Ah books. We all have them. We love them. But sometimes we have books that could be put to better use than sitting around gathering dust on a shelf. Maybe it’s a 1973 field guide of Birds of New England or How to use Myspace for Dummies or your old AP Chemistry study guide. Well let them waste no more! We have compiled a list of eight of the best ways to use books other than reading them.
1. Fix that three-legged table in your office.
Do you have a second-hand “vintage” coffee table in your office that keeps collapsing because it only has three legs? Books can help with that! Simply hold the table up with one hand, while awkwardly reaching around yourself to pick from the dragon-like treasure trove of random computer manuals from the early 2000s and Associated Press style guides from when we were still allowed to spell out “percent.” Stack the books up from largest to shortest (this is an important step unless you want your entire project to fall over several times and have to refilm your instructional video several times to maintain the illusion that you actually know what you are doing). This will create a stable and aesthetic table leg to match the fun, quirky office vibe you’re going for.
2. Write erasure poetry
Erasure poetry, or “found” poetry is created by physically erasing words in an already-written work to create something new and highly incoherent. Take a thick black marker, which will really make you feel destructive, and begin randomly crossing out words from a random page in the book. Keep going until you have something or some form or other. Give a dramatic reading of the nonsense you have created and force all your friends to listen and pretend it’s profound because they don’t know what it means and neither do you.
3. Press flowers
Ah this timeless romanticized classic. Pick a flower from the ground, your dying houseplant, your friend’s dying houseplant that your friend won’t admit is in crisis. Then, place it flat along one of the pages of a thick tome. Slam the book closed with the energy of a British romantic heroine.
4. Build a fort
All you need for this is the zeal of a 4-year-old and a lot of material. The most effective way to measure for your fort is to have your friend lie on the ground in an army crawl position as you build what amounts to a book coffin around her. It’s a perfectly apropos space to hide away and read. For liability reasons I must remind you, dear reader, that if you finish your book and are at a loss for new material it is not recommended that you endanger the structural integrity of the fort by taking a book from the walls or ceiling.
5. Use it for discreet storage
Perhaps there are some things you need to keep in easy reach but out of obvious sight. For this all you need is a very sharp knife and a book you don’t cherish too dearly. Take the knife which, hopefully unlike ours, has a blade which is firmly attached and will not get stuck in the book, and cut around the edges of the pages to create a rectangular hole where the text once was. Make sure to leave some pages in the front and back of the book to maintain the illusion. Once you have created your vault, place your desired items inside. Store the book on a shelf or next to your bed. No one will suspect a thing.
6. Make arts and crafts
So you just destroyed a book in No. 5 and feel incredibly guilty about letting it go to waste. Well now you can use the pages for arts and crafts! Paper airplanes, snowflakes, cootie catchers, anything your heard can imagine. I won’t attempt to provide more details on this concept since I am pretty trash at arts and crafts myself and my snowflakes all looked more like squares with gaping holes in them than a dreamy vision of a literary winter wonderland.
7. Improve your posture
Ace the princess test with this easy step. All you need it a decently dense book and a head. Place the book on your head and walk around the room channeling the royal family circa 1950. If you attempt to curtsey with the book on your head, do this very slowly since, as I have learned, the book will slide.
8. Use them as projectiles
They’ll never see it coming. Wait for your target to walk around a corner, or be waiting behind a door. Anyway, angles are good here. Have your weapon poised and ready to throw. There are several techniques for book throwing. The classic is the ninja star spin. Hold the book with the spine facing out and yeet that thing at their torso. There is also the popular frisbee method where you toss the book, spine first again, at your target. If you can get it to spin a few times you get bonus points for style. The final, most unconventional method, is the pie face. Hold the book with the cover against the palm of your hand. Chuck it straight at the target so they get hit head-on by the thickest part of the book. All are viable options.
We hope this list has inspired you to do something exciting with all the books piling up around your house which you keep meaning to read but know you never will. If you have any other ideas comment them below!
Anna Zarra Aldrich is the Long River Review editor-in-chief and a translations and arts panel reader.