Maybe the semester has passed and you forgot to sell back your text books, or perhaps you just held on to too many books over the years as students at online colleges for psychology (hey, it’s a reading-intensive major!) and now you need to figure out what to do with all of them. You don’t want to throw them away, so what is left to do with them all? Here are 80 awesome ideas that will have you realizing that books aren’t just for education.
Around the House
Use your old books around the house in creative ways with these ideas.
- Step aerobics. Don’t buy expensive equipment to do step aerobics at home. Use old books instead. Tape or cover them in fabric to keep them in place.
- Yoga block. Use a book or two as a yoga block.
- Coasters. Use small books as coasters for drinks. If you have a set, such as from a children’s book series, you can have a matching set of coasters for an eye-catching statement.
- Kneeling pad. Put some padding on an old book and tape it or wrap it in fabric to make a kneeling pad you can use while gardening.
- Table legs. Use a stack of old books to replace a missing table leg rather than throwing both the books and the table away.
- Book safe. Cut out the center of old books to hide valuables, such as extra cash or jewelry, in plain sight.
- Headboard. Choose the books with the best covers and make a headboard with them.
- Door stop. Are your doors never staying open? Use a heavy book to keep it in place.
- Step stool. If you have a hard time reaching the top shelves in your kitchen, tape books together to make a handy step stool.
- Make cheese. Homemade cheese, like the type used in Indian food, is easy to make. Use an old book to press the cheese after it has drained.
- In the freezer. Place pages from old books between foods in the freezer to keep them from freezing together.
- Paper towel substitute. Instead of using paper towels for absorbing grease off bacon or fried foods, use pages of a book. They can also be used in the same way to separate baked goods.
- Trivets. If you feel like you never have anyplace to safely put those hot pots and pans, try using an old book as a trivet.
There’s no need to spend tons of money to decorate your apartment or house when you can reuse old books.
- Lamp. Use three books to make this fun lamp.
- Picture frame. Using a children’s board book, you can alter it slightly to create a custom-sized double picture frame.
- Wall art. Turn eye-catching covers or brightly-colored pages into wall art to decorate your home.
- Create art. Check out these art projects done with old books to spark your creativity for your own project.
- Make a hymnal angel. If you have an old hymnal lying around, make this stunning hymnal angel.
- Tabletop. If you have an old table that could use a facelift, use the pages of a book to decoupage a table top.
- Word plates. Use old plates and text cut out of old books to decorate in an unusual way.
- Wreath. Make an attractive wreath from an old paperback book.
School and Office
From desks to pen holders to art journals, you’ll find great ways to reuse old books in your office or for school.
- Lap desk. Use an old book that is big enough to rest your laptop or papers on for a great, portable lap desk.
- Paper weight. Don’t let important papers get lost. Put them under an old book to keep them in place.
- Wall book shelf. Make a book shelf on your wall from a few old books.
- Book case. If you need more shelves for your books, make a book case out of hardback books like this one.
- Book ends. Lay stacks of books at either end of your upright books to keep them from sliding over.
- Pen holder. Make a pen holder out of the spine and pages of a phone book or other soft back book.
- Art journal. Gesso over the pages and you have an art journal ready to use.
- Magazine reader. Take the pages out of a book and recycle them, then slip a magazine into the hardback left behind to have a handy way to hold your magazines.
- Desk. If you have tons of books but no desk, then you are in luck. Stack your books and put a piece of wood or an old door on top to make a desk of your own design.
Reuse the Pages
While hardcore book lovers may have a hard time tearing out the pages of any book, for those less faint of heart, use the pages of your old books in these creative ways.
- Recycle. Recycle them any place that takes old phone books for recycling. If they are hardback, tear out the pages for recycling, then reuse the covers for some of the great ideas here.
- Kindling. Use them as kindling to get your fireplace or camp fire started.
- Mulch. Shred them to make a great mulch for your garden or landscaping.
- Origami. If you are learning how to do this ancient Japanese art, practice with pages from your unwanted books.
- Packing material. If you need to send something through the mail, use the pages for packing material in your box. If your box is too big for the item you are shipping, you might even be able to wedge it between books to keep it from sliding in the box.
- Moving. If you have a move in your future, use the old pages to wrap breakable items for packing and moving.
- Cat litter. Use shredded pages for cat litter that is easy on the paws and the wallet.
- Wrap gifts. If you have small gifts that need wrapping, use a page or two from an old book.
Make crafts from unwanted books like the ideas here.
- Make an envelope. You will want to have one side blank so you can address the envelope, but you can use pages for making envelopes for personalized notes or cards.
- Flowers. Make paper flowers from the pages to create a sweet gift for the book lover in your life.
- Basket. Instead of magazine pages, use book pages to weave a paper basket.
- Gift tags. Make unique gift tags from comic books or even the regular pages of any book.
- Stationary. Use pages of a book as the recycled paper needed here to create your own stationary.
- Gift bag. Instead of using expensive gift bags, make your own from book pages when it comes time for gift giving.
Teach kids the importance of reusing when you utilize these awesome suggestions.
- Booster seat. If you know a toddler who can’t quite reach the dinner table, use big books as a booster seat. If you need to use more than one, tie them together to ensure they don’t slide off or cover the stack in old fabric.
- Leaf press. Have kids put leaves inside or under old books for pressed leaf art projects. This also works with flowers.
- Paper mache. Let the kids use pages from old books for paper mache projects.
- Confetti. Shred the pages of a book to make confetti for cascarones.
- Easter basket. Use shredded pages for lining Easter baskets instead of using plastic “grass.”
- Paperback apple. Help your kids create a cute paperback apple that would make a great decoration for the house or unique teacher’s gift.
- Clock. You and your child can make a unique clock from an old children’s book for your child’s room.
- Reuse text books. Teachers and homeschool parents can use these great ideas for reusing old text books in resourceful and educational ways.
- Paper clay. Use book pages as the recycled paper in this recipe for making paper clay.
- Supply box. Cut out the middle of an old book and make an awesome box for the kids to keep their art or school supplies in.
Clothing and Accessories
Find out how to reuse books as clothing and accessories that will definitely turn a few heads.
- Paper dress. If you are feeling really creative, read about paper dresses and try your hand at making one. You can put that education you earned from years at online colleges for fashion design to good use! Or at least entertaining use.
- Brooch. Make a one-of-a-kind brooch from pages of a book and paper mache.
- Earrings. Fold a book page into an origami earring that will truly be eye-catching.
- Bracelet. Use your book pages and glue you make yourself to create a bracelet.
- Jewelry box. After you’ve made your jewelry from an old book, why not use another book to make a jewelry box to keep it in.
- Party hat. Make your own party hat from pages in a book. This works best if you have an old coffee table book with larger pages.
- Handbag. Use an old book with a cover you really like to create a fun handbag like this or this.
- iPod case. Make an iPod case from an old book.
It seems hardly anyone wants those phone books, even if they are current, but these keep showing up on doorsteps everywhere. Here are some great ways to put them to good use.
- Clean paint tools. Use the pages from a phone book to clean the paint off your brushes and other painting tools.
- Clean your windows. Tear out the pages and use them along with a mixture of vinegar, dish soap, and water to have a great window and glass cleaner.
- Gift bows. Cut strips of phone book pages to create fun bows to put on gifts.
- Wallet. Using the pages of a phone book and some tape, you can make a wallet in a matter of minutes.
- Flip book. Draw on the corners of a phone book to make a flip book.
- Coffee table. Check out this creative way to make a phone book coffee table.
- Cutting mat. Use a phone book as a cutting mat that will not harm your cutting blade.
- Toilet paper. It may not be as soft as what you buy in the store, but this toilet paper alternative sure won’t cost much.
- No phone books. Register to be taken off the list for phone book distribution and make sure they never make it in to your house or sign a petition to stop widespread distribution altogether.
Getting Rid of Them
Find lots of creative ways to get rid of your old books without just throwing them away.
- Book swap. Have a book swap in your neighborhood to find new ones and get rid of old ones.
- Library. Donate your books to the local library when you are finished with them.
- Sell on the Internet. It’s easy to sell your books on the Internet, and it might even bring in a little extra cash.
- BookCrossing. Give your books away through a fun project like BookCrossing.
- Leave them at a coffee shop. Put a little “free” sign next to a stack of books and leave them at your local coffee shop.
- Hospital. Give your old books to hospitals. They will give them out to patients.
- Trade. Many used book stores will let you trade your old books for different books or for CDs or video games.
- Freecycle. Give them away through Freecycle.
- Gifts. Give them as gifts to the readers in your life–especially if you have old hardbacks that book collectors might appreciate.