Monday, 26 February 2018

Novel benches for World Book Day

I've been out in Sherwood Forest looking for novel benches for World Book Day.

I found some well-known bench novels which I can't wait to tuck into.

Of course there are literally stacks of book benches around.

But I don't want to get chained down in a lot of chat. 

Sitting on History by Bill Woodrow, my photo

It would be no fiction to say that my previous attempts at stories for World Book Day have been a disaster. When I presented stacks of book benches, my friends and neighbours started a forum that was not really about books. 

Even my cats got in on it.

You know how cats can be disruptive when you're trying to read.

Malcolm McCrow

When I set out to save our public library benches everyone had their own ideas about what they want.

World Book Day is a great thing because so many of us love to read.

But there are just too many opinions about. So this time we're just going to have a quiet read on benches all over the world. We'll start with France, where une femme in a rather odd hat lisant sur un banc

By Henri Bouchet-Doumenq - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.,

My husband, His Excellency: This makes a change. Even when they're reading, most of the people on French benches seem to be kissing.

I'm ignoring your comments because this is a quiet read and I don't want any interruptions. I just want people. On benches. Reading.

By Fondazione Cariplo, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tamsin, my cute little neighbour: Ohhhhh, I love pink! These dresses are soooo pretty. 

In all ages of art it is not unusual to see paintings of people reading on benches.

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly: It looks like this chap has had some bad news. He'd better drown his sorrows in that pitcher of mead.

It's a nice spring day today and Lord Brassica's butler Unwin is out on a bench reading the newspaper which he ironed earlier this morning.

Benches and readers go together, well, like sisters sharing a book.

My best imaginary friend Miggy: I think this is my sister Nora and me on a bench in my mum's garden.

I doubt it. This painting is from the 19th century. 

Miggy: My mum used to read to us though, mostly the Little Bench on the Prairie stories.

His Excellency: You must have been a late starter. I was reading a translation of Homer when I was four. 

Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need. 

Tamsin: I don't read very well but I like to read to my dog in the garden. 

By Hadonos Czech Republic- Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tamsin: Also my cat. But I don't think he likes it.

Mungo, my imaginary husband: How do you know?

Back to the subject please. People. Reading.

Tamsin: Do children count as people?

Yes. And it's very exciting when children discover the magic of letters.

Root, son of Lord Brassica: I got all the way to the letter A and I never discovered any magic.

You probably just needed to give it a wee bit longer, Root.

Root: A good teacher could help me I think. I'll go down to the park and see if I can find a woman reading.  

my photo, Nesselwang, Germany

Root: Not my type though. Looks like a bit of a libraryboots. 

She's the type who would tell you off for standing on benches.

my photo, Enkhuizen, Netherlands

Miggy: Hey, Root, you're in luck!

What part of QUIET don't you people understand?

Miggy: Calm down, Seashell. You're shouting. It doesn't do to be shouting around books.

Ok. We'll start again. In a nice quiet, respectful way.

A little birdie tells me we should start with art.

His Excellency: Pairs of young women reading are popular subjects for artists. They're easy on the eye and they can be posed in very attractive ways which suggests an intimacy with the viewer and with each other.

Tamsin: I like the pink dress best. Where's the button to Fave it?

Lord Brassica: Oh, I say! These are jolly nice looking gels. Their tops are nicely revealing. 

His Excellency: Will you be revealing anything about World Book Day, Seashell, or is this just one of those listy things?

It's people reading. I'll say no more. 

Miggy: I grew up in a very literary household. My teddy subscribed to The Financial Times. 

source unknown

Tamsin: lol. This is succccchhhhh an adorable teddy! 

I said PEOPLE reading. 

Otherwise we get into that thing with cute animal pictures.

Tamsin: Wow! This is news to me. I didn't know frogs could read.

His Excellency: Fake news, Tamsin. Fake news. 

Tamsin: I know cats can read though. I've seen my cat reading.

Mungo: What about reading a computer screen? 

Miggy: I find myself strangely attracted to men working on computers.

my photo

Mungo: Is there any man you don't find yourself attracted to, Migs?

Miggy: Well, I don't much care for those men Lady Brassica gets from Young Male Readers dot com

Miggy: And I don't always like their books either. 

His Excellency: Personally, I tend to fancy an intelligent-looking woman with a thoughtful expression.

Miggy: This sort of thing?

His Excellency: Heavens no. Not my cup of tea at all.

Miggy: What about this one?

Tamsin: I've seen her on Instagram. 

His Excellency: Deep in thought. A philosopher I think, rather like myself. An intelligent woman of substance and beauty. Can I contact her through Facebook? 

Absolutely not. She pre-dates social media.

Mungo: I'm losing the will to live here. I thought we were talking about children reading? 

You're right, Mungo. There are some lovely sculptures of children reading on benches. Here's a child reading in the library in Shelburne, Ontario.

Lord Brassica: Why is this child barefoot in a library? 

Well, there are different kinds of libraries these days. Some of them are very informal. 

Just boxes of books really.  

Lord Brassica: People should be properly shod if they're in a public place.

Lord Brassica: This is an outrage. This young man is old enough to keep his shoes on and sit up properly. 

The important thing is that young people enjoy reading.

This child in St. Helier is captivated by her book.

Tamsin: I don't believe in holding children captive. 

We're moving on now because I want to show people reading on benches. 

What better place to read than on a bench along the river?

My husband Mungo:  I don't see a river.

You don't need to. The title of the picture is Riverside, so we know it's a river. And something like a park. 

Miggy: Lots of people like to read on benches in parks.

Yes, this couple come to the park every day with their books and newspapers.

Neozoon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 

Mungo: That's so they don't have to speak to each other. 

Not true. Sharing something you've read is a lovely thing.

His Excellency: This woman seems unduly excited. I don't think it's something she's read.

Miggy: A lot of women are attracted to men reading newspapers, especially when they're smartly dressed.

Mungo: What? The newspapers?

His Excellency: This chap is very businesslike. He looks like he wouldn't care to be interrupted by women throwing themselves at him.  

Reading is, after all, a solitary pursuit.

By Johann Jaritz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

His Excellency: And men take their papers very seriously.

Mungo: Never come between a man and his Daily News.

His Excellency: Or his Jakarta Bisnis.

His Excellency: But if that woman in green that we saw earlier cares to have a conversation with me I will happily stop my reading. 

Miggy: So you could be tempted?

His Excellency: Absolutely. In the right circumstances. By the woman in green. 

Some men can't be persuaded away from their books.

Or their newspapers. 

Lord Brassica: By jove, I'd be tempted by any of these three jolly lasses.

Root: I know these three. Saw them down at the Dustpan and ipod on Friday night. 

Tamsin: They're all called Grace. They're on Snapchat.

Could we stop the chat, please, and just look at the quiet reading.

Miggy: I hate it when I'm reading and someone next to me tries to read over my shoulder. I feel like saying get your own thing to read.

It's really nice to share something you've read though. A poem for instance. Imagine it's a summer's evening and you're with your best friend by the lake . .

Lord Brassica: Tally ho! These women can swim in my lake anytime. 

I think you're missing the point here, Lord B. This is about BOOKS. And READING.

Lord Brassica: Fair enough. I read a book once. Well, I read part of it all the way through. It was yellow I think. 

Mungo: I don't get this thing about sharing books. I tried to run a reading group and I was the only one interested. 

His Excellency: Maybe there was something about Principles of Quantum Physics that wasn't a catchy enough title.

I'm getting fed up here. This was supposed to be a quiet read for World Book Day. Instead, it's turning into another one of those forums where people feel they have a right to an opinion.

Miggy: Speaking of which, I'm just checking Twitter and there's some breaking news.

Mungo: Is it fake news or real news? 

Miggy: Doesn't matter. It's still news. 

His Excellency: Hold on. I'll get my tablet out.

Tamsin: OMG! Root has found himself a teacher. He's going to learn to read!

Lord Brassica: Blimey, I could do with a few lessons myself.

His Excellency: And me. I don't think I'm quite up to scratch with my Latin. 

Right. That's it. I give up. 

This isn't even about books. The only thing I've achieved here is that we have seen people reading on benches in quite a few countries - France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Canada, Belgium, England, Netherlands, Malawi and the USA. 

Though my rebellious friends and family stopped me, I've tried everything to have a nice quiet read for World Book Day. Now I'm going to retire to a bench and enjoy the rest of the day. 


The man with a heart head is Working Man, located at The Cube, a 25-storey building in the city centre of Birmingham UK. The Cube houses a mix of offices, shops, restaurants and apartments and inside the building’s central courtyard atrium is an exclusive portfolio of art pieces by contemporary artist, Temper, whose work is dedicated to and influenced by ‘The Lovely People’ of the city he loves. Each of Temper’s pieces immortalises a real person who has inspired others and demonstrates a source of pride for the city. Working Man was photographed by Barry O'Neil in 2012.

I hope this story has convinced you that here on Paradise Island we are literate and extremely learned folk. We pay careful attention to our grammar and punctuation benches. We always celebrate World Book Day with stacks of book benches and last year we tried to save our library benches. For more about the book-reading citizens of Fribble and Drizzly, see who's who in Fribble-under-Par.  And see how we celebrate National Poetry Day benches at

The Robin Hood doubled-closed book bench is from the Nansen Group Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. They are a team of professional designers who specialise in high quality contemporary library furniture for public libraries, college, universities and the heathcare industry. They have a range of book benches, including Treasure Island, the Wizard of Oz, and my favourite childhood book, Charlotte's Web. Their website is at

The women sitting on stacks on books in the street were photographed at the Spui book market in Amsterdam in 2014. I'd be surprised if any of these books were about benches. Hans Stellingwerf photographs Straatmoments in the streets for his website at TrekEarth and his Flickr photostream at HS Fotografie. Hans would like to make it clear that if he is following someone, it's for streetphotography only.

Sitting on History is by Bill Woodrow, 1995 at  I photographed this bench at Cass Sculpture Park in 2009. 

The A Cat is a Cat book bench is from Bob Dodson, the Art Shaman, who creates digital art, woodwork, bowl turning, ceramics and all kinds of objects from mixed media. He has a Cat Gallery and reports that his cats have recently learned to type, which could create havoc on his website at A Cat is a Cat appeared in the World Book Day post back in April 2013.  

The cat running along the back of the bench outside the Broughty Ferry Library was photographed by Malcolm McCrow as part of his photographic collection of Broughty Ferry in Scotland. Broughty looks like a brilliant place. Broughty Ferry and other British places can be seen at

The man with a heart head is Working Man, located at The Cube, a 25-storey building in the city centre of Birmingham UK. The Cube houses a mix of offices, shops, restaurants and apartments and inside the building’s central courtyard atrium is an exclusive portfolio of art pieces by contemporary artist, Temper, whose work is dedicated to and influenced by ‘The Lovely People’ of the city he loves. Each of Temper’s pieces immortalises a real person who has inspired others and demonstrates a source of pride for the city. Working Man was photographed by Barry O'Neil in 2012.

The French woman reading on a bench is a painting called Femme lisant sur un banc  by Henri Bouchet-Doumenq, who painted lots of women on benches and elsewhere. This is the own work of Henri Bouchet-Doumenq, available on CC BY-SA 3.0. I saw it at  

I have two husbands. One is Mungo, my imaginary husband, who features in lots of Benchsite stories. Mungo and I were married at an imaginary wedding in Las Vegas many years ago. My other husband is His Excellency, who has a reputation for destruction, even when he means well. He's a philosopher and, to say the least, not a very practical person. He blames this on his schooling, which focused mostly on woodworkMungo, on the other hand, keeps a good workbench. Read about both of them at  And should you be further interested, you can read about the chaos in our household on Valentine's Day

Quiet Interruption is a lovely shot of a young couple on a bench in 2009. They aren't in France though, they're in Hamilton. The photographer says: I have very strong ideas and am very easy-going. Je suis seventeen and winter born et like slipping French into my sentences and revisiting my childhood through Disney movies

The two girls in pink, entitled Le Confidenze, is a painting by Fabbi Fabio, created 1900  This file by Artgate Fondazione Cariplo was uploaded as part of the Share Your Knowledge project developed within WikiAfrica.  By Fondazione Cariplo, CC BY-SA 3.0  If you like pink, we've got Fifty Shades of Pink benches and some grey ones too at

Tamsin is a sweet local girl who works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. She has a French fiance, Garcon Orange, and a baby named Isambard Kevin, whose paternal origins are unknown. And she has a rather odd perspective on life, as shown in the post she helped me with about big and small benches. If you think size doesn't matter, you ought to see it. 

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on Paradise Island. He loves his horse Tonks, his dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches. He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from his dog Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic benches

Lady Jessica Brassica is married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly She's a fashionista and former model with Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland. Now she has her own fashion house at Ballyfrumpy in County Offhand in Ireland. She loves shopping at her replica mall and having poetry read to her by Young Male Readers dot com. 

The painting of dark figures in a room is Flemish, as you might imagine, and it is entitled Interior With Figures. It was painted by Niers The Younger, a Flemish painter, who lived from 1610-1690. It comes from the illustrated catalogue of the private collection of valuable paintings by the old 
masters and early English artists formed by the late Leon Hirsch of New York Year in 1914.  I saw it at and at

The two pretty girls in white are Zwei singende junge Mädchen auf einer Parkbank - two girls in the park - painted in 1873 by German artist Minna Heeren (1823-1898) The photograph is in the public domain.   White is such a romantic colour. Why not have a look at our romantic white benches at

The sculpture of a woman on a bench reading to a child is at the entrance to the Taylor Public Library in Taylor, Texas. The statue was donated by the Taylor Women's Study Club and was photographed for the library's Flickr site in 2007. 

The white statue of the girl and the dog is by Hadonos, who lives in Most in the Czech Republic. I found it on Wikimedia at   
 and it is Hadonos's own work, available under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 3.0,  Aug 2012.  Here on Benchsite we love dogs and there are some doggone good canine benches at 

Prefer cats? There are some purr-fect benches for World Cats Day. And our feline benches with cats playing the piano are the cat's meow.
Bryan Ledgard’s token cat picture is Wonky Morris, a seven year old Oriental Blue, the last of a litter and born with nerve damage to one side of his head. His right ear permanently flops and his right eye doesn't close – he uses his second eyelid instead. Bryan has to wake him up to see if he's asleep. But he's a typically eccentric Dickensian character who likes to shout a lot about nothing in particular. His hobbies are sleeping, having his back rubbed and playing the piano. Sounds like my husband His Excellency.  

Root is the son of Lord and Lady Brassica of Drizzly. Whilst Lady B is gorgeous and Lord B is wealthy and personable, Root has none of these qualities. In fact, he has no qualities whatsoever, he's simply a toff-about-town.

The children's Level of Discovery benches come in all sorts of colours and themes. The Alphabet Soup bench is one of my favourites. It is available from   If you fancy some nice alphabet benches, we've got an A to Z of Dutch benches and a whole alphabet of dance benches too.

In 2007 Alidar Moxie was reading on a bench outside her Second Life store. While Alidar looks very Right Now, moxie is an Old Hollywood word for female characters full of spirit, character, chutzpah. Think Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyk and Katherine Hepburn.

Michael Dexter Design/DexMex is proud to be rated as one of Etsy's top art sellers, specializing in unique wedding and engagement gifts, and a wide variety of vintage-inspired designs and framed art prints. Michael's eclectic style is a fusion of vintage art and modern design and he loves mixing traditional and nostalgic images with a new contemporary edge. One of his works is the brilliant and scary Shhhing librarian.

In an exquisite oil painting called Beim Gebet by the German artist Ernst Oppler (1867-1929) a woman seems to be reading to an older woman from a prayer book. The painting was created in 1900 and is in the private collection of Ketterer Kunst at
obnr=113002123&anummer=412  It is in the public domain and available at 

Kordula Röckenhaus is a graphic designer and artist in Bielefeld, Germany. At her shop, RöckenhausArt, she sells original artworks, giclee prints, greeting cards and postcards, such as the delightful one of the man reading a newspaper with a little red bird by his side.

The two girls in pink and gold dresses sharing a book are subjects of a 19th century oil painting entitled Poesie Schwelgen. Its author is anonymous and it was put on Wikimedia by Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus. The painting is in the public domain. 

The teddy is reading a newspaper which is definitely not The New York Times. It looks like it might be Italian. I regret that I am unable to find the source of this image. I've had it around for a very long time.

The reading frog was on a bench in Atlanta in 2009. The photographer is very green. No, really, that's his name. He likes to take photos of Anime figures that his wife collects. 

Tom Campbell was a journalist on The Tribune newspaper in Lewiston, Idaho. His statue is now on a bench outside the Tribune offices in the pretty old town square of the town. I photographed it when I was there in 2016. 

Lady Brassica has long held a subscription to Young Male Each evening a young man from the agency takes the ferry and arrives at Paradise Island where Lady B's chauffeur picks him up and delivers him to Drizzly Manor. Lady B then spends several hours being read to, though the choice of books are sometimes dubious. 

Miggy was on a bench reading a book called Eat Yourself Slim. I'll say no more. 

The dreamy woman in green who has captured His Excellency's imagination is Elena Vecchi, painted in oil in 1896 by Italian painter Vittorio Matteo Corcos (1859-1933). She's in the Galeria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome and I wouldn't be surprised if he goes there soon.

The bronze boy reading is a Sit-by-Me statue inside the Shelburne Carnegie Public Library in Shelburne, Ontario in Canada. The artist is Mary Squirell and the work commemorates  Patrick Heaslip (1987-2005)

The guy reading face down is Benny, the prone reader. He was photographed in 2007 at the Hancock County Library in St Louis. The photographer is Social_Stratification, who has a website in the Deep South called Social Stratification in the Deep South  

The very cheerful girl in dungarees is an old image from clipart.

The magic of letters was photographed in Livingstonia in Malawi around 1895. It is part of the collection of the International Mission Photography Archive (1860-1960) and it is in the public domain in Europe and the USA because it was registered with the US copyright office before January 1923.,_Livingstonia%22_Malawi,_ca.1895_(imp-cswc-GB-237-CSWC47-LS3-1-038).jpg

The statue of a child reading on a bench is called Captivated. It's in the public library in St. Helier in Jersey. That's in the Channel Islands, where Meredith the cat helped me find all the best benches in St. Helier. How well did Meredith do? Well, let's just say it was a catastrophe.

The barefoot woman is reading on a bench in Riverside Park along the Hudson River in New York City. She was photographed by Ed Yourdon in 2008. Ed has many candid shots of his city, many featuring people on benches. By Ed Yourdon at, CC BY-SA 2.0. I found the photo at

My Dutch isn't very good but I think the elderly couple on a bench are Simon and Tiny Carmiggelt, who lives in the town of Rheden in The Netherlands. Simon (1913-1987) was a writer who wrote a humourous and melancholy daily column in Het Parool. Funded by the generosity of the community, the bronze sculpture is by artist Wim Kuyl and it was unveiled in 1990 by Tiny, after Simon died. Sadly, the statue was stolen in January 2012 and found a few days later cut into pieces.  The photograph of the statue is by user Neozoon, CC BY-SA 3.0 at Wikimedia

Wally Gobetz is a prolific photographer of interesting artistic and historical works and he is very thorough in photographing the brilliant sculptures of Seward Johnson at the Grounds For Sculpture,  a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. The grounds feature over 270 large scale contemporary sculptures and Wally has photographed many of them. A Retrospective of Seward Johnson's work presents an overview of the New Jersey sculptor's 50-year career through a lifetime collection of over 150 of his works. Two of these appear in the story. The man with a newspaper is called Waiting (1989) The man and woman together are Sharing the Headlines (1994)

The woman reading a book while relaxing on a wooden bench beneath a linden tree is close to the  Saint Johannes church  in Voelkendorf, Villach, 
Carinthia, Austria. The photographer is Johann Jaritz, who has licensed it under Creative Commons 3.0 at
curid=5164712  You can get high on our alpine benches from Austria, Germany and Switzerland at 

Eddie Cantor is the man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper in about 1919. The headline seems to be news about Senate ratification of treaties at end of World War I.  Eddie Cantor (1892 - 1964)was an American comedian, singer, actor, songwriter. This image is from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ggbain.36121 and is in the Public Domain

The beautiful cottage with a man reading his newspaper is an intriguing work by Danish painter Hans Andersen Brendekilde (1857-1942). You may notice that the other man is missing a leg. The painting was created in 1912 and is one of many paintings featuring rural life in Denmark. Several even show this same cottage. The works of H.A. Brendekilde are available on Wikimedia at

Seika lives in Jakarta. Most of her shots are unsuspecting bystanders, like the man in red reading paper in Jakarta in 2012. Seika says photography is her time-passing activity and she truly believes she'd die of boredom without her camera.

The photo with Mark Twain reading a book was taken at Walter's Ferry on the Snake River in Idaho many years ago. Pat McDonald from Boise photographed his cousin Gerhard from Germany, who appears to be trying to persuade Twain to put down his book. If it's Huckleberry Finn, no wonder he wants to keep reading. Cleo's Ferry Museum is a sculpture park in Melba, Idaho, and from all accounts, it's a gem of a place.  

The three girls trying to attract the attention of a man on a bench are The Three Graces, a painting by Italian genre painter Enrico Tarenghi (1848–1938). It is in the public domain. 
Speaking of Italian art and Italian food: we have some tasty Italian benches here on Benchsite.

Companion 5 is the name of the clownish person sitting next to a man with a newspaper in Bratislava in 2014. The photographer is Vratislav Darmek. I don't know any more than that.

Summer Evening Beside the Lake is an 1897 painting by Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943) from the Geidai Museum in Japan. It's now in the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, photographed by

For World Book Day in 2013 Mungo started a book group. The only other members were our cats, Rosie and Melissa. Mungo chose the book, A History of Calculus, which, judging from the picture I took of both cats sleeping, was not enough to hold their attention. Then again, holding a cat's attention is not always that easy, especially when you're in a sunroom on a warm afternoon. 

Doug Zwick photographed the man with a computer, who is seeing Bad News. He's on the McGill campus in Montreal and the statue commemorates the passing of Steve Jobs. The laptop screen reads Steve Jobs est mort 1955 - 2011

Root's incredibly glamorous reading teacher is The Diva, who appeared at The Rouge opening party in 2008. Looks like the Rouge might be a nightclub or perhaps even some other kind of place Lord B might like to frequent. The photo is by Jessyka Richard, who has flickred her second life at

Kathy Thomas's Leatherarts work is hand-tooled and hand-painted. She emphasises that her pieces are not just to look at - they're for wearing, carrying or putting to good use. She has a wide range of colourful and exciting purses, key fobs, wallets, notebooks, belts and will accept commissions. The purse with Woman Reclining on a Bench is a replica of the painting by Carl Olaf Larsson. Her shop is at  There are issues about sleeping on benches though; see what lengths people will go to stop people sleeping on benches.   

No comments:

Post a Comment