The English Standard Version is a fairly recent translation of the Bible. It has only been in existence for a little over a decade, but it is in a translation stream dating back to before the King James Version. William Tyndale translated the New Testament in 1526, then came the King James in 1611, then the English Revised in 1885, then the American Standard in 1901, then the Revised Standard in 1952 and 1971. The English Standard Version is in that stream of translations.
According to the ESV itself, “the ESV is an ‘essentially literal’ translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on ‘word-for-word’ correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages.” Of course that is a very precise way of saying that the ESV wants to be as close to the original languages as possible while being readable. I have found the ESV to be second only to the New American Standard Bible in terms of its literal translation, while at the same time remaining at an 8th grade reading level. Ease of reading along with reliability result in the English Standard Version being my Bible translation of choice.
Once again, this is all a matter of your preference and purpose. If you are looking for a Bible to give a new Christian or a Bible to just read devotionally in your quiet times, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the New Living Translation or even the Contemporary English Version. On the other hand, if you are looking for serious study for academic purposes I would recommend the New American Standard Bible, or The NET Bible (New English Translation), or even an Interlinear which places the Greek and English side by side. Almost all modern translations are reliable and trustworthy, true to Scripture.