How To

Repurposing Old Books: Options!

Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Look, we all love books. But sometimes, there are just too many, or they can’t be sold, or they’re in really bad shape. So what do you do? Find ways to reuse them. We’re all about sustainability, y’all.

Don’t tell me books are precious items and this is a sin against literature. Sometimes your personal safety, or that of your home’s structure or your loved ones, comes into play. You gotta get rid of ’em some way, somehow.

So, here we go. Some selfless, shameful, and admirable ways to repurpose old books you can’t do anything else with. Please don’t come after me with pitchforks.

The selfless

Drop off at a Little Free Library. Donate to a library, thrift store, church, charity, school. Leave behind in a hotel, on a train, in a restroom, at the laundromat. Send to prisons, soldiers, orphanages, shelters. Give to homeless people. Hide in a public place for others to find (Lookin’ at you, BookCrossing). Bring to a white elephant party. Host a book swap party.

The shameful

Toilet paper. Giftwrap. Environmentally friendly option to packing peanuts. Fire kindling. Bird cage lining (any animal cage lining, really). Confetti. Rags. Bookmarks. Doorstops. Chew toys for animals/babies. Things to keep in your trunk in case you get stuck in snow and need to make some friction.

My brother made this for me a few Christmases ago and I cried like a big, fat baby.

My brother made this for me a few Christmases ago and I cried like a big, fat baby.

The admirable

Bottle cap magnets. Necklace pendants. Christmas ornaments. Party decorations. Paper flowers. Origami. Nail polish art (You know the thing. It was all the rage on Pinterest a few years ago. But with newspapers. Could it still work with books? Different paper, different ink… Only one way to find out!). Hollow it out and make a secret hidey hole for your precious treasures. Mod-Podge pages onto a lamp or something. You know what, just look at Pinterest; people are crazy with crafts over there.

And if all else fails, just recycle them. It’s okay. Let it go.