Since I first heard the idea floating around, I’ve been excited about Books About Town, a project aimed at raising awareness and funds to increase literacy levels in the UK.
As part of the collab between The National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art fifty-one benches in London now let you experience a book in one sitting. Here are twelve of my favourites.
#1 Great Expectations
With a Starry Night feel.
Author: Charles Dickens
Artist: Ivan Liotchev
“We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.”
#2 Through the Looking Glass
And back to wonderland.
Author: Lewis Carroll
Artist: Ralph Steadman
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
#3 Nighteen Eighty Four
The controlled world of Big Brother breaks out in colour and individuality.
Author: George Orwell
Artist: Thomas Dowdeswell
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
#4 Sit here at your own risk
Inspired by Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
Author: Stephen Hawking
Artist: Paraig O’Driscoll
“The universe doesn’t allow perfection.”
#5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Author: C.S. Lewis
Artist: Quad Digital Mandii Pope
“None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning–either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now.”
#6 James Bond Stories
With 007’s License to Kill.
Author: Ian Fleming
Artist: Freyja Dean
“You only live twice:
Once when you’re born
And once when you look death in the face.”
#7 Dr Seuss
Mayhem and madness with the Cat in the Hat and other characters.
Author: Theodor Seuss Geisel
Artist: Theodor Seuss Geisel (artwork) Created by Jane Headford
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
#8 Mrs Dalloway
The perfect spot for party planning.
Author: Virginia Woolf
Artist: One Red Shoe
“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.”
#9 Elmer the Elephant
A patchwork of colours.
Author: David McKee
Artist: David McKee (original illustrations) Created by Giles Boardman
“There was once a herd of elephants. Elephants young, elephants old, elephants tall or fat or thin. Elephants like this, that or the other, all different but all happy and all the same colour. All, that is, except Elmer.”
#10 Dickens in Liverpool
The only bench to be painted by school students.
Author: Charles Dickens
Artist: Hillside School
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
#11 On the Origin of Species
Helping to form the world’s ideas of evolutionary biology.
Author: Charles Darwin
Artist: Jane Veveris Callan
“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
#12 Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.
Because nothing says London like Paddington Bear. Just make sure you don’t sit on him.
Author: Michael Bond
Artist: Michelle Heron
The National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art have collaborated to bring the open book shaped benches – designed by local illustrators and artists – to London. At the end of summer the benches will be auctioned off to raise money toward increasing literacy levels in the UK.
What do you think about Books About Town? Have you hit up one of the trails and seen the book benches in person? What ideas do you have for a literary project like this in your community? Let me know in the comments.
All images courtesy of Books About Town