Ask Surly Amy: What to Do With Books You Don’t Like Anymore
Dear Surly Amy,
I have a question. Before I became a skeptic, I purchased A LOT of pseudoscientific self help/metaphysical books (a la Chopra, Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, etc.) and now I have them sitting on my bookshelf (a constant reminder of my shameful past!). I don’t know what to do with them now. I feel bad donating them because I do not want to contribute to filling someone else’s head with nonsense, but I definitely do not want them anymore.
Do you have a solution for my quandary?
I LOVE this question!
I love it because there are so many great things you can do with old books. And with the digital book era in full swing, physical books are often out-dated space hogs. So why not upcycle the ones you don’t need!
I also love this question because this is exactly the kind of project that the writers at Mad Art Lab do all the time. So I asked a few contributors what they would do with a book that doesn’t need to be read again. And here is the responses I got. Some of these ideas could help you with last minute holiday gifts or decorations too. Enjoy!
From Mad Art Lab’s resident photographer, GiGi:
This was my first foray into book art and I chose to make an iPad holder. I pretty much just winged it, but I think it turned out okay. I have some ideas for improvements on my original design. I’ve attached a picture of the steps I took.
1. I picked out a crappy book and since it was holiday themed, it also works as a “holiday project”. I know this book isn’t a magical-mystical type book like Chopra, but it was one I will never use. I also have two copies of it because I inherited them from someone who, for some reason, had two.
2. I ripped all of the pages out of the book, even the spiny part.
3. I then measured and sewed a little pouch to put inside of the book where the pages used to be.
4. I hot glued the pouch into the book.
5. Side view of the holder (not really a step, just a photo).
6. It’s measurements are perfect for an iPad, I just don’t happen to own one so I can’t show you how it fits, but you can toss a wallet and iPod Touch in there, too. I think my next one I make will have a clasp and handles; I was just working with the tools that were available to me at the time, otherwise I might have been able to attach some. I might try a purse next time :)
And because Gigi is so awesome, she didn’t stop there. Check out this kick-ass book shelf! This is a project I am going to try for sure!
Again from Gigi:
I just finished my second book project. It is a “Book-Shelf”. A shelf literally made of books. I took two books I didn’t care much about anymore, two Dr. Laura books (I know), and used them to create this cute shelf. The wonderful thing is: you can paint the books (which I did not do) to cover the titles, then no one will be the wiser. So if someone has some crap books that spew mumbo jumbo then, ::BOOM:: make a shelf and paint over them.
Smashley, Mad Art Lab’s resident musician and writer of our Lab Tracks, contributed this piece of book art. I present it here without commentary, as none is really needed.
Elyse promised me she was going to do this:
I’m just ripping out pages and throwing them at my neighbors and yelling “LEARN TO FUCKING READ”
But I am still waiting on the video.
Instead she sent this and said:
It was actually going to be a wine tote. Then I was like fuck it, this is hard, I’ll just make it a Christmas tree. But now it’s a crown.
Treelobster–Steve, one of our masters of the Mad-Quickies sent in a few cool links from instructables that have upcycled book projects. There is a speaker and a clock that are pretty cool. You can find both those links and some others by clicking here.
For my project, I found a really cool tutorial from a website called, Under the Table and Dreaming. On that site, artist Stephanie Lynn shows you how to make paper flowers out of old books. Here are some of mine:
I started a wreath.
And I SWEAR I was going to complete a whole big beautiful bouquet and frost the tips with red spray paint but this happened:
This was fun! Hope we inspired you to do something other than throw or give those books away. Once again the tutorial for the paper flowers can be found here and be sure to visit Mad Art Lab when you can.
Happy holidays everyone!
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.
Surly Amy art by Jill. Photos by Amy except where specified. We assume one of Elyse’s genius children took the photo of her.