Recent Reads and Bench Art

Autumn leaves.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #46! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

This Week

It was a week of cooler weather, with a mix of sun, clouds and rain. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 4C to 13C (39F to 55F).

  • I made all my cycling trips and nature walks without getting rained on.
  • I explored two new-to-me recreational trails and loved both.
  • I did my meditation, language lessons, strength training and yoga at home.
  • My neighbour and I enjoyed another 5K walk together.
  • Four friends called me on different days to chat and catch up on our news.
  • I deleted old photos on my phone and freed up memory space for new photos.
  • A few good e-books ‘traveled’ from the library to my digital bookshelf.

Recent Reads

I’m pleased to contribute to the #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads by author’s last name include:

  1. State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny.
  2. Redemption Point by Candice Fox.
  3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
  4. The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth.
  5. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell.
  6. Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce.

I’m rating this batch of books from very good to excellent. Three of the authors, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lisa Jewell, and A.J. Pearce, were new to me. My top three picks are The Nightingale, The Mother-In-Law and Dear Mrs. Bird.

Coincidentally, both The Nightingale (an epic love story and family drama in France) and Dear Mrs. Bird (a story about friendship and love in London, England) are set at the dawn of World War II. I read Dear Mrs. Bird before The Nightingale and greatly enjoyed both stories. Together they give a broad sense of life in World War II across Europe.

The Mother-In-Law is an excellent family mystery. State of Terror and Redemption Point are good page-turner thrillers. Then She Was Gone is a chilling domestic noir. I look forward to reading more books from these authors.

Bench Art

Thinking of books makes me think of benches to sit and read. Do you like the benches and Fall foliage in my header photo? It’s a lovely spot to read or relax.

Here are a few colorful benches that I’ve photographed on my walks. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Don't Just Talk The Talk parklet.
Don’t Just Talk The Talk
Walk The Walk parklet.
Walk The Walk parklet.
Peace Bench by Gabriel Fain Architects.
Peace Bench by Gabriel Fain Architects is one of the winners of Toronto’s Temporary Parklet Design Build Competition in 2020.
Sun + Moon parklet by WeatherstonBruer Associates.
Sun + Moon parklet by WeatherstonBruer Associates is another winner of Toronto’s Temporary Parklet Design Build Competition in 2020.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Linked up with #LifeThisWeek, #PPAC23, #PullUpASeat47.

How was your week? What’s on your bookshelf?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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99 thoughts on “Recent Reads and Bench Art

  1. leannelc November 19, 2021 / 8:19 am

    Interesting bench designs Natalie – I’m not sure that they’re really my thing, but I love that someone took the time to make useful artworks – and you can never have too many seats! A great assortment of reading too – I’ve enjoyed seeing what others have been reading over the last month – I’ve been reading my way through the Fox and O’Hare series, and I’m on the last (9th) book now – and ready to move onto something new.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 6:48 pm

      Hi Leanne, I find these bench colours and designs visually interesting. Thank you for mentioning the Fox and O’Hare series. I like reading detective novels so I added this series to my ‘to borrow’ list. I look forward to reading your blog post on Paint by Numbers.


  2. Jill Weatherholt November 19, 2021 / 8:21 am

    I love the peace benches! I’ve had The Nightingale on my Kindle for sometime now. It’s time to move it up in my queue. Your first photo is gorgeous, Natalie! Have a great weekend.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:03 pm

      Jill, The inspiration for the Peach Bench comes from traditional Japanese joinery techniques. By using the cross lap joints, the strong bench structure can be created with almost no nails or glue. I love the technique, design and colour. I hope you enjoy The Nightingale when you have time to read it. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Alison November 19, 2021 / 8:42 am

    Great post Natalie and love the benches. I’ve read a couple of Lisa Jewels which I enjoyed. I’ll check out the others


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:10 pm

      Thank you, Alison, for your comment. It was my first time reading a novel by Lisa Jewell. Then She Was Gone is a chilling fiction.


      • Alison November 19, 2021 / 7:51 pm

        I’ve read The Truth About Melody Browne which I really enjoyed and Invisible Girl both very different.


        • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:57 pm

          Thank you, Alison. I’ll add the books you mentioned to my TBR list. My library has them.


  4. Dan Antion November 19, 2021 / 9:03 am

    Wow! You had a busy week, Natalie. I love the bench art!


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:16 pm

      Dan, The week didn’t feel busy. I had fun being outdoors and reading fiction is relaxing. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean November 19, 2021 / 10:31 am

    I love the bench art. It’s eye-catching to say the least. All the books you read look interesting. I’d say I’m going to add them to my TBR list, but it’s overflowing at this point. Still, a couple may make it onto the list! 😉


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:21 pm

      Ally, The bench designs and colours got my attention. So many good books, so little time. Perhaps one of the books on my list will bump another book on your TBR and take a higher spot 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gary A Wilson November 19, 2021 / 10:52 am

    The Sun and Moon bench concept is pretty clever. Thanks for sharing and hosting Natalie.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you Gary for your comment. Have a great weekend!


  7. Janis @ November 19, 2021 / 11:10 am

    The bench art is terrific! The only book I have read from your list is The Nightingale, which I enjoyed. I love historical fiction. I’ll check out a couple of the other books you liked.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:30 pm

      Janis, Dear Mrs Bird is historical fiction and much shorter than The Nightingale. I hope you’ll enjoy it if you choose to read it.


  8. Scribble and Scran November 19, 2021 / 11:22 am

    I love the walk the talk seats and just in general the images you post. Thanks for hosting


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:33 pm

      The Walk the Talk seats and texts got my attention. I look forward to reading your coffee share post.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Retirement Reflections November 19, 2021 / 12:45 pm

    Hi, Natalie – Thank you so much for linking up with us at #WOYBS. I love the benches and temporary parklet designs that you have shared. The Sun and Moon is my favourite.
    Like many, I have read The Nightingale, but no others (yet) from your list. I’ve been wondering about the Penny/Clinton one. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it. That was very helpful.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you Donna for hosting #WOYBS and sharing your books and research on the Blue Zone. I’d love to hear your thoughts on “State of Terror” if you chose to read it. It’s an interesting writing collaboration by Penny & Clinton. Have a wonderful weekend!


  10. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 November 19, 2021 / 1:27 pm

    Hi Natalie, thanks for joining us for the #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge. I am a fan of Louise Penny and the Armand Gamache series but haven’t read the Penny/Clinton book. I’ve recently discovered Candice Fox and enjoyed the first two of her books. Loved the Nightingale and I’m a fan of set in the WWII era. I recently read The Rose Code and The Paris Library which you may enjoy. I always enjoy your photos of your adventures and the benches are a perfect addition to my #bringmorecolourintoyourlife challenge. Have a great week.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:49 pm

      Hi Sue, Looks like we have read a few books in common. If you like set in the WWII era, I think you’ll enjoy Dear Mrs. Bird. It’s shorter than The Nightingale. I’ll check out The Paris Library and The Rose Code. I look forward to seeing the colours in your next #bringmorecolourintoyourlife post. Have a great weekend!


  11. Thistles and Kiwis November 19, 2021 / 2:10 pm

    I enjoyed Dear Mrs. Bird as well – read it a while back. Those benches are such fun and so colourful too.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:52 pm

      Barbara, I’m glad to hear you also enjoyed Dear Mrs. Bird and liked the colourful benches that I shared. I look forward to reading your blog post. Have a great weekend!


  12. Lydia C. Lee November 19, 2021 / 4:08 pm

    The Sun & moon are cute! I’ve not read any of the books – and the Clinton one is the only one I’ve even heard of!. Interesting how broad a market there is in the book world.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 7:57 pm

      It’s tough to make a profit writing and publishing books. The Clinton/Penny book was released just about a month ago.


  13. Marsha November 19, 2021 / 4:17 pm

    Hi Natalie, What a wonderful assortment of information here. I do love your book shares. I am just into reading more in the last month. Last week I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Regeneration #1 by Pat Barker, and before that, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley all of which were excellent. The weather is fabulous – 70s during the day and sunshine. I walked 12,000 steps yesterday and worked out at the gym for the first time since all my accidents. Thanks for hosting Coffee Share. 🙂


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:31 pm

      Marsha, Well done with your 12K steps, gym workout and reading! That’s really terrific recovery after all your accidents. Of the three books you mentioned, I haven’t read Regeneration #1. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha November 19, 2021 / 9:19 pm

        Thanks for hosting it. 🙂 I love reading it every week and hooking up with your readers as well.


  14. Jennifer Jones November 19, 2021 / 4:28 pm

    I always love your photos Natalie. These benches are great. I’ve read Nightingale and gave it 5 stars. Have you read Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone? I’ve also read Redemption Point and enjoyed it. I’ve become a fan of Candice Fox. Happy reading for this week.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:34 pm

      Jennifer, I’ve read The Great Alone. It was excellent. I have Candice Fox’s 3rd book “Gone by Midnight” in my TBR queue. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great week!


  15. Debbie November 19, 2021 / 5:14 pm

    Oh Natalie I love the bench art, what a fabulous way to encourage people to use benches!! I’ve read quite a few of the books on your list and am now a huge Candice Fox fan. Thanks for joining in for our #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge and IU’ve updated my post to include your link. I’m also sharing my post for this week’s #weekendcoffeeshare – have a great weekend. I’m about to go for a bike ride in the rain – spring showers are hanging around us at the moment – and I’ll be back later to check out the other posts linked up.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:45 pm

      Thank you Debbie for co-hosting #WOYBS and sharing your post with #weekendcoffeeshare. I hope you have a fun bike ride. I did a two-hour walk earlier today. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. rawsonjl November 19, 2021 / 5:18 pm

    I have the mother in law waiting in my pile of books that I just picked up from the library today! I remember loving Hannah’s book; I am a sucker for a good WWI historical fiction.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:48 pm

      Joanne, If you like WWII fiction, I recommend Dear Mrs. Bird. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on The Mother-In-Law.


  17. csuhpat1 November 19, 2021 / 7:09 pm

    So love the art. Very nice. I am hopefully can do some reading this week. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.


    • Natalie November 19, 2021 / 8:49 pm

      Patrick, I’m glad you like the art that I shared. Have a great weekend and happy reading!


  18. Maria November 20, 2021 / 8:17 am

    Those benches are awesome! I’ve been thinking about making a separate post with photos of benches that I like. There is no end to creativity when it comes to pleasant sitting arrangements in public spaces. Thank you for an inspiring post. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


    • Natalie November 20, 2021 / 1:52 pm

      Yes, there are all kinds of interesting bench designs. I’m glad my post inspired you. I look forward to your post with photos of benches that you like. Have a great weekend, Maria!


  19. Kirstin November 20, 2021 / 10:36 am

    Your week sounds great. I love those benches. I’m reading Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. So far it’s good.


    • Natalie November 20, 2021 / 1:55 pm

      Kirstin, I’m glad you love the benches that I shared. Their colours and designs drew me in. Thank you or mentioning Winter Garden by K. Hannah. I’ll check it out.


  20. dinah November 20, 2021 / 3:19 pm

    Thanks Natalie. I always enjoy your photos! Have a lovely weekend 💜


  21. Diana November 20, 2021 / 8:52 pm

    Hi Natalie!
    Oh the colors of the trees are so gorgeous. I’m always happy to see people posting these Fall beauties! What a wonderful list of books and I love the bench art, the sun and moon are so cute. The peace bench is intricate and beautiful. Thank you for the wonderful coffee and have a great weekend! 💞


    • Natalie November 20, 2021 / 9:10 pm

      Thank you Diana for stopping by. I’m glad you like my photos of the trees and benches. They’re all eye-catching. I hope you’re having a great time with your family. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Ju-Lyn November 20, 2021 / 10:29 pm

    What fun & functional art – I love bench art! Did you capture these over several occasions?


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 8:29 am

      Over two occasions. I photographed the Walk the Walk and Peace benches on one trip as they’re on the same street. The Sun + Moon bench used to be on the same street then it was moved to College Park so I photographed it when I was on another trip to College Park. I’m glad you liked them.


      • Ju-Lyn November 26, 2021 / 2:09 am

        Wow, that is some travelling and planning to get them all!


        • Natalie November 26, 2021 / 7:42 am

          It was easy peasy since they’re all within walking/ cycling distance.


  23. Suzanne@PictureRetirement November 21, 2021 / 8:44 am

    Hi Natalie, my favorite of the benches is the sun and moon – creative and functional. I like physiological thrillers and have read Then She Was Gone. I don’t recall the story in full, but I did enjoy reading it at the time. I’ll suggest The Nightingale and Dear Mrs. Bird for book club reads. We have a number of WWII-era fans in our group. Have a great week.


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 9:12 am

      Hi Suzanne, Dear Mrs. Bird is 281 pages long. The Nightingale is 449 pages long. I mention this in case time is a factor for consideration. Both novels are good for book discussions, especially The Nightingale since it has more characters and drama. I hope you’re doing well. Have a great week and happy Thanksgiving on Thursday to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Astrid November 21, 2021 / 12:07 pm

    The books about World War II sound so interesting. I rarely read historical fiction, but really need to read more of it. I am so happy you managed to do all your cycling and walking without getting rained on.


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 12:33 pm

      Historical fiction is not my usual go-to genre either but I challenge myself to read more widely and have enjoyed discovering new authors and new genres. I’d suggest Dear Mrs. Bird if you wanted to try a historical fiction book. It’s 281 pages long so not too long to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Regina Martins November 21, 2021 / 12:45 pm

    After 6 months of no blogging due to work pressure, I decided to take a look today at what is happening on the blogging front. You were the first one I decided to visit and I’m so glad that you’re still hosting the Weekend Coffee Shares :))

    I’ve made a note of the books you mentioned, to read during my 4 weeks vacation in December/January.

    Hopefully next week I’ll be in time to submit a coffee post. Have a wonderful week ahead!


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 1:39 pm

      Welcome back, Regina! I hope all’s well with you. Yes, I’m still hosting the WCS weekly 🙂 Your upcoming vacation sounds great. I look forward to reading your coffee share post when you have time to write it. Have a great week!


  26. Tena Carr November 21, 2021 / 1:15 pm

    Very interesting bench designs. The pink ones were probably my favorite (but then pink is my favorite color, so 🤷🏻‍♀️). As always, great photos. Enjoy the upcoming week, and ??Happy Thanksgiving?? — Can’t remember if y’all do Thanksgiving over there, or when.


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 1:43 pm

      Tena, Excellent bench choice! The pink Peach bench is beautiful IRL. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October so I’ve already celebrated it 🙂 Have a great week and happy Thanksgiving on Thursday if you celebrate it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tena Carr November 21, 2021 / 1:44 pm

        Yes.. We’ll actually a be celebrating with extended family on Wednesday (going out to dinner) and then a small Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday, just me hubby and our son.


        • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 3:23 pm

          Your dinner plans sound great. Have a great week and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

          Liked by 1 person

  27. Liesbet @ Roaming About November 21, 2021 / 5:38 pm

    I love those benches – more amazing art in Toronto. What does “parklet” mean? Is that a wood material? I don’t read much, but I have read The Nightingale and really loved it. Such an amazing and well-written novel. Historical fiction must be my favorite fiction genre. Do you have a favorite reading genre, Natalie?


    • Natalie November 21, 2021 / 6:41 pm

      Hi Liesbet, I’m glad you love those benches. I like unique designs and fun colours. A parklet in this context, refers to a temporary lateral surface that can be used as additional space for street furniture, landscaping, outdoor cafés and other pedestrian-related amenities. Toronto allows these parklet installations to widen sidewalks. The parklets are removed during winter months to accommodate snow clearing.

      I thought Kristin Hannah had done a great job researching and writing The Nightingale. I can see it turned into a film. I don’t have a favourite reading genre. I like variety so I usually borrow e-books in different genres and switch genres during the month. How about you? What’s your favourite book genre?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liesbet @ Roaming About November 21, 2021 / 10:59 pm

        Thanks for the explanation about “parklet.” Another word I learned. I enjoy historical fiction and memoir the best, other than non-fiction books about subjects that interest me. I actually love reading and wish I had more time to do it. As a kid and teenager, I was probably my most favorite pastime! 🙂


        • Natalie November 22, 2021 / 10:33 am

          So many good books to read and so little time. I hope you get to return to your favourite pastime soon. Have a happy Thanksgiving and happy birthday this week, Liesbet!


          • Liesbet @ Roaming About November 22, 2021 / 10:56 am

            Thank you so much. Natalie! We will be spending it all in the Arizona desert, like last year but by ourselves this time.


  28. navasolanature November 22, 2021 / 9:28 am

    I love the benches and great to catch up with you and all your reading explorations too. A great idea.


    • Natalie November 22, 2021 / 10:36 am

      Georgina, So nice to hear from you. How have you been? I hope all’s well with you and you’re back in Spain. I’m glad you love the benches that I shared. I look forward to reading your blog post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • navasolanature November 28, 2021 / 7:33 am

        Yes, finally back in Spain but travel is so much form filling now and proving tests and vaccines. Still we all need to be as safe as we can and also need to travel.


  29. Jo November 22, 2021 / 5:24 pm

    I’m a tad late in getting to posts – have been doing a massive relocation in the day job and on calls all weekend. Ugh. Anyways, love these benches – particularly the don’t just talk the talk one. There are a few on your list that are also on mine & I’ve heard great things about The Nightingale and The Mother In Law. So many books so little time.


    • Natalie November 22, 2021 / 5:32 pm

      Wow, you’ve been busy, Jo. I hope the relocation goes well and you’re back to normal work hours this week or soon. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Susanne November 23, 2021 / 2:28 pm

    Those benches are so cool! They remind me of benches I’ve seen in Spain. It sounds like you had a good week and I hope this one is good for you too.


    • Natalie November 23, 2021 / 3:20 pm

      Thank you Susanne for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the benches. They’re fun and functional. This week is very good to me so far. I hope your week is also going well.


  31. Teresa November 23, 2021 / 3:35 pm

    Love the autumn foliage. And the public art is interesting!


    • Natalie November 23, 2021 / 4:21 pm

      Thank you Teresa for stopping by. Fall colours are beautiful here. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Denyse Whelan Blogs November 24, 2021 / 3:14 am

    You eye for bright colours and art is a good one! Thank you so much for linking up your blog post for Life This Week. I hope to see you next week, for the last of my Taking Stock posts. Do join in, with a post on or off prompt. Denyse.


    • Natalie November 24, 2021 / 8:32 am

      Thank you, Denyse. I like unique designs and colours. I look forward to reading your next blog post. Have a great week!


  33. Annika Perry November 25, 2021 / 11:02 am

    Natalie, an eclectic selection of books for the month and a couple here I’m intrigued to read! The bench art is fun, creative and thought-provoking. The sun/moon one is tempting but your header photo would be my go-to seat for reading on an autumn afternoon. Stunning!


    • Natalie November 25, 2021 / 11:49 am

      Annika, You picked a beautiful seat for reading. The benches in my header photo face a sheltered harbour which is part of Lake Ontario. The views are amazing. I’d join you for sure. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  34. XingfuMama November 25, 2021 / 3:13 pm

    Those benches are tremendous. So creative. Thanks for joining in.


    • Natalie November 25, 2021 / 3:55 pm

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it. I’m glad you like the benches that I shared.


  35. November 30, 2021 / 1:33 pm

    So very delinquent in my blog reading but taking the morning to visit some favorites. Always enjoy your beautiful photos and the art you share around Toronto. I very much enjoyed The Mother In Law. Thought she was a cold fish for the first part of the book but decided I liked her very much by the end.


    • Natalie November 30, 2021 / 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Leslie, for stopping by. I liked how The MIL story unfolded and gave readers insights to her life events and how they affected her behaviours.


  36. December 31, 2021 / 7:30 am

    Thanks for this list of books Natalie. I’m always looking for new authors. I recently saw “State of Terror” on Amazon, and after seeing it on your list I’ll give it a read. Take care and Happy New Year! ~James


    • Natalie December 31, 2021 / 9:54 am

      Thank you James for stopping by. I hope you enjoy reading State of Terror. I’ve read several of Louise Penny’s books (she’s a Canadian author) but that was the first time I read Hillary Clinton. Happy New Year to you and Terri!

      Liked by 1 person

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