Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Books: A Second Life?

So do you like this headboard, or does it plunge your psyche into torment?
I haven't decided yet.
I found it the other day, over at my pal Linda Crispell's marvelous blog, and at first I was a fool in love, ready to kick to the curb our hundred year old French bed (which I bought in our Clermont life for $35-the tightwad in me is still high fiving myself.) I even scoured the internet and discovered how to make that headboard myself, but then my morning shot of caffeine wore off, and reality set in. Here's what reality said:
You're an author. You want to do that to books? Pull out their guts, paint them like harlots, and then slap them on a piece of MDF board from Home Depot?
It seemed wrong to me.

Then my amazing agent, Nathan Bransford, strolled into my brain, adding his logical, reasonable arguments to my internal debate. Nathan's been spreading Kindle love all over the internet for several months now, but I haven't surrendered to the dark e-reader side as yet. Have you?

I know it's ridiculous and that books don't have feelings, but I still feel sad for all the books out there, bookshelves full, like islands of misfit toys.
But then something wonderful happened. Last night, as I was hiding in the office, hoping a dishwashing fairy might flitter down to my kitchen and clean up after dinner, I started a google search that renewed my hope. I thought I might share it with you. Please don't hate me, book lovers.
Be assured that I'm still in no hurry to trade my musty old books for a plastic piece of technology, (sorry Nathan.) I just love to see upcycling in action.
If you're curious about the things you see, a click on the photo will transport you back to its mother site.

First, a vase by artist Laura Cahill.

I found it on
She does lamps and side tables too.

Yes, that lamppost is made of book pages. (!)

I wonder what Nathan would think of this.

Photo by
One of your favorite books, right Nathan? Does it tug at your heartstrings a little bit?

I love this book-shelf. Though I wouldn't put anything on it.

Photo by

This is also cool.

Photo by

How about book jewelry?

Jamie Keiles makes them over at etsy. I found them at

If a bracelet/wrist cuff isn't your style, how about a purse?

Photo by
I bet they'd make man bags too, if you asked nicely.

I'd love to wear this piece of jewelry around my neck.

It's by the artist Janna Syvanoja, featured at

Enough daydreaming. It's time to get back to writing a new book of my own.
If only I had this desk!

Desk by Richard Hutton
Have a great Wednesday, book lovers out there!
Love, Becky


Angela K. Nickerson said...

Oh, I get sad for old books that languish, too. But those are ingenious ways to reuse them. At least they won't end up shredded -- or, gasp -- as remainders! :)

Nathan Bransford said...

I'm not giving up my old books anytime soon, they're too amazing.

Nor am I cutting holes in a perfectly good edition of my favorite book! Gahhh!!

LW said...

This idea of e-readers
scares me to death.
How do you read a child his bedtime story from an e-book?
There is something about the feel of the paper as you turn each page.

I do love all the recycled book crafts…
However, I find it hard to destroy a book.


prashant said...

those are ingenious ways to reuse them. At least they won't end up shredded

Work from home India

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Remainders, Angela? Heaven forbid!

Nathan, I figured you might choke at the sight of the photo of Moby Dick.
And I should say that I'm certainly not opposed to ebooks. French by Heart is an ebook too. So I LOVE ebooks. Oh how I love them.

Hey Louise. I do so enjoy my paper books. But I can see the attraction of getting the book you want NOW. Right in front of you. It's a great way to get the stories out there, but I agree. I don't see myself wanting one. But I didn't want internet capability on my phone either, and now I wish I had that.

lotusgirl said...

I've been looking at getting a kindle. I'm finally breaking down. Books are starting to take over my house. I've been trying to see what the deal is with the nook from B & N, but until they get some samples in I am not interested. I finally got to handle a kindle last week and it's pretty slick. We'll see.

Natalie said...

Any book in good enough condition to be re-purposed is in too good condition to be re-purposed. On the other hand, some of those creations are very interesting.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Cool Post... and love the subject matter... but...

I am a salvager from way back and I just could never bring myself to adulterating a book...

...about the most I could ever do to change the use of a book for a short while would be to sit my lamp on a few to get a better light on the book I'm reading!!!

Jane said...

Love this post - I used to feel for books but after some time in a used book store (JWD in Halifax, NS) I realized that some books need another life - the World Book Encyclopedia from 1980, the Reader's Digest books, the psychology textbooks which were used a year and then changed...

I have thought of drilling a hole through a stack of books to make a table lamp - but haven't made the leap yet.

Anonymous said...

I just received the first copy of my book.

The thrill wouldn't be quite the same if it were a download.

But your blog has shown me that practically anything can be made into useful art!

Jenn Hubbard

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Lois, I know what you mean about books taking over the house! You'll have to let me know how you like your Kindle if you go for it. I think part my my distrust/disinterest in it is that I've never seen one before. None of my friends around here have them either. Maybe if I got to know one, I might like him. I mean it.

Natalie, I agree. I find those book art things so interesting. Especially the tall lamp. And the headboard!

Gwen, all the lamps in my house sit on a throne of books. It's a pretty look, and it gives me more space on the bookshelves!

Jane, I've always wanted to do that! I've seen it in magazines and one of these days I'm going to buy the attachment for my drill.

What an exciting day! I will toast to you this evening. I hope you savor every moment!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

By "attachment for my drill" I mean a larger bit.
Obviously I'm not a professional handywoman.

Renee said...

These were all very cool.

Love Renee xoxo

Annie Pazoo said...

I haven't yet had the nerve to do any of these to a book. In our house we are buried in books; old clothes get thrown out but the books never go. That said, I love almost all of those artists' pieces. And I love that headboard (a fitting homage perhaps, for reading in bed? Huh? Meh.)

anna said...

Wow, so cool. I love the book bookshelf and the table! The lamps are pretty neat too :).

adrienne said...

Cute idea for an animation. And I love the Little Women purse!

I don't think I could cut up a book, though - I always run for the tape at the first sign of a tear...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Yeah, that makes me cringe. I'm trying to appreciate it, but the bibliophile in me cannot.

Kelly H-Y said...

Love it! You have a wonderful way with pictures and words! I'm still reading the 'old-fashioned' way ... though, I must admit, I'm intrigued by the Barnes and Noble Nook ... it actually looks like it would be ... readable!

May Vanderbilt said...

I love books so much but I must confess I've converted over to reading on my iPhone.

You should try it! It's so incredible for people who are always dashing around.

Sandy said...

I am up before dawn again. I love to seek out new blogs in the quite of the morning before all the hubbub starts. Today I found your wonderful blog. Amazing what people can do with books! My favorite is the lamp. It is breathtaking.

ParisBreakfasts said...

Me, I LOVE it, but then I'm a book-wrecker from the get-go.
Just hand me the yellow marker please.
Love that video too!

Linda Crispell said...

I love the desk!!!!!! I see it as a new way of celebrating an old neglected book.
They can't all be too precious, think of the bargain basement "Going Rogue" books we will soon be seeing.

Anachronistica said...

Super cool stuff! But I could not help but feel it would be disgraceful to those who put so much effort into creating the books. Even if they're classics and thus dead. It'd be an altar (in the figurative sense) of books, perhaps, but if one were to make an altar to honor wood, would one create it out of wood? Perhaps I'd make an altar out of wood to books, but never out of books to books.

Or maybe it inherently is in the nature of books that they can be reused in that way? Perhaps? Because they are purely designed to be purposeful in some way, by their very nature? Or do they have more than just purpose to have purpose?