Edgar Allan Poe

I recently borrowed Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe from the local library. I am sure I have read something by Poe before while at school – that dreadful place to get acquainted with literature. I also remember an actor that came to our school to do a monologue that must have been a story by Poe. What I am trying to say is that I am fairly unacquainted with his writing and it was partly because of that that I pick up the book.

What I do know about Poe is his reputation for writing gruesome horror poems. This, however, was short-stories. The first few stories I did not like very much; to be honest, I found them tedious. All of them mused on a woman, the story told by a man in love with her – at least at the start of the story. Maybe I would have liked them better, if I had not read one after the other. Now it felt like I read the same story over and over.

I had given up on the book and had decided to get a new book from the library when there followed a few stories of another character – even a Sherlock Holmes-style detective story. I liked these more intellectual and action based stories better than the previous. Reluctantly, I exchanged books at the library, vaguely wondering if I ought to give Poe another chance.

Books About Town

The National Literacy Trust currently has a Books about Town event that will be running until September 2. Special sculptures, in the shape of book benches, have been design by local artists to celebrate London’s literary heritage and that we read for enjoyment. There are 50 benches scattered around London to combine into four walks, each bench with its own literary theme.

I love this idea and I have already completed three of the four walks. I would think book worms are rather sedentary people, favourite places being either a spot in the shade or curled up in a sofa – where we read. These walks are an excellent way to get us book worms moving. If there is something we like just as much as reading, it is to connect with our favourite characters – one way or another. Some of the book benches are a little childish in their design so suite my taste, others are a real treat, while yet others are plain funny. Most depict their theme brilliantly.

A few weekends ago, Mary Poppins were handing out books by her bench outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was vaguely hoping to get a free copy since I have never read Mary Poppins, but the gifts were clearly reserved for kids. To watch the kids interact with Poppins though, made it worth going without a free copy myself. Afterwards I walked around finding the other benches on the City Trail – Peter Pan, Fever Pitch and Bridget Jones, among others. Dickens’ were a bit tricky since some morons had decided to have their lunch on his bench. Note to readers – the benches are sculptures and not actual places to sit. Apart from running the risk of them being ruined, other books-about-town-walkers will not be able to see the bench.

There was another happening, the other week, as Sherlocks gathered by the Sherlock bench in Bloomsbury as part of a Guinness World Record attempt with the most number of people dressed as Sherlock. As I was in the area, I walked the Bloomsbury Trail to see the other benches nearby.

To see the benches all you have to do is print or download the trails from the internet and head on out for your own literary walk.

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The Mary Poppins bench

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Poppins handing out books

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Mrs. Dalloway

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The Importance of Being Ernest

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Sherlocks gathered by the Sherlock bench

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Jeeves and Wooster

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Aslan from the Narnia books

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The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe

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Dr. Seuss

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Dr. Seuss

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The Paddington bench

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Paddington himself