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I can’t remember if I’ve previously read The Catcher in the Rye, and therefore I’m not sure if I cheated when I put it here in “Books I Should Have Read Before.” When I opened it for what I thought was the first time, I vaguely remembered some details as if I’d dreamed them: Pencey Prep, the phonies, some ice skating. Maybe everyone was right when they answered my, “I”ve never read it!” claims with, “That’s impossible — they force you to.” “They,” of course, are our teachers, the ones who have made this assignment fiction for as far back as anyone can remember. I wonder if that’s why I can only remember fragments. Did I never finish it? Did I get bored halfway through because Holden, that prissy dip, couldn’t just man up and do his homework like I was every day? Whether I made it through to the end or not, it’s obvious why the book failed me then and why it probably fails so many other kids: it’s not a book for kids.
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Hiya! Remember me? No? Oh, fine. Neither do I, so I guess we’re even.

While it may not look like I’ve been reading much at all by the total lack of posting, you’ll be surprised to know that my lack of posting is due to two things that aren’t that:

1. The “L” key was stuck on my keyboard.

2. I’ve been too busy reading!

I know — not exactly as solid as Jessica’s “I spent the last year creating and raising a human being” excuse, but it’s a start.

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I don’t know why it took me two weeks to post something about the BBAW awards after learning of them from Ms. Stacked Blog, but I’m not known for my intelligence, after all. Regardless, what this means for you, lucky reader, is you can nominate your favorite blogs in a category list so voluminous and specific that there’s no chance of leaving out any of the bright spots on your RSS feed. Check out the gigantic honking button at the top left of this page — clicking there will bring you to a nomination form, sparkling and patiently awaiting your eager dirty fingers.

Of course, though I would love for you to nominate Yours Truly Humble Blog for anything, our content flow is admittedly spotty so I will point you to a few of those I nominated instead. (Actually, what am I talking about? Jessica posts witty, engaging stuff all the time. Nominate Jessica for awards! Go do it now!!) Any of the below blogs are highly recommended for both award nominations and general reading pleasure. And many gracious thanks in advance for any WWRN noms with which you deem to honor us.

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Well that’s finally finished, and what a birthday week it was. It feels slightly indulgent to take up so much blog space with something so silly, but then again, are 400th birthdays silly? They only come around once, after all!

I hope you enjoyed reading some of these reflections on the sonnets but more importantly, I hope you felt inspired to pick up an edition to peruse on your own, at your own pace, in the little nooks and crannies of your day.

In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to collect a select few images of the many thousands of editions that have been printed since 1609. Keep on the lookout for the one that grabs your eye.

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade.”

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The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vow’d chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm’d;
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm’d.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love’s fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseased; but I, my mistress’s thrall,
Came there for cure, and by that I prove,
Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.

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Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss:
Ah, do not, when my heart hath ‘scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquer’d woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come: so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune’s might,
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compared with loss of thee will not seem so.

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Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check’d even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

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Those hours that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel:
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter and confounds him there;
Sap check’d with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’ersnow’d and bareness every where:
Then, were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

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So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned’s wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and born of thee:
In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.

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