Kentucky is neck-deep in literary talent. Celebrated writers such as Wendell Berry, Sue Grafton, Silas House, Barbara Kingsolver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Thomas Merton, Norman Gurney, Jesse Stuart, Hunter S. Thompson, and Robert Penn Warren call the commonwealth home or have (or had) Kentucky roots.

Now Lexington is celebrating Kentucky’s rich literary heritage with book benches. The project is a collaboration between Arts Connect, LexArts, and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Thirty-five fiberglass benches, shaped like open books, will be painted and embellished with themes drawn from Kentucky writers. A similar project in London, England, yielded book benches honoring (on the right, top to bottom) the works of Charles Dickens, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Below are benches honoring the James Bond books by Ian Fleming and Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly by Agatha Christie.

Kentucky artists are invited to submit their design ideas by Jan. 15; artists whose designs are selected will be paid for their work. Sponsorships are available to businesses, private citizens, book clubs, neighborhood associations, and other interested parties. See details online.

“Book Benches” Project Issues Call for Artists

For generations, Icelanders have given books to one another on Christmas Eve. The beloved national tradition is called Jólabókaflóð or the Christmas Book Flood. It’s a lovely idea. I envision all of Iceland curled up in front of fireplaces or snuggled in bed, with perhaps some chocolate and a bottle of wine nearby, reading through the night.

I love to give and receive books for Christmas. Books can inform us, educate us, transform us, and transport us to new worlds. This year, consider giving books as holiday gifts, regardless of which holidays you celebrate. Happy holidays to you all.

Books Flood Iceland

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