Benches built from books unveiled in George Street
Top Scottish authors were the first to try out Edinburgh’s new ‘book benches’ after they were installed in Dobbies' urban gardens in George Street today.
Widely billed as the biggest trend in American town planning, the aim of a ‘parklet’ is to create a vibrant community space that celebrates the city it is based in. Edinburgh’s are the UK’s first and are supplied in partnership with Dobbies and Essential Edinburgh.
The four hand-carved sit-on sculptures, built from wooden versions of Edinburgh’s favourite books, have been commissioned and installed by the City of Edinburgh Council to commemorate the 10th anniversary year of the city’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener, said: “As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Scotland’s Capital city is a genuine hub for all things linked to literature. These additions to the city’s streets to celebrate 10 years of this fantastic designation can only go to reinforce that status further.
“You could get lost tracing through the rows upon rows of books featured in these sculptures. Like any good bookshelf, you’re sure to find a title that suits your tastes.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: “For the last year we have pedestrianised parts of George Street to test different uses of the space to encourage more people to visit. This has been very successful with footfall increasing in every block.
“It was suggested by interested groups, including members of the public and local businesses, that more seating would we welcomed for those just wanting to take in the stunning Georgian architecture and relax with some essential Edinburgh reading on George Street.”
Crafted by Peter Graham of Bespoke Design with the support of DWA
Landscape Architects Ltd, the benches are intended to celebrate the Scottish
Capital’s reputation as a home of great literature.
A list of the city’s ‘top 40’ titles as compiled by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust can be found carved into the sculptures.
Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust director, Ali Bowden said: “Contributing just 40 writers from a City of Literature that has hundreds of brilliant poets, storytellers and writers is a deadly and impossible task. We called on the help of book fans online and, with a lot of careful thinking, we put together 40 of the books that make up the benches.
“Some of these books have changed the world and all of them are fantastic reads. People shouldn’t just sit on them, but go visit their local library or bookshop and get a copy!”
The benches will remain in the urban gardens until later this year
before touring other city locations. The gardens, known as ‘parklets’,
have been designed to provide green spaces in the city centre.
The book benches have been designed to emulate titles that might be found in a New Town home. The selection includes the following 40 books as chosen by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust:
44 Scotland Street (2004) by Alexander McCall Smith
Complicity (1993) by Iain Banks
The Fanatic (2000) by James Robertson
The Game of Kings (1961) by Dorothy Dunnett
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) by Muriel Spark
Trainspotting (1993) by Irvine Welsh
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006) by Maggie O'Farrell
Waverley (1814) by Sir Walter Scott
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) by James Hogg
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Noctes Ambrosianae (1820 – 1835) by John Wilson et al.
Marriage (1818) by Susan Ferrier
The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771) by Tobias Smollett
A Treatise of Human Nature (1740) by David Hume
Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes (1878) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Theory of the Earth (1788) by James Hutton
History of the Reformation in Scotland (1586-1587) by John Knox
Mary Queen of Scots (1969) by Antonia Fraser
The Silent Traveller in Edinburgh (1948) by Chiang Yee
Curiosities of Crime in Edinburgh (1861) by James McLevy
Royal Edinburgh: Her Saints, Kings, Prophets and Poets (1890) by Margaret Oliphant
Boswell's Edinburgh Journals 1767-1786 by James Boswell
Robert Fergusson Selected Poems (2007) edited by James Robertson
The Poems of Norman MacCaig (2005) edited by Ewen McCaig
The Ever Green (1724) by Allan Ramsay
The Magicians of Edinburgh(2012) by Ron Butlin
Luckenbooth: An Anthology of Edinburgh Poetry (2007) edited by Lizzie MacGregor
Body Politic (1997) by Paul Johnston
Fatal Last Words (2009) by Quintin Jardine
Black and Blue (1987) by Ian Rankin
Case Histories (2004) by Kate Atkinson
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) by J.K. Rowling
Fleshmarket (2003) by Nicola Morgan
Maisie Comes to Morningside (1984) by Aileen Paterson
Greyfriars Bobby (1912) by Eleanor Atkinson
A Child's Garden of Verses (1885) by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Night Sessions (2008) by Ken MacLeod
Player of Games (1989) by Iain M. Banks
Halting State (2007) Charles Stross