We’re taking a step back into history today on the Beat, which is appropriate as it’s also the week of William Shakespeare’s 452nd birthday! Celebrations are ongoing in Britain and elsewhere to honour his life and work. I suppose this gives me an excuse to rewatch my favourite production of a Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing, starring Catherine Tate and David Tennant. What a hardship.
Onwards we go to see the This Is a Voice exhibit at the Wellcome Collection in London, where books by Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe are on display for the first time. Kempe and Julian are the earliest known women who wrote in English, and their books are reflections of their lives during the medieval era. Julian of Norwich may have existed in the 14th century, but we still repeat a line from her work as a Christian mystic today: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” The Book of Margery Kempe is likewise fascinating in its descriptions of visions that Kempe had as she traveled to Jerusalem.
While the exhibit will be staying put in the U.K., we’ll be traveling to Iran, where the world’s largest bookstore will soon be opening in the capital city of Tehran! Right now, the title rests with The Strand in New York City, but with 45 thousand square metres, Tehran’s newest bookstore seems guaranteed to claim the top spot. Four university research departments will make their home among the shelves, as well as large sections dedicated to children’s literature, and all I can think of is the spirit of the Library of Alexandria inhabiting this lovely building.
Speaking of kidlit, the American Library Association’s just announced the nominees for the the 2016 Teens’ Top Ten. 26 titles released in 2015 made the longlist, though it’s noticeable how there are only two POC authors among the nominees, Taran Matharu and Nicola Yoon. It’ll be interesting to see how the shortlist turns out during the fall voting period!