Allie Esiri is the “poetry powerhouse” behind the romantic anthology The Love Book, also available as an app with readings by actors such as Helena Bonham Carter, Damian Lewis and Emma Watson
The Golden Treasury of Poetry
Selected by Louis Untermeyer
I wasn’t a great reader of novels as a child, but I loved this anthology of poems. I may not have understood all of them—it’s only recently that poetry has been written specifically for children—but I enjoyed how they touched on grown-up subjects, such as death or war, in an emotional and powerful way. This book is one of the reasons why I compile poetry anthologies myself.
Frost in May
By Antonia White
(Virago £7.19; ebook £5.99)
This was the first Virago Modern Classic and it led me to all the great women writers that Virago published. A novel based on White’s time in a Catholic boarding school in 1908, the story gripped me like no other. Here was a whole new, sometimes scary, world where the protagonist Nanda discovers literature—just like me. At school my friends all passed this book around. There was a sense we were discovering ourselves as women (it helped that the BBC version starred a young Daniel Day-Lewis).
No One Writes to the Colonel
By Gabriel García Márquez
(Penguin £7.19; ebook £6.49)
As White led me to great women writers, so Márquez led me to the Latin American writers. This novella, about a poor colonel and his wife living under martial law in Colombia, was the first course book I read at university, where I studied French and Spanish. I also loved Carlos Fuentes and Borges—Fuentes came to Cambridge to give some lectures during my time there, which was more exciting to me than if the Rolling Stones had turned up.
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