Friday, October 16, 2009

the very first day i ever cut up a book

by lauren
avid bibliophile
aged 45 1/4

it was a few years ago, after our local library's annual blow-out used book sale which takes place in *3* multi-roomed buildings of the local national guard armory. (so it's BIIIIIIIIIG, ok? we're talkin' thousands & thousands of books!) (heaven!) i happened to be there at the very end of the last day of the sale.

which is how i saw the boy scouts. about a dozen of 'em, with stout cardboard boxes and handtrucks, swarming the periphery of the ancillary room in which i browsed. vaguely pondering their presence, i either asked or overheard that they were waiting for the sale to end, since their troop had been promised the unsold merchandise.

"how nice," i thought to myself, "these fine lads are going to take the leftover books to hospitals and shelters and nursing homes, and bring the joy of reading to the lonely and less fortunate amongst us!"


they were taking them to a paper pulping facility in north jersey. the covers and bindings would be discarded, and the minced, liquified, bleached & sterilized mass once called *pages* would be sold to companies who use recycled paper in their products. the scouts were getting something like $5 for every 100 lbs of pulp, which they'd earmarked for camping trips and other pricey endeavors.

now, up to this point, i had always resisted the books i craved for *immoral* purposes--by which i mean, the ones i didn't want to read, i just wanted to make cards or...well something ...from their pretty text-filled pages and lovely vintage illustrations. i wouldn't even let myself contemplate fully what i *would* make because that would be DESTROYING BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! i mean, ya might as well be a crazy nazi illiterate with an offensive banner and a well-stoked bonfire, right??!?!?!

until i heard about the pulping.


in a flash it occurred to me that the volumes surrounding me were, in the next few days, going to cease to exist, no matter what i did or didn't do. they'd either become cut-price toilet paper & grocery sacks, OR...just maybe...i would make a few of them into...... well...... art? and somehow that made all the difference to me. i bought a couple of books. i tried to choose ones that had bits i liked, but were kind of messy and falling apart anyway. ones missing covers, or which had pages coming out, or with lots of notes in them. (you know, ones that already looked less like books, and more like a collection of pretty paper!) i took them home. i framed some illustrations. i made a small collage, and then a bigger one, and then a lot more. and yeah, technically, i AM "cuttin' up books"...but i genuinely feel like i've saved some really lovely words and images from true destruction.

speakin' of words and images, here's a page from the other night i cannot resist showing you, but DO NOT tell lhj, ok?! 'cause things like this make him cringe and then BLUSH!!! :)

(miscellaneous postie notes; heidi swapp ghost letters & heart; scrap of making memories glitter paper; provocraft roller stamp; colorbox & staz-on ink; sharpie pen; staples; tombow mono roller)


  1. OH NO!!! Now I'm all in panic mode cause I'm thinking..WHAT DO THEY DO with all the books left over from the hospital sale?!?
    You are VERY allowed to save these books and make something beautiful with them!!
    And SPEAKING of beautiful...those notes are AMAZING :) You're one lucky lady! LOVE the page, and love the little CHEEZBURGER lingo thrown in there :)

  2. oh my. i nearly wept reading this! i am a TOTALLY book fanatic. i may not read a whole lot, but i APPRECIATE books and magazines in all their beauty. PULP?! noooo! i'd have scooped some up, too. good save, lauren!

    and i, too, lullzed at the lolcats speak. :)

  3. PULP??!! OMG, NO!
    I didn't even *think* about what happened to those books (they're having one of those sales at the mall this weekend). I guess I figured that they just kept them & tried again later...
    But, PULP???

    Hell. Where am I going to get the money to rescue all those under appreciated books?
    OR the room to put them in??
    You've opened my eyes to something bigger than I thought!
    (and I'm *sure* dh will thank you for this! ;)

    I guess I'm going to have to get over it, huh?

  4. me and those books with a death sentence on their bindings thank you EVERY day for rescuing them (from those evil self serving scouts... ok.... i'll be nice... those mercenary scouts LOL). You know i always want to go to our town's library book sale but they always schedule it on a day i can't go!!!!!!! i'm going to make it a point to rescue a few books from the (dreaded) pulping!-no matter what! :-)
    i was one of those who couldnt imagine "destroying" books at one time.. but seeing all the lovely things you make (some of my favorites are your christmas cards!!!!!!!!) i'm joining the "lauren's-a-creator-not-a-pulper" club :-)

  5. Love the card!Such a fabulous idea :)

    I can totally relate to your story I still cringe when I pull a page out of an old book and my hubby always says "what are you doing!" its all in the name of art lol

    Your blog is fab :)

    Krissy xx

  6. PULP?! *gulp* Okay, in THAT situation I would do what you did. I still have yet to touch one little page of ANY book for other than reading. Still cannot do it. But if I WERE to be presented with the PULP option, I'd rescue one or two myself. There, I've said it.

  7. Hooray for Lauren the book rescuer! Now those books will still be enjoyed in another art form. I like your love notes; I sometimes do that for dh. I sometimes write notes on his napkin on the rare occasion he takes his lunch to work. Sometimes I write on the napkins I put in the girls' lunches too.

  8. I LOVE you for this!
    (And it makes me sad to think that so many beautiful stories are just murdered for no good reason. Yes, I actually mean that. I'm a fellow bibliophile, you see...)

    Now, I'm gonna go check the local library for sales. Haven't seen one of these since I was a kid, so I really better start looking hard!

    Thanks for the reminder! ♥


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