a whole load of them). My geography isn't much better than my history so this small (really pocket-sized) book is usually enough for me.
DK Pockets World Atlas, Dorling Kindersley
Ahem. This is my atlas. Actually it's for a younger reader but I love DK's pocket series (I've got a whole load of them). My geography isn't much better than my history so this small (really pocket-sized) book is usually enough for me.
Who's Who in the Bible, Calvocoressi, Penguin
I've hardly used this book since first buying it but I keep telling myself that, in theory at least, I should be using it all the time. It's the sort of book that's useful if you want to get the low down on such and such a character in the bible very quickly you can. Good for bluffers.

Books on Books

The books in this section are concerned not with the content of books but their form, i.e. these are books about making books.
Bookbinding for Book Artists, Smith and Jordan, Keith Smith Books
The full title of this book is "Sewn and Pasted Cloth or Leather Bookbinding for Book Artists Requiring no Special Tools or Equipment" which pretty much sums up what it's all about. Some of the books presented in here are amazing. This is bookbinding as an art form, but the novice will still find much in this that is useful. Highly recommended.
Non-adhesive Binding, two volumes, Smith, Keith Smith Books
I only have volume I. As above, some of the book designs presented here are truly incredible, but there's something here for everyone.
Cover to Cover, LaPlantz, Lark Books
This isn't really in the same league as the two other books but it's not directed at the same readership. Full of photos, diagrams, and clear explanations that make it very suitable for the beginner.

Computer/Web Books

These books are all published by the same publisher - O'Reilly. You can find more information, including sample chapters, at www.oreilly.com. I should probably say at this point that I don't work for O'Reilly or anything like that, I just happen to like their books.
Web Design in a Nutshell, Niederst, O'Reilly
This book never leaves my desk. Literally. My sister was over visiting me in Paris at the end of 1999, and she had this book with her, which is how I came to it (and to O'Reilly in general). If you're completely clueless regarding Web design but are eager to learn, then buy this book. It's both an excellent overview of Web technology for the novice and an indispensable reference guide for the cofirmed webmaster or webmistress. It's well-written, with plenty of examples and practical advice. I love it (okay, I think you've probably got my point by now.)
JavaScript, The Definitive Guide, Flanagan, O'Reilly
I use a lot of Javascript on the Portable Poetry site. Javascript is a really powerful and useful scripting language for the web but it's also a bit of a pain in the backside, mainly because its support by different browsers is so patchy and erratic. In fact, it's a bit of a minefield but this book will help you get through it in one piece.
Learning Perl, Schwartz and Chrstainsen, O'Reilly
I bought this book about a month ago. I want to learn some PERL so I can use less Javascript on my site. Haven't got around to it yet though. Nice cover ;)

My Favourite Books

Patience, child...