ARC Readathon Update

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  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband, by Julia Quinn (Undated)
  • Ascension of Larks, by Rachel Linden (June 20, 2017)
  • Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai (August 2017)
  • Are You Sleeping, by Kathleen Barber (August 1, 2017)
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne (August 2017)
  • My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (August 29, 2017)
  • Any Dream Will Do, by Debbie Macomber (August 8, 2017)
  • The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor (August 2017)
    Intoxicating and sad and full of hope and fairies. Really lovely.
  • The Arsonist, by Stephanie Oakes (August 2017)
  • Unraveling Oliver, by Liz Nugent (August 22, 2017)
  • Sip, by Brian Allen Carr (August 2017)
  • Rebellion, by Molly Patterson (August 2017)
  • A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena (August 15, 2017)
  • The Blinds, by Adam Sternbergh (August 2017)
  • The Daughters of Ireland, by Santa Montefiore (August 2017)
  • Dinner at the Center of the Earth, by Nathan Englander (September 2017) A strange and thought-provoking story of Israeli and Palestinian espionage and extralegal activity, though occasionally a bit difficult to keep track of who is who.
  • Right Where You Left Me, by Calla Devlin (September 2017) Didn’t realize this was YA when I picked it up, but enjoyed the quick read anyway. Extraordinary circumstances but realistic teens – about family, friends, and finding your way as high school ends.
  • Solar Bones, by Mike McCormack (September 2017)
    It comes well-recommended, but the author made some stylistic choices I found very distracting. Did not get past the first few pages.
  • The Blind, by A.F. Brady (September 26, 2017)
    Utterly repellent narrator. Neither chilling nor suspenseful (as billed) but definitely psychological – study in self-destructive behavior that’s all Magically Cured when she decides to stop drinking (which is apparently easy to do for a raging alcoholic?).
  • The Space Between Words, by Michèle Phoenix (September 5, 2017) Thoughtful look at the struggle to keep going in the aftermath of a trauma. Main character is an American woman wounded in the mass shooting at the Bataclan, trying to deal with what happened to her in both body and mind, and she gets caught up in historical research after finding handwritten pages from 1695 hidden inside an antique sewing box.
  • Keep Her Safe, by Sophie Hannah (September 2017) More complex and compelling than I expected it to be. Strange and often uncomfortable, but keeps you turning pages.
  • The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld (September 2017) Beautiful and eerie – somehow the pages radiate the particular silence of snowfall.
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017) I like the creation of a main character coping with a chronic condition like epilepsy, but the story as a whole was kind of pat and too easy. After 10 years of self-imposed isolation from her age group, this teenager’s able to manage attending a large public high school with relatively little turbulence? Possible, but seems unlikely.
  • The Way to London, by Alix Rickloff (September 2017) Second book by this author I’ve read in the past few years, and I like her style. Lucy is an unusual lead for a book set in 1940s England, especially for an upper-class woman, but she’s fun. I’m reminded very slightly of Good Night, Mr. Tom.
  • Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years, by David Litt (September 2017) Why yes, he DOES explain how he ended up singing the Golden Girls theme song in the Oval Office. Processy and interesting.
  • Something Like Happy, by Eva Woods (September 5, 2017)
  • The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (September 5, 2017)
  • A Casualty of War (Bess Crawford Mystery #9), by Charles Todd (September 2017)
  • Fever, by Deon Meyer (September 2017)
  • The It Girls, by Karen Harper (October 2017)
  • House of Shadows, by Nicola Cornick (October 17, 2017)
  • The Rift Frequency (Rift Uprising Trilogy #2), by Amy S. Foster (October 2017)
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine (October 2017)
  • Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter (November 2017)
  • The Gift, by Shelley Shepard Gray (November 2017)
  • The Library at the Edge of the World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (November 2017)
  • The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty (November 2017)
  • The Black Painting, by Neil Olson (January 9, 2018)
  • Everything Here is Beautiful, by Mira T. Lee (January  16, 2018)
  • The Last Suppers, by Mandy Mikulencak (January 2018)
  • All Things Bright and Strange, by James Markert (January 30, 2018)
  • Tarnished City (Dark Gifts Trilogy #2), by Vic James (February 6, 2018)
  • Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson (February 20, 2018)
  • The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara (February 2018)
  • Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (March 2018)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 132 (ALA Midwinter 2018, Feb. 9-13)

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Yom Kippur

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Avinu Malkeinu: A Prayer of Protest

Avinu Malkeinu

Hear our voice:

Some of us have cancer.

Some have lost strength of body; some have lost memory and speech.

Some of us are in pain.

Some can’t find work.

Some of us bear the marks of human cruelty — inside, where the scars don’t show.

Some live with depression; some battle addiction; many feel alone.

Some have known shattered marriages, trust betrayed, hopes destroyed.

Some of us have lost the ones we love, far too soon.

And some of us have lost a child.

All of us have seen suffering in our midst.

All of us know the ravages of war — for which there are no words.

 

Avinu Malkeinu, why?

Avinu Malkeinu, are you there? Do you care?

Avinu Malkeinu, Hear our pain.

Hear our anger. Hear our grief.

Avinu Malkeinu, here is our prayer:

Give us the strength to go on.

Give us reasons to get up each day; give us purpose and persistence.

Help us to fend off fear and to hold onto hope.

Help us to be kind.

Don’t make us bow or grovel for your favor. Give us dignity and give us courage.

 

Avinu Malkeinu

Show us the way to a year of goodness.

Renew our belief that the world can be better.

Restore our faith in life. Restore our faith in you.

 

Mishkan Hanefesh, author unknown.

Rosh Hashanah / Yom Hazikaron

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Let us ask ourselves hard questions

For this is the time for truth.

How much time did we waste

In the year that is now gone?

Did we fill our days with life

Or were they dull and empty?

Was there love inside our home

Or was the affectionate word left unsaid?

Was there a real companionship with our children

Or was there a living together and a growing apart?

Were we a help to our mates

Or did we take them for granted?

How was it with our friends:

Were we there when they needed us or not?

The kind deed: did we perform it or postpone it?

The unnecessary gibe: did we say it or hold it back?

Did we live by false values?

Did we deceive others?

Did we deceive ourselves?

Were we sensitive to the rights and feelings

Of those who worked for us?

Did we acquire only possessions

Or did we acquire new insights as well?

Did we fear what the crowd would say

And keep quiet when we should have spoken out?

Did we mind only our own business

Or did we feel the heartbreak of others?

Did we live right,

And if not,

Then have we learned, and will we change?

— An interpretation of Unetaneh Tokef by Jack Riemer

ARC Readathon Update

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  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband, by Julia Quinn (Undated)
  • Dark Saturday, by Nicci French (Undated)
    Dark indeed. Sixth in a series, and refers heavily back to previous stories.
  • Ascension of Larks, by Rachel Linden (June 20, 2017)
  • Séance Infernale, by Jonathan Skariton (August 2017) Are you a ghost story or a Criminal Minds-style procedural? MAKE UP YOUR MIND.
  • Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai (August 2017)
  • Are You Sleeping, by Kathleen Barber (August 1, 2017)
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne (August 2017)
  • My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (August 29, 2017)
  • Any Dream Will Do, by Debbie Macomber (August 8, 2017)
  • The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor (August 2017)
  • The Arsonist, by Stephanie Oakes (August 2017)
  • The Half-Drowned King, by Linnea Hartsuyker (August 2017) OMG SO GOOD. Part one of a trilogy based on the sagas of Norwegian king Harald Fairhair. Eager for part 2!
  • The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes, by David Handler (August 2017) Comfortable, gossipy mystery. One of a series, apparently. A smattering of chuckle-worthy moments.
  • Pieces of Happiness, by Anne Ostby (August 2017) Lovely and wistful story about old friends reconnecting after life has taken them in different directions. Have chocolate nearby while reading.
  • Unraveling Oliver, by Liz Nugent (August 22, 2017)
  • Sip, by Brian Allen Carr (August 2017)
  • Rebellion, by Molly Patterson (August 2017)
  • A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena (August 15, 2017)
  • The Blinds, by Adam Sternbergh (August 2017)
  • The Daughters of Ireland, by Santa Montefiore (August 2017)
  • Dinner at the Center of the Earth, by Nathan Englander (September 2017)
  • Right Where You Left Me, by Calla Devlin (September 2017)
  • Solar Bones, by Mike McCormack (September 2017)
  • The Blind, by A.F. Brady (September 26, 2017)
  • The Space Between Words, by Michèle Phoenix (September 5, 2017)
  • Keep Her Safe, by Sophie Hannah (September 2017)
  • The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld (September 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)
  • The Way to London, by Alix Rickloff (September 2017)
  • Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years, by David Litt (September 2017)
  • Something Like Happy, by Eva Woods (September 5, 2017)
  • The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (September 5, 2017)
  • A Casualty of War (Bess Crawford Mystery #9), by Charles Todd (September 2017)
  • Fever, by Deon Meyer (September 2017)
  • The It Girls, by Karen Harper (October 2017)
  • House of Shadows, by Nicola Cornick (October 17, 2017)
  • The Rift Frequency (Rift Uprising Trilogy #2), by Amy S. Foster (October 2017)
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine (October 2017)
  • Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter (November 2017)
  • The Gift, by Shelley Shepard Gray (November 2017)
  • The Library at the Edge of the World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (November 2017)
  • The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty (November 2017)
  • The Black Painting, by Neil Olson (January 9, 2018)
  • Everything Here is Beautiful, by Mira T. Lee (January  16, 2018)
  • The Last Suppers, by Mandy Mikulencak (January 2018)
  • All Things Bright and Strange, by James Markert (January 30, 2018)
  • Tarnished City (Dark Gifts Trilogy #2), by Vic James (February 6, 2018)
  • Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson (February 20, 2018)
  • The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara (February 2018)
  • Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (March 2018)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 192 (ALA Midwinter 2018, Feb. 9-13)

Old Memories, New Project

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When I was fifteen, a friend came out to me as a lesbian. Being able to talk to me and, I think, a few of our other friends gave her a sort of pressure release valve. She was afraid to tell her parents, you see. At first I was rather pleased to be the recipient of such important confidences, but over the months of that year, the stories started to unsettle me. My friend told me she was engaged in what sounded to me like a completely dysfunctional online relationship (how much was true or not is increasingly unclear with the passage of time, but I have no real reason to suspect falsehood). She had a password-protected blog that I had access to, and she described this relationship and a growing habit of drinking and smoking. Then one day she showed up to school with cuts all over her hands. When asked what had happened, she simply said she’d been trying to take a razor apart, and then changed the subject.

That’s when I panicked. I may have been only fifteen, and an innocent fifteen at that, but I could only think of one reason to take a razor apart. I’d been growing more and more uneasy about the things she’d been telling me for some time, but the razor incident sent me into a complete terrified tailspin.

I went to a teacher I trusted, as well as contacting someone I knew at a community-wide program providing counseling services at the local schools. On their recommendation, I went to one of the school counselors and ended up spilling everything I knew.

I lost the friendship, and if I were to be faced with a similar situation now I might handle it differently, but I still believe I did the right thing overall.

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This isn’t a story I tell in detail much, and there are a lot of details I’ve omitted here as well. I bring it up now because after a conversation with a different friend recently, I have decided that a portion of the proceeds from all of my Etsy sales between now and the end of 2017 will go to the Trevor Project. I believe in the mission of this project. They provide services to LGBTQ+ teens in crisis, including chat sessions, phone sessions, and suicide hotlines. If my high school friend had had a place like that to turn when things were getting so intense and strange all those years ago, maybe she wouldn’t have been drinking, or getting so thin, or trying to take a razor apart. If she’d had a place like that to turn, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up taking action that lost her trust in the short term and my own in the long term. If I’d had a place like the Trevor Project to turn for guidance in how best to offer my friend help and support, I might have done things differently. I grieve for both of those girls, caught up in an emotional maelstrom and not sure where to turn for some kind of anchor.

So I’m making crafts, beaded ornaments and other things, many of which are inspired by the pride flags of different queer and trans identities. And it’s a fascinating challenge. Like the words I’m writing, every color choice and every organization of color has layers of meaning. It’s not just about indulging my own aesthetic whimsy anymore. I’m in the middle of making what I’m calling a “double rainbow” set of 1-inch ornaments – the ornaments themselves are a rainbow, and each is decorated with rainbow stripes of shining seed beads. I have enough ornaments in all the required colors to make two of these sets, and I’m going to vary the pattern slightly between them. The stripes must be joined together, and I usually use a contrasting bead for that. In my exploration of different pride flags, I’ve noticed variations intended to point out the presence of people of color. For example, the trans flag comes in two iterations, from what I’ve found. One has a white stripe in the middle, and one has a black stripe. One of the double rainbow sets will reflect this line of thought.

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I admit that as a straight, white, cisgender woman, speaking about all of this is potentially problematic, since I don’t know much of anything about the experience of coming out or realizing you are in some way or another outside the “mainstream” in sexual and gender identities. Every word feels loaded with layers of meaning that I don’t even realize I’m not seeing.

I struggle with the shifting sands of the vocabulary preferred by the queer and trans populations, and I apologize profusely if I’ve gotten something wrong in this post. I recognize that it’s not your job to educate me on vocabulary or concepts, but I hope you will help me out if I really screw up. After all, who better to ask than the people living these experiences? I want to get it right and you know it better than I do. I know there are many elements I’ll never fully understand at anything deeper than the intellectual level, because I’m not living them. The best I can hope for is secondhand knowledge.

So… yeah. If you like my ornaments and you want to support a worthy cause, go to my store and buy. If you don’t want ornaments, I encourage you to support the Trevor Project outright.  

ARCS: New Batch!

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015) I remember enjoying the Fresh Air interview with Philip Glass about this book, but I just couldn’t get into the book itself.
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017) Took a turn at the end that I wasn’t expecting – threads came together nicely.
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017) I am so in love with this series I can’t even begin to tell you. IT IS AWESOME EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT THAT IS ALL.
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017) A married couple with a possibly spectrum-y kid decides to try an open marriage for six months, and unsurprisingly, Stuff happens.
  • The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband, by Julia Quinn (Undated)
  • Dark Saturday, by Nicci French (Undated)
  • I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool, by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella (Undated). 303 pages of generic tripe. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. 
  • The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, by Paula Poundstone (May 2017) Definitely brought me some happiness.
  • News of the World, by Paulette Jiles (Undated) Read in entirety during my flight back from the conference. A Western that is both simple and complex simultaneously. Made me well up at the end.
  • Ascension of Larks, by Rachel Linden (June 20, 2017)
  • Unraveling (Unblemished, Book 2), by Sara Ella (July 11, 2017) First one was okay, second one is pretty clunky.
  • The Writing Desk, by Rachel Hauck (July 11, 2017) Kind of heavy-handed with the Christian elements of the story, but a good story nonetheless.
  • Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler, by Bruce Henderson (July 2017) Completely fascinating story of specially-trained multilingual interrogators in WWII. A local author, too!
  • The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal (July 2017) Darker than I usually like, but featuring a compelling main character. Well done.
  • Séance Infernale, by Jonathan Skariton (August 2017)
  • Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai (August 2017)
  • Are You Sleeping, by Kathleen Barber (August 1, 2017)
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne (August 2017)
  • My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (August 29, 2017)
  • Any Dream Will Do, by Debbie Macomber (August 8, 2017)
  • The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor (August 2017)
  • The Arsonist, by Stephanie Oakes (August 2017)
  • The Half-Drowned King, by Linnea Hartsuyker (August 2017)
  • The People at Number 9, by Felicity Everett (August 8, 2017) Life is too short to read books that don’t engage you.
  • The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes, by David Handler (August 2017)
  • Pieces of Happiness, by Anne Ostby (August 2017)
  • The Quiet Child, by John Burley (August 2017) Dark. Plays on the paranoia that can develop from the human brain’s tendency to find patterns. 
  • Unraveling Oliver, by Liz Nugent (August 22, 2017)
  • Sip, by Brian Allen Carr (August 2017)
  • Rebellion, by Molly Patterson (August 2017)
  • A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena (August 15, 2017)
  • The Blinds, by Adam Sternbergh (August 2017)
  • The Daughters of Ireland, by Santa Montefiore (August 2017)
  • Dinner at the Center of the Earth, by Nathan Englander (September 2017)
  • Right Where You Left Me, by Calla Devlin (September 2017)
  • Solar Bones, by Mike McCormack (September 2017)
  • The Blind, by A.F. Brady (September 26, 2017)
  • The Space Between Words, by Michèle Phoenix (September 5, 2017)
  • Keep Her Safe, by Sophie Hannah (September 2017)
  • The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld (September 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)
  • The Way to London, by Alix Rickloff (September 2017)
  • Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years, by David Litt (September 2017)
  • Something Like Happy, by Eva Woods (September 5, 2017)
  • The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (September 5, 2017)
  • A Casualty of War (Bess Crawford Mystery #9), by Charles Todd (September 2017)
  • Fever, by Deon Meyer (September 2017)
  • The It Girls, by Karen Harper (October 2017)
  • House of Shadows, by Nicola Cornick (October 17, 2017)
  • The Rift Frequency (Rift Uprising Trilogy #2), by Amy S. Foster (October 2017)
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine (October 2017)
  • Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter (November 2017)
  • The Gift, by Shelley Shepard Gray (November 2017)
  • The Library at the Edge of the World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (November 2017)
  • The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty (November 2017)
  • The Black Painting, by Neil Olson (January 9, 2018)
  • Everything Here is Beautiful, by Mira T. Lee (January  16, 2018)
  • The Last Suppers, by Mandy Mikulencak (January 2018)
  • All Things Bright and Strange, by James Markert (January 30, 2018)
  • Tarnished City (Dark Gifts Trilogy #2), by Vic James (February 6, 2018)
  • Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson (February 20, 2018)
  • The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara (February 2018)
  • Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (March 2018)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 226 (ALA Midwinter 2018, Feb. 9-13)

ARC Readathon Pre-Conference Update

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (released Feb. 2017) Some elements slightly reminiscent of the film WOMAN IN GOLD, but nowhere near as dramatic. Two parallel stories, both to some degree revolving around absent parents and an obsession with a lost painting. Would recommend.
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Released Feb. 21, 2017) Funny, poignant, wise, and naive. Like teenagers are themselves.
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (released Feb. 7, 2017) Somehow simultaneously fantastical and mercilessly realistic. A book you experience rather than merely read.
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Released March 2017) Pretty dark. Not for everyone, but I found it surprisingly gripping.
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017) Tremendously enjoyable. Three generations of family secrets coming to light, generously sprinkled with Big Nerd Doings. Sign me up!
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017) An oddly slippery story, fascinating and compelling and full of unreliable witnesses. Totally worth it.
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017) An interesting premise, but his writing style seriously bugged me. Did not finish.
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017) Enjoyed the first, and enjoyed the second in this series. Looking forward to more. If you like fantasy that’s full of strong, complex women, this is for you.
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 0!

Bibliomania

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In the 19th century, one Dr. Ferriar wrote a poem for his friend Richard Heber, a very distinguished book collector of his day, and in doing so, entered the words “bibliomania” and “bibliophile” into the popular lexicon. He defines the idea using following passage:

What wild desires, what restless torments seize

The hapless man who feels the book-disease.

If niggard Fortune cramp his generous mind,

And Prudence quench the spark by Heaven assign’d!

With wistful glance his aching eyes behold

The Princeps-copy, clad in blue and gold,

Where the tall Book-case, with partition thin

Displays, yet guards, the tempting charms within.

Not thus the few, by happier fortune grac’d

And blest, like you, with talents, wealth, and taste,

Who gather nobly, with judicious hand,

The Muse’s treasures from each letter’d strand.

For you the Monk illum’d his pictur’d page,

For you the press defies the Spoils of age,

Faustus for you infernal tortures bore,

Fore you Erasmus starv’d on Adria’s shores.

The folio-Aldus loads your happy shelves,

And dapper Elzevirs, like fairy elves,

Show their light forms amidst the well-gilt Twelves:

In slender type the Giolitos shine,

And bold Bodoni stamps his Roman line.

For you the Louvre opes its regal doors,

And either Didot lends his brilliant stores:

With fautless types, and costly scriptures bright,

Ibarra’s Quixote charms your ravish’d sight.