Monday, August 9, 2010

Ideas for Recycling Books

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. - Henry Ward Beecher

If I had my way and lived in the equivalent of…oh, say the Istana Nurul Iman palace (the over 2 million square foot residence of the Sultan of Brunei), I’d probably never get rid of a single book—ever. I’d even allow books I didn’t particularly care for to gather dust on my endless bookshelves. However, I live in a small condo so my limited book space must undergo frequent uncluttering sessions. I generally only keep reference books and signed copies. As painful as it is for me to do, all others are passed along to someone I think would enjoy them or donated.

When my husband sent me this link to Gizmodo, I realized that some talented people have come up with more creative ways of recycling surplus books. The Scanner (seen below), constructed by Slovakian artist Matej Krén, is constructed out of thousands of books. The entry is large enough to accommodate the tallest of adults quite easily. There are mirrors inside the tunnel that create an illusion of an infinite number of books. It's on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna.

To see more photos of this amazing work of art or to view the video, click here.

Viewing this piece made me wonder what other works of art might be made from books. I didn’t have to look far to find my answer. Offbeat Earth offers a photo display of wonderful works of “book art.” I’ve only included a few of my favorites (which were very hard to limit to a few) so be sure to check out the site for other brilliant pieces.

Still haven’t had enough, check out:

Incredible and original Models Made Out of Books at

Works of Art Made From Books at Casa Sugar

The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books at Dark Roasted Blend

And, if you would like to buy book art, check out the gallery at This Into That

What do you do with your books once you read them? Have you found any creative ways to recycle books?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next Monday.

Tags: The Scanner, Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, Matej Krén , recycled books, Henry Ward Beecher, book art,


Cruella Collett said...

Wow - I love these! I agree with you - in a perfect world I would never get rid of a single book. Actually, I rarely do even if I can't really fit them into my apartment. Whenever they outcrowd me I put some of them into boxes and move it into storage... I have a library in storage!

Once I get a bigger place I would love to test out a few of these clever book constructions, though!

Mason Canyon said...

I can't seem to get rid of books. I can't help myself, I collect them. I remember when I was younger my mother would use old Reader's Digest and TV Guides to make different things out of.

Thoughts in Progress

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Now that is recycling at its best.

I can't get rid of a book. I try, but like them around me.

Jenny said...

What beautiful, creative works of art!

I also have limited space, so I donate books to fund-raiser book sales. But then I go to those sales and buy more books...

I'm so glad there are still lots of people who love actual books and not just the electronic equivalent.

Darcia Helle said...

Such cool ideas! I was just looking through that Offbeat Earth site and saw the one with the books that make a bookshelf - the book titles are Off Balance, Out Of Control, and Out Of Order. That sums up my life!

Some of the stuff is amazing art but it also makes me cringe a little because it's destroying the words within the book. I couldn't do it!

Unknown said...

Wow, that is so cool! I love how they made art out of all books, it's lovely.


Carol Kilgore said...

I don't get rid of nearly as many books as I should, but I do bag them for the library.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Those are awesome, Jane! Not sure about the lamp, though. All I can see is something that would be a pain to dust!

Laura S. said...

I love book art! Thanks for sharing these links!

I can't get rid of my books! I'm not one who has trouble getting rid of stuff, either. I'm ultra-organized and like clearing out clutter and things I don't have any use for anymore. Books are the only things I can't seem to let go of, though! I clear away other stuff to make more room for more books, lol!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Cruella, thanks for stopping by. If you turn those books in storage into works of art, remember to send me photos.

Mason it sounds as though your mother was ahead of her time. My sister and I would use those types of magazines to cut out pictures for other school projects.

I agree, Journaling Woman. There’s something magical about being surrounded by books.

It’s a vicious circle, isn’t it, Jenny. I seem to replace each book I get rid of with at least two new ones. Hopefully our love of books will keep ebooks from entirely taking over. What supplies will artist like this use if real books dry up?

Darcia, I never thought to read the book titles. They’re great. Thanks for sharing them with me. Together they sound like the perfect title for a self-help book.

Thanks, Clarissa. I think book art is pretty impressive, too.

Carol, the library is always a good place to donate books. It works best, though, if you can refrain from buying them back during a book sale:)

Diane, I was thinking more of a fire hazard with the lamp, but I think you’re right – dusting could be a real pain.

You’re welcome, Laura. I think you have the right idea of getting rid of stuff to make room for more books!

Hart Johnson said...

These are fabulous. I find the bookshelf made of books particularly inspired. And I thought I was doing good to just leave them on the table at work with a 'free sign' (then again, I pick up a lot of books that way, so I feel obliged)--And I would also keep ALL of them if I had the space... (or a more congenial spouse)

DazyDayWriter said...

I love books, so hard to part with them, but if I must recycle I simply try to give them away to a used bookstore, friends, library groups hosting fundraisers. Worked in a college library during my undergrad years at Stephens College; the more books the better! The ideas shared, Jane, are very creative -- thank you!

Arlee Bird said...

I rarely get rid of any of my books. The book art work looks nice and is a unique concept, but it would be kind of sad for an author to have their book no longer read and turned into an artwork.

Tossing It Out

Karen Walker said...

These are wonderful, Jane. You continue to amaze me at what you find on the internet to share with us. I find it so very hard to part with my books, but I'm out of book shelf space at the moment, so a purge is looming soon.

Anonymous said...

I've seen desks made out of books.

I give some of the books away, some go to book stores that give you credit towards other books, and some have been put in yards sales. When my son was in elementary school, I would sometimes donate books to the teachers for their classrooms.

Patricia Stoltey said...

The most creative way I came up with was to give away two whole boxes of books (including signed copies) on my blog. Over the years, I've given away or sold out my collections three times, and still the books pile up. Although the works of art are interesting and attractive, I'd hate to take mine out of circulation unless they were falling apart.


Helen Ginger said...

Great pictures. I love the one that's opened to create a light fixture.

I keep putting them on the shelves until the shelves are totally full, then I give some away. I do keep all my autographed books and some others that are favorites.


The Old Silly said...

Wonderful and creative ideas! Cool idea for a post, too, Jane.

Hey Jane, I'm taking my new novel, "Beware the Devil's Hug", on virtual blog book tour in mid-October. Could I interest you in hosting a stop? If so please contact me at, ok? I still have one Monday open, if that would make it easier for you. Just let me know...

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

Wow! Beautiful works of art! I wish I had a photo to share, but last year our indie bookstore owner built a huge Xmas Tree made out of books! Gorgeous.

Thanks for giving us ideas!

Sylvia Dickey Smith

A War of Her Own

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Really. And all this time I was giving my used books to the library.

Stephen Tremp

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world