Random (sort-of) Bookish Thoughts -14 February 2016

I am writing this from the cafe of the British Library. I know, how cool am I, hanging out at the British Library on a Sunday afternoon. I have just been to the BL’s current exhibition, ‘West Africa – Word, Symbol, Song’. It rounds off quite a cultural couple of weeks (by BooksAhoy standards, at least) and, as some of my recent outings have been at least tangentially book-related, I thought I’d share:

  • The Friday before last, a group of friends and I saw the comedian Isy Suttie, for a friend’s birthday. This is probably the most tenuous link but, well, she has just written a book, so her current tour is a cross between a stand-up comedy tour and a sort of book promotion junket. The show (and the book, apparently) are all about getting to your late twenties/early thirties and finding everybody growing up around you, whilst you are still behaving like a nineteen-year-old. I can relate.
  • On Monday, I saw the European Union Chamber Orchestra. I didn’t think this would be book-related, but during the first half they played a symphony by Shostakovich – the subject of The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (review published yesterday). Complete coincidence, but a nice one!
  • Yesterday afternoon, I watched the Saturday matinee of As You Like It at the National Theatre. It’s not one of the plays I was particularly familiar with, but the staging was excellent (in particular the transition from civilisation – a fluorescent modern office – to a Forest of Arden built from suspended office furniture. It sounds weird, but it was hugely atmospheric, and the play itself was great – a reminder of how very Shakespearean modernity really is, or maybe vice versa. There is a good article about Rosalie Craig (Rosalind) and Polly Findlay (director) here: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/nov/02/as-you-like-it-shakespeare-national-theatre-london-rosalie-craig-polly-findlay-interview – although, if you follow the link to the appalling review of Polly Findlay’s Merchant of Venice, I actually thought that production was pretty amazing too.
  • I wouldn’t have come to the British Library’s West Africa exhibition if I hadn’t recently read ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m glad I did, though. There was a little too much history and not quite enough literature, which is an observation I’ve made about some British Library exhibitions before, but overall it’s a pretty minor grumble.

Reading-wise, I read The Ramblers (which isn’t great) and am halfway through Mrs Dalloway (which is). I also owe the blog reviews of Americanah, Exposure, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, and I’d like to write one of Scottsboro as well. Behind, as always. I’m really glad to be reading, though. For the last couple of years at this time, I’ve slipped into a late-winter-early-spring reading slump; I’m glad it doesn’t seem to be an annual thing!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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