If you're a book lover, how can you not love a book like this? It was my required reading for a literature class, and I was all too happy to have an excuse to buy it. Satisfyingly fat at 3000 pages, it exudes that delicious book smell when you flip through it, and its matte-sheen cover feels good in your hands and protects its sizable contents quite well.
For me, this was worth getting just for Seamus Heaney's wonderful translation of Beowulf. You can smell the ocean and hear the armor clank as this readable version places you right there in the sixth century. Along with the usual excerpts from such works as the Canterbury Tales, you get complete versions of King Lear, Twelfth Night, Utopia, and Paradise Lost. After looking over the excerpts from Gulliver's Travels, it appears that sections 1,2, and 4 are presented complete, with only some material edited from section 3, so you get almost all of that, too. The footnotes for this, and all the other works, are enormously useful.
I have a few gripes about the book, however these don't merit the subtraction of a star in the rating. First - this book is SO heavy. Obviously there was no way around this in publishing, because to put this many pages on good-quality paper the laws of physics are working against you. But I have literally suffered backache from bringing it around with me in my book bag, and have had to sorrowfully leave it at home at times because of this. Second, I wish it included a clear list of which major works are presented complete, for those of us who want to make sure to read the whole thing. My final beef is with the editorial introduction to The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale from the Canterbury Tales. Reading this rant about "antifeminist writings" was like stepping from the high halls of classic academia into the junior-college classroom of some washed-up 1970s holdover. I HATE agenda in my education, and in my opinion, applying 20th century (yes, 20th) sentiments to 14th century literature is anachronistic and inappropriate. But such is the state of education these days, and here is your evidence in a volume that should have known better. However, that has been the only thing I have come upon that irritated me.
Buying this book is a great way to get a bunch of classics all at once, and there is so much to it that you can enjoy a long read or a short read anytime you want, once you find a way to work around its mass. I look forward to the years of reading pleasure I'll get from my copy.