By Carolyn Quimby | @CarolynQuimby, @WornBookSmell
Fifty benches shaped like open books have popped up all over London.
The project called Books about Town, which opened to the public on July 2, is the joint effort of the National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art. The National Literacy Trust is dedicated to raising the literacy rate in the UK, and Wild in Art promotes art by creating “mass participation public art events.”
Some of the books immortalized on the benches include The Importance of Being Earnest, Mrs. Dalloway, The Canterbury Tales, the Sherlock Holmes stories, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Decorated by professional illustrators and local artists, the benches are found along four trails — the Bloomsbury Trail, City Trail, Greenwich Trail, and Riverside Trail — and share a common theme: London.
There are two things that immediately struck me about the project. The first was the mixing of artistic mediums–writing and sculpture and painting. It’s an interesting way of bringing the books to life. People will be able to sit and touch and interact with their favorite texts in a completely new, unique way. Though they’ve been told their whole life that they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, people can do just that (though I don’t know how they’d think the benches were anything but stunning — I mean, look at The Day of the Triffids bench).
The second thing was the breadth and scope of the literature the project has brought to life. Spanning over hundreds of years, the benches include classic books like Around the World in Eighty Days and Pride and Prejudice, as well as contemporary favorites like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Fever Pitch. So many different authors and genres are showcased, which gives the project mass appeal.
Honestly, I really love the Books about Town project and wish I could go to London to see the benches in person. The one bittersweet thing about the project is that it isn’t permanent — the sculptures will be removed on September 15. In October, the benches will be auctioned at an exclusive event to raise money for the National Literacy Trust.
If you haven’t already checked out the full list of benches, you can see it here. You can also find more information about the project and it’s corresponding events/giveaways, you can check out Books about Town’s Facebook and Twitter.
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What’s your favorite bench? Will you have a chance to see them in person?