Friday, 12 April 2013

A stack of book benches for World Book Day

World Book Day is April 23rd, though here in the UK it was March 7th this year because in Britain we always have to be slightly awkward. Back in March I asked some of the people I know, both real and imaginary, to comment on their reading habits. I've also found a stack of wonderful new book benches to show you. 

Here is Bill Woodrow's Sitting on History book bench. I saw it at Cass Sculpture Park in Sussex but there seems to be one at the Milton Keynes Mall and another one in London in the lobby of the British Library. 

my photograph, 2009

My husband, His Excellency: This bench is admirable but it wouldn't suit me. When I read I like a nice comfy armchair. I'm partial to a good log fire and a glass of red and a china plate with a sliver of a locally-made cheese from the deli in Fribble. After a spot of reading I like to go for a smoke on the deck and look out over the marsh. Then 

Sorry. If commenters could keep it short please.

These books are nicely filed and you can sit where you find them.

His Excellency: Well, these are pleasant enough and it looks like good quality oak but as I said, I like

I'm going to cut in here and show you an amazing book bench from Jacqueline Le Bleu in Amsterdam. It's called Booked and it's made from real books with linen covers.

You can get a table to go with it and you can even order one made in your favourite colours.

Miggy, my best imaginary friend: This is a beautiful bench and I saw it when I was in Amsterdam. I wasn't sure it would hold me. When I travel I  like to eat a lot, for example, here is a picture of me having some chips in the Dutch town of Oldenzaal.

Note to readers: the Booked bench will definitely take weight. It has been very cleverly designed with a solid frame. 

Note to forum contributors: please could you stick to the topic of BOOKS.

Troy recently came to Paradise Island from his home in Dry Heaves, Minnesota. 

Troy, as an experienced pilgrim, what are your favourite book benches? 

Troy: At the moment I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.

I love to read about the planets and outer space. The rotation of Earth makes my day. 

And I'm very fond of sea stories.

Miggy: Buoys will be buoys I guess. 

Of course the adventure books of childhood are always a treasure, whatever your expectations.

Troy: Yes, when I read I feel that I'm in Wonderland. 

And the classics are always old favourites too.

Tamsin is a local girl who works in the Nearly Good Enough Pharmacy. Though she has a Not Quite Competent certificate in handing out prescriptions, I'm not sure if she can read.  

Tamsin: I have a sweet little necklace that my boyfriend Root gave me. It's a woman on a bench reading a book. I wonder what book it is?

Eddie, my Inner Editor, who happens to be a primate: Ohhhhh, it has to be The Jungle Book for me.  

Thank you, Eddie. I'm glad someone is sticking to the subject. 

Eddie: Or Tarzan. Or Planet of the Apes. Or King Kong. 

Some people describe themselves as Book Nuts. I'm not exactly sure what a Book Nut is, but here's a bench that might help.

Tamsin: I think this woman must be a book nut because she's ignoring the man who would like to talk to her. They could fall in love and get married and live happily ever after.  

my photo, Nesselwang, Germany

His Excellency: That's what's called fiction, Tamsin.

If you're nutty about books you probably like bookshops and libraries. Though libraries nowadays are just boxes of books.

Ploeremel, France

Here in Fribble-under-Par we're very proud to have our own independent bookshop.

His Excellency: It's funny how the Honesty Pipe idea hasn't caught on at Waterstones or Borders.

You may prefer the old bookshops of Paris. And you'd like the parks too. In St. Germain there is a little park near the Institut de France which has some lovely and much-photographed book benches:

St Helier library in Jersey has a nice book bench too. 

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

Mrs. Paragon, my neighbour: This child seems very well behaved compared to my own children. My Virtue was a little terror.

Virtue: I resent that. I was a model of good behaviour. Still am.

BOOKS, people, please.

The book benches gave me an idea: I thought it would be witty to make a book bench out of books about benches. And then people could sit on the book bench and read about benches.

Mungo, my imaginary husband: And just where are you going to find all these books about benches? I'll bet you can't even name one.

Errrr. Maybe not at the moment. Ask me later. 

Right now I'm trying to get through this post and it's proving difficult because I've involved too many people. I can see that now.

Tamsin: I think it's lovely that you have invited people from Fribble-under-Par to talk together. No one feels excluded. We are all friends. 

Biff, one of the Fribble Agro gang: Speak for yourself. This town is full of losers.

What part of the word BOOKS don't you people understand?

Tamsin: It's just that books are really boring compared to fashion. I like to look through fashion magazines.

Miggy: Me too. 

His Excellency: The quality of models seems to be dropping. They're all rather faceless these days.

Could we stop with the fashion talk now please. I have two philosophical questions: 

  1. with the dominance of digital online publications, will the function of hard copy books become only as objects of art?
  2. book benches outside - a good idea? 
My imaginary friend Fenestra is a nurse.

She thinks everyone will have to make up his or her own mind on these questions. 

Fenestra: Everyone will have to make up his or her own mind on these questions.

In answer to question two, this bookshop in Duvall, Washington thinks benches outside are a good idea. They've put a book bench right outside their shop. The bench is made entirely of books. 

Joe Mabel @

It’s a funny thing with book benches. Once outside, they aren't going to last long. In Quebec in 2010 40,000 books and wood plates were left outside to decay and dissolve in a garden. Is this a good thing do you think?

Miggy:  I once tried to read War and Peace. That lasted too long. I find that popcorn works quite well when you're bored with your book. I like it salted with 

Enough about food, Migs. What do you feel about the decaying books?

Miggy: I wish War and Peace had been one of them. 

Tell you what, Migs. Here's an old photo I took of you. It's not very flattering. 

You're on a bench with a book that's appropriate to your, ahem, circumstances. It's called Eat Yourself Slim. 

Miggy:  Never read it. Never did it. Took one look and went back to the popcorn.

Moving swiftly on. 

What about this brilliant newspaper bench? It's made from 334 recycled newspapers and three metal bars; that's all. No screws, no nails, no glue.

His Excellency: This is very amusing. I would like to sit on the newspaper bench whilst reading The Sunday Times. 

Virtue:  You need to get a life.

Miggy's mum: Is this strong enough to sit on? Even for Miggy?

Indeed it is. Here's proof.

Some people like to join a reading group. Mungo started a reading group here in Fribble-under-Par. However, this meeting doesn’t look very successful. Our cats Melissa and Rosie say that next time they’re not letting Mungo choose the book. 

Mungo:  What's wrong with A Complete History of Calculus?

Mind you, a cat may not be the best judge of what makes a good book. 

Here is Meredith, one of my many guest editors on this blog. 

Meredith:  I am an extremely well-read cat. But some people hire a cat as a guest editor and then don't take full advantage of their skills.

I'm going to stop you right there, Meredith.

Meredith's right though. It's well known that cats go together with books.

In my experience, if a cat's on a bench, with or without a book, it tends to be sleeping. Now don't get me wrong, I like sleeping. It's what gets me up in the morning. 

Meredith:  I personally don't have any problem sleeping. When I guest edited the Bench Town St. Helier post I kept nodding off and this had a detrimental effect on

Yes, quite. 

My dog Sit: I am finding this particular post too cat-centric.

You're right, Sit. I'll redress the balance here by showing my imaginary friend Fenestra's dog Fudge reading a thesaurus.

Eddie: This looks like a bus timetable.

It's a thesaurus. There's no other word for it. 

Eddie: As ever, your editing skills are abysmal. This is not a book bench of any sort. It is merely someone ON a bench. And Fudge is not reading the timetable, he's just holding it.

Let's get back to books. Here is a book bench which is designed by a company which supplies furniture to public libraries. Book benches feature strongly:

Lord Brassica is the Fifth Earl of Drizzly. Here he is with his beloved 1947 Landrover.

Lord B:  I don't think I've ever been in a library.

Eddie:  Don't they have libraries at Eton?

Lord Brassica: They do, yes, but when I was eight I read such a good book I never needed to read another one.

Miggy:  What was the book?

Lord Brassica: I don't remember. It was yellow.

It's great to see a forum-like thing going on here. Would anyone else like to join in? 

Lady Jessica Brassica: I hire someone to read to me while I bathe in the evenings. 

I subscribe to a reading service called Young Male Readers dot com. They send the loveliest young men. Some of them can actually read

Here is Phil, her Young Male Reader for tonight. He's wondering how much time he's got for reading War and Peace. He's worried that even an extracted version will cause him to miss the midnight ferry. 

© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Root is the eldest son of Lord Brassica. He's well known for being drunk on the benches of Fribble but he's not bright enough to be truly disorderly.

Root: I can't see the point of reading. 

Eddie:  Here's the bench for you. You can start with this one and work your way through the alphabet.

Root:  Good idea. What comes after A?

Looks like there's a real interest in books here in Fribble and Drizzly. Maybe we ought to start a reading group?

Rosie and Melissa: We tried that. It was dire.

Mungo: What's wrong with Everything You Might Need to Know About Electrical Circuitry?

Miggy: Sorry, Mung. If we do get a reading group started I don't think we'll let you choose the books.

What about one of those Leave A Book on A Bench schemes like they have in cities? Would that work in Fribble and Drizzly do you think?

Everyone in Fribble:  NO! 

OK, fine, we'll move on then.

You may find yourself wanting to make some notes about your book. If so, you’ll need a pencil bench for that.

This one contains 1600 pencils and you can take out any that you need and write with them. And each pencil is individually sprung so apparently the bench is comfortable.

Eddie:  Could be useful for editing. If I ever get my job back.

Virtue: Yeah, when is Eddie coming back? We love Eddie.

Root:  Yeah. Bring Back Eddie!

Tamsin:  It would be lovely to see Eddie back. 

Mrs. Paragon:  In my opinion Eddie was an excellent editor. 

Lord Brassica:  Eddie is a jolly nice chap.

 His Excellency: I think you'll find that Eddie has friends in high places. 

In the meantime, I would like to finish this post. I am editing it by myself and finding it extremely difficult. 

Meredith: You shouldn't have fired me then, should you?

Eddie: You shouldn't have been there, Meredith. You took my job.

Meredith:  Tough luck, Zoobreath.

I'm going to give up now.

Whatever you do or did on World Book Day, I hope you find or found yourself a good book and a nice bench to read it on.

For World Book Day 2017 I tried to have a Quiet Read but it didn't turn out that way. For World Book Day 2015 check out a whole new stack of book benches. Libraries under threat, militant librarians, Dewey Decimal ducks - the good people of Fribble have something to say about it all!


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

I hope this forum has convinced you that here on Paradise Island we are literate and extremely learned folk. 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 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 woodwork. Mungo, 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 at Valentine's Day

The oak book benches were made for Clarkston Primary School in North Lanarkshire in 2010. They were photographed by Justin Wilson whose website is at

The Booked bench is by designer Jacqueline le Bleu at  The artist describes it as 'a tribute to the book'. It is from the Emerging Benchmarks mobile exhibit of benches designed from reclaimed materials. Jacqueline Le Bleu will create benches or tables in your favourite colours. Her Booked bench features as B in the full alphabet of Dutch benches.

Troy breezed into our town this summer. He's very well read and his occupation is Pilgrim. He knows a lot about Turkey benches. Apart from that, 1) he comes from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, where he learned to read poetry in a particularly alluring voice  2) he never wears shoes  3) he is extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm 4) he speaks a lot of languages fluently 5) he carries a manbag filled with books, a violin and a ladder in case anyone needs to be rescued. 

The book bench with four children's books was photographed in 2008 at the Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling, Illinois. The photographer is Anthony Auston, who is a point and shoot librarian. That's what it says in his profile. I think the point and shoot bit is probably his camera.

The woman reading on the tiny green bench is a necklace from the jewelry collection of Yael and Tal at  They have all sorts of bench jewelry in their etsy shop. Their facebook page is at

The book-ends statue of the woman reading a book and the man sitting on the other end of the bench is one I saw in Nesselwang, Germany. Up close it appears that the woman might possibly be more interested in the man than in the book.

Tamsin Pink is a sweet local girl who works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. Tamsin is the Queen of Cute and she's very sweet but golly, she's not a bright budgie. Still, she has a unique perspective on benches. And if you think my love life is complicated, you ought to see Tamsin's

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

Eddie is my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. If you've seen much of Benchsite you will know what a problem Eddie is for me. He has ruined helped me edit the post about my swimming bench and the Blue Monday benches.  He interfered with stepped in to help with the Orange bench mystery. However, he has a habit of setting his own agenda with the benches. Look what a mess he made great job he did on St. George's Day . And as for my Red benches in February? No wonder I was very grateful seeing red. I've had a bit of a break from him as he's been in Mexico for a while. Now he's back and the primate pictures are in danger of overwhelming my stories.

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 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 by Young Male Readers dot com. She is happily married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, but this summer Lady Jess has been spending rather a lot of time at her beach hut with Troy. Lady Brassica and her friend Phil are both from  Dreamstime Stock images. Jessica is from     Phil is from

The independent bookshop shown is actually not in Fribble, it's in Minehead in Somerset. I saw it in summer 2013, when it had a full shelf of books and a good sale - any book for £1. The Honesty Pipe method of paying is low tech but maybe not as secure as some bookstores would like. 

The Paris book benches are from the Architect Design blog at  There are some goregous buildings and some beautiful benches on this blog. Check out the Red House Settle book bench (September 2012). 

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. Biff is another one of the Fribble Agro gang (he's the purple snarling one). The Agro mostly hang out at bus shelter and they may seem not up to much but they came up trumps when helping me with my bus stop benches

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

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 also appears in the World Book Day post in 2018. 

The Robin Hood doubled-closed book bench is from the Nansen Group Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. They are professional library planners so they have quite a range of book benches, including my favourite childhood book, Charlotte's Web. Their website is at

The Stack of Books Bench can be added to your cart for $6,400. It is available at They have a full range of benches with and without people sitting on them. 

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.

The 334 newspaper bench is by French designer Oscar Lhermitte from his project X in 2008.  It is made from 334 recycled newspapers and three metal bars. Really. No glue, no screws, no nails. Many thanks for his permission to show it. His website is at  The picture of the 334 bench with the girl sitting on it is all over the internet to the extent that I couldn't find its original source. 

The image of the nurse and patient are a cartoon from a January 19, 1916 volume 150 edition of Punch, made available by Their statement reads: This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at The terms of the license are that I publish the statement. For a marvelous story about feelgood benches see the World Health Day post.   

The Duvall bookstore bench is on Main Street in Duvall, Washington, near Seattle. The bookshop website is at   Looks like a real book treasure-trove; I'm going to make a point to visit it next time I'm in Seattle. The photo is from Joe Mabel on

The 40,000 books are (or were?) decaying in the Jardin de la Connaissance in Quebec. Designers are Berlin landscape architect Thilo Folkerts and Canadian artist Rodney Latourelle, who put the books there in 2010. The garden of decaying books is 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. It costs £75.77.  Her shop is at  There are issues about sleeping on benches though; see what lengths people will go to stop people sleeping on benches.   

The pink pencil bench, which also comes in yellow, appeared on as one of their Top 10 Unusual Benches. It won a Cornwall Design award in 2007. The designer is Boex 3D Creative Solutions at  Many thanks to Sam Boex for permission to use these images.

The joke about reading one book is from Nancy Mitford's novels about her family. Her father, the 2nd Lord Redesdale, claimed to have only ever read one book (White Fang, by Jack London). This seems unlikely as the family had a whole library of books.

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