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Think a book is a terrible present? Have a book you just hate? There are plenty of great things you can do with books you don’t like!
It’s estimated that some 320 million books are thrown away each year – that’s a LOT of books being thrown out. Sadly, even books you donate still end up in the dumpster. Rather than throwing them away, why not upcycle or repurpose them?
As someone who loves books, I have found they can be useful for all kinds of things, not just for reading! Here’s my big long list of ideas of things you can do with an old book.
1. Use it as a Door Stopper: Need to keep the door open for just a minute? Stick a book in it.
2. Rip out the pages and stick them in a frame for instant art – great for kid’s books + and illustrated books!
3. Use it as a hot pad/trivet – Make sure the book you use has a leather or cloth cover – books with plastic-coated covers might melt!
4. Use the book as a disposable coaster – A couple of sheets from an old book under your coffee mug or glass will help protect the table!
5. Start a fire – books generally will only smolder when you try to burn them whole. For best results, tear out the pages and roll them into small sticks
6. Play the floor is lava game and use the book as a stepping stone. (Be careful: some books can be slippery on some surfaces!)
7. Rip out the pages & make paper hats…or paper planes, maybe even paper cats, or play paper football games
8. Cell phone holder: I can’t imagine why anybody would ever buy a cell phone holder when a book works just as good for free
9. Use as a Stepstool: Need to be 1-2 inches taller? Just stand on this book.
10. Leave the book on a park bench and trust the universe to get it to the right person.
11. Turn it into a songbook: Any book can become a songbook. Turn to a random page and instead of reading out loud, start singing out loud instead
12. Seek & Find Game: Can you find this list of 50 common words in the book?
13. Toss a sock over the book game: Take turns tossing a sock over a book. It’s harder than it sounds. Keep moving farther away from the book to make it more challenging.
14. Use Books for Domino Toppling: Books can be arranged just like Dominoes! The more bad books you have, the better!
15. Cheap Substitute for Canvas Boards: You can rip off the covers to make your own canvas board to paint on.
16. Do books sink or float? Put it in a pan of water to find out. Science!
17. Blackout Poetry – Take a marker and cross out words until you write a poem.
18. Christmas Ornaments – Small little books just need a piece of yarn or twine wrapped around the center to become Christmas tree ornaments!
19. Press Flowers: Heavy books are perfect to use for flower pressing, and since you don’t like the book you won’t have to worry about the plant ruining it.
20. Keep for Self Defense: Books are heavy, they could be useful for self-defense.
21. Use Books as Bases for an impromptu baseball or wiffle ball game.
22. Make a Dartboard: Draw a bullseye on the cover, hang it up & throw darts at it
23. Glue on googly eyes and draw a smile. You now have a pet book. What will you name it?
24. Bury the book in an archival-safe time capsule for someone to discover 1000 years later.
25. Mail the book to someone via media mail. Media mail is cheap.
26. Use pages to line a hamster cage or litterbox
27. Use the book as a trash compactor by throwing it on top of a mostly full trash can. (All right, so that one is not much better than just throwing the book away outright…but at least it served one last useful purpose before heading to the landfill!)
28. Wear it as a hat: I recommend this with paperback books, hardback books are too heavy.
29. Hide it in your house so that after you move the new owners will discover it.
30. Use books as bowling pins: Set them up in a 10 pin formation and roll a ball towards them.
31. Play Basketbook! Throw the book up in the air through a basketball hoop – just make sure no one is in the way! The nice thing about basketbook is there is no worry about the books rolling away.
32. Cut out random words or phrases and randomly give them to people.
33. Use it as a shield while pretending to slay dragons
34. Play Book Bingo – Find the letter on that page number – I-44
35. Emergency Fire Starter – keep a book in your car with matches in case you ever need a flare or fire for warmth. Again, books will smolder if you set them on fire directly – make sure you burn each page individually!
36. Bang on it like a drum.
37. Use it as a privacy shield if you ever need to do something discreetly in public
38. Send it away to get bronzed or spray paint it gold
39. Spin the book in circles on the floor.
40. Play book hockey: Like basketbook, but with a hockey stick and net.
41. Use the book for target practice: Similar to a dart board, but you could use arrows!
42. Place it under the leg of a pesky wobbly table: No one likes a wobbly table.
43. Use it as a Bug Smacker: Avast ye pesky insect!
44. Commit a passage of the book to memory and quote it verbatim anytime you should see the person who gave it to you.
45. Turn a Stack of Books Into a Plant Stand
46. Take Note: Measure the length, width, and depth of the book. Weigh it. Make a note of these measurements.
47. Sell the book to somebody. If you just measured and weighed it, might as well list it online to sell!
48. Paint over it or give to someone who likes to alter books. (You can mail me books!)
49. Use it as a back scratcher
50. Turn it into a Cat bed or Cat House!
51. Turn it into a bird feeder
52. Cover it in concrete patch for outdoor decoration
53. Drill holes into it to make your very own golf tee puzzle game
54. Make a lamp – all you need is a drill and a lamp kit!
55. Make cuff links
56. Make hair accessories.
57. Tape book pages around cup/bottle – great for cold drinks + hot cups of coffee!
58. Cut the pages into fun shapes – could use those for making banners, decorations, scrapbooks, whatever.
59. Use as gift wrap
60. Practice your penmanship – why waste good blank paper?
61. Play Tic-Tac-Toe
62. Read the book to a chicken, cat or dog
63. Take selfies of you & this book in different poses/places every day for a month. Document it on your blog or Instagram.
64. Barbecue: See start a fire.
65. Make a chair cushion – book pages are great for making stadium seating cushions!
66. Use pages as curtains – simply tape or string them together and hang from a curtain rod! You could also turn the pages into paper beads to make your own hippie-style bead curtain.
67. Give the book to someone else with this list of things to do with a book.
68. Leave it outside as a holiday decoration & then turn it into compost
69. Use it as an unlikely place to hide stuff from people. Just be careful it’s not anything too valuable – they might toss the book without looking at the contents inside!
70. Use it to cold iron & press your clothes.
71. Knock on the book and say, “Knock knock, who’s there?” See, now you’ve transformed it into a knock-knock joke book.
72. Gratitude Journal – use the book as a reminder to think about all the things you actually are grateful for
73. Halloween Costume: Tie or tape book to t-shirt. You are now a book!
74. Just Add Crayons: Now you have a coloring book!
75. Barter for food – I will trade you this book for a hamburger.
75. Fold into paper cups for drinking water
76. Make seed starter pots from the pages.
77. Place near an aquarium so your frog/fish can have something to read. Be sure to periodically turn the page so they can find out what happens next.
78. Put wheels on the bottom and add a handle. Now you have a book wagon!
79. Glue 5 books together to make a box – such a clever decoration!
80. Make Confetti! All you need is a micro-cut paper shredder!
81. Build a Bookshelf: I actually did this in my kitchen pantry.
82. Use as Weights to get that beach body you’ve been wanting. Hey, some books are really heavy! Who says library nerds can’t be buff? For as much as I’m constantly moving + lifting + tearing apart heavy books, trust me – you wouldn’t want to mess with me in a dark alley!
83. Make a clock! There’s always time for more books!
I am sure I could push myself to come up with other things to have a list of 100 here, but I feel like this list already will probably keep you really, really busy for a very long time!
Have any other ideas for great things to do with an old book? Share it in the comments below!