If ever there was a book perfect for keeping families creatively busy, it is Julia Rubio’s “Upcycling Books: Decorative Objects.” After books have been read, lent to friends, returned, and put back onto your bookshelves that are at least two or three rows deep, many are then headed for the annual library book sale. However, some of the well used, tattered, damaged and outdated books can be used in clever and artistic ways that are not only fun, but become treasured decorative objects.

“Each and every part of a book can be recycled, including single pages, the entire text block, and spine.” Presenting more than 20 projects, most of the ideas are perfect for craft lovers and do-it-yourself aficionados. They’re also doable with simple techniques, minimum effort, and tools that are the kind you can find around the house. In addition to the step-by-step directions and illustrations provided in this text, there are supplementary templates and recommended videos. Because of COVID-19 more and more families are looking for creative ways to spend time together. Whether you’re home alone, or with children, it’s time to look at your already read books and see them in a new way.

Rubio starts the book with a section on tools and materials. Her “Golden Rule” is to reuse materials. She suggests scouring your home for tools that would serve you well in each project or improvising one tool for another. You will need scissors, a ruler, manual hole punches that create various shapes and come in various sizes. You’ll also need glue and paste, clips, pins, and clamps as well as thread, string, paints and brushes. The necessary tools depend on which of the projects you want to create.

In a very logical approach, the author then turns her attention to various techniques that she refers to in the projects using the simplest techniques regarding folding, braiding, and scalloping paper. Everything from birdhouses made of hardcover books to party favors are included. Imagine turning a book into a vase, a planter, a birdhouse, a fan, pinwheels, flowers, a purse, and so many other decorative items. Children will enjoy making mobiles by transforming pages into cutout birds and/or butterflies and connecting them with string to sticks or thin twigs, which they can hunt for in their yards. Once found, they can sand paper them, clean and paint them. Strips from colored and/or black and white pages from newspapers and magazines are a variation that are also integrated into upcycling objects such as a basket, place mats, and coasters which are coated with a sealant.

Photo frames from a battered old book turn into a prize accessory. Old favorite hardcover book jackets become a carry case for digital devices. A jewelry box and a desk organizer are attractive projects to work on while flower trays and a wall clock are suddenly bookish. Lampshades and storage boxes add to the many fun and challenging projects that will keep the creative juices flowing. All of these items are made from books.

Of all the projects mentioned here, the fairy houses and the diorama will definitely have children eager to work with their parents. The illustrated diorama features a book opened to 90 degrees and furnished with doll house furniture. It is a total joy. There is so much in this book loaded with illustrated instructions that it is difficult to imagine someone not wanting to try some of these projects. Best of all, these are made from books that have offered pleasure in reading and now beat up and old are ready to be upcycled into decorative objects that go beyond reading. Book lovers can flaunt their books in many ways other than being hidden in the back row of a book shelf.

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By Joanne Rochman

Joanne Greco Rochman is an award-winning editor, columnist, and feature story writer. She teaches English and Media Studies courses at Sacred Heart University. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and in national and international magazines. Her book "On Turning 243 Years Old: Poems, Paintings, and Photography" is available at Amazon.com