Since when are benches so important?

Bench seems like a random enough word, doesn’t it? Random enough for a silly and interesting tag mash at least. Oh, but you’d be surprised. Everything tag I tried to mash with “bench” produced enormous lists of books. Bench and favorites, bench and novel, bench and 20th Century, bench and 19th century, literary fiction benches, owned benches, book club benches – why were there so many books about benches, or, if they’re not about benches, why are people tagging them that way? Are they books for reading when you’ve been benched? For reading while sitting on a bench? Is bench some important slang in social networking that I’ve somehow missed?

Here are some selections from the tag mash of: bench, literary fiction, because if we’re going to read about benches, we might as well read the good literary stuff.

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Dracula might kill someone with a bench?)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (a favorite of ours – but, still not sure where the benches come in.)
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (I’m sure it’s a magical realist bench. Or not really a bench at all!)
  • A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
  • Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
  • Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton (Both! Benches in them both, lost and regained!)
  • The Dante Club: A Novel by Matthew Pearl
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare ( I really don’t even know. Is it a stage direction?)
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (I’m sure Bridget does something embarrassing on or near a bench. Even in the movie version!)
  • Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (She throws herself in front of a….bench?)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Complete Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton
  • The Winter Queen by Grigori Schalwowitsch Tschchartischwili (Forget benches. Look at that guy’s name!)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (The lonely life of a bench?)
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Beowulf by Seamus Heaney (Really. Really?)
  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (He writes a lot of basketball stories – and when you’re not playing, you’re on the bench…)

Benches: the new chick lit? Or the new requirement if you want your book to be featured on the Today Show Book Club?


2 responses to “Since when are benches so important?

  1. Weird stuff interests me, so here’s some more on the tag “bench.” In LibraryThing, one user (TerriB) is responsible for 98.6% of all things tagged with “bench.” Several of this user’s tags might indicate where her (guessing gender from picture) personal copies are located (“Box 5,” for instance), but I somehow doubt that she has 348 books on a bench somewhere. “Bench” is this user’s 5th most commonly used tag.

    I love mysteries. In this case, I think my guesses might be more fun than the real explanation, but that doesn’t make the guessing any less fun.

  2. I am so glad you cleared that up – I mean, Beowulf? Really?! Although now I’m forced to wonder about TerriB…

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