Readers have an instinctive aversion to anything that threatens our books, their stories, and the haven they create. So it should go without saying that we view book burning as sacrilege, have been known to dig through a stranger’s trash to retrieve a discarded novel, and generally take exception to anything that contributes to the destruction of our Beloved Ones.

We are willing, however, to suspend our righteous indignation when we come across someone who rescues old books and puts them to new and creative uses. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, we thought we’d share with you three of our favorite examples of literary “reincarnation.”

1. Book Headboard


An ingenious way to take your love of books beyond the nightstand, the book headboard provides a “second life” for books that have fallen out of scope, such as out-of-date nonfiction. We imagine a kids’ headboard made out of illustrated children’s books could be particularly incredible. And just think: If you can’t sleep, you always have something to read! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to make your own book headboard.

Update: One of our editors built her own book headboard recently, using library books bound for the recycling bin. It’s not quite as symmetrical as the one shown here, but it’s definitely eye-catching, drawing comments from friends, houseguests, her landlord’s eight-year-old daughter, even the cable guy!

2. Book Dress

Miss Spelled

dress closeup

This woman built an entire dress out of books—including at least a few dictionaries, from the look of the bodice—to wear to a readers-and-writers festival. The detail work is incredible, especially on the, um…cups? Wonder if this literary frock is available in bleu…

3. The Edinburgh Book Sculptures

In March 2011, staff members at Edinburgh’s Scottish Poetry Library made a remarkable find: a “Poetree” carved out of book pages by an anonymous library-loving sculptor.


Over the course of the next eight months, nine more exquisite sculptures were found around Edinburgh—at the National Museum of Scotland, the Writer’s Museum, the Filmhouse Cinema, the National Library of Scotland, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. (You can peruse a detailed gallery of all ten sculptures here.)

tea cup

To celebrate the first-ever Book Week Scotland, the sculptor (whose identity the book community seems content not knowing) created five more sculptures—each celebrating a classic Scottish book—and scattered them around the country as part of an elaborate scavenger hunt.

Peter Pan

To each of these artists and designers, we say thank you for creating such wonderful reminders of the enduring power of a good book!