Grendel was the name of this grim demon / haunting the marches, marauding round the heath / and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters.
"It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning. / For every one of us, living in this world / means waiting for our end. Let whoever can / win glory before death." -- Beowulf
Yes, I am actually recommending this, with two requirements: get Seamus Heaney's translation, and put your miserable high school English class memories out of your head. Beowulf is better than you remember.
And, okay, I admit it: I'm also recommending this because I'm a complete English major geek. After studying this in my Medieval Lit class and choosing it for a term paper, I'm pretty sold on Beowulf. I even have a soft spot for Grendel, so yes, I'm pretty far gone.
But this book really does have it all. It's part gory epic, part monster movie, and part old- (old-)fashioned fantasy.
And don't you think it's pretty cool that this edition has the Anglo-Saxon poetry on the left side? I can't read it either, but I think it looks gorgeous, and I feel smarter just looking at it.
Recommendation: Black coffee. Or mead, if that's the sort of thing you have on hand...