Recycling Text

28 Dec

I came across this interesting article yesterday. Secret Lives of Readers

It deals mainly with the habits of readers. The what, how and where of readers from the past. It also looks into what was done with the printed word afterwards. Newspapers, magazines and paperbacks in the main.

It got me thinking.

As I’ve said before, I don’t read much fiction. I suppose those I would class as disposable or recyclable. The books I have, I like to delve into every so often, use as reference if you like. I would be loath to part with any of those, even though my collection is growing and I’m running out of places to put them.

What have we used these disposable books for in the past, or now? These days, sometimes beautiful books are discarded  because people can use E readers or read online. We can’t pass on a digital book to someone else when it’s finished. We can’t find them cheap in charity shops to help good causes. Shops dealing in second-hand books are already closing down due to computerised reading.

Book shop

Why second-hand bookshops are just my type

How to do things with books in Victorian Britain – review

Uses for reading matter:

Probably people of a certain age will remember the outside toilet at the bottom of the yard. Newspapers cut into squares with string threaded through the corner and hung on a nail. Well at least up here in the north of England we did that!

Health and Safety bods would have a field day with the way we used to get the coal fire going. Apart from paper being scrunched up in the grate, under the kindling and coal, many of us would use a broadsheet page against a large shovel to “draw the fire”.

How often have old, thin paperbacks been used as props to level furniture on an uneven floor?

Fish and chips – and sometimes food from other shops had newspaper as an outer wrapping. There was something about chips in newspaper that added to the experience somehow! That’s not allowed now.

Big heavy books were used as door stops or for pressing flowers and leaves.

Nowadays they still have lots of uses.

I’ve been known to use a large book to stand on to reach a shelf or suchlike, being all of five feet tall.

I’ve used newspapers in the freezer to fill empty spaces.

The many times I’ve moved house I have used them for wrapping ornaments and glassware.

They can be used for cleaning paint brushes.

For the bottom of the bird-cage or shredded as pet bedding.

Some people still use them for cleaning windows.

When I was at primary school we made objects out of  papier-mache, or tore up pieces of paper to stick on jam jars to make our own personal little vases.

They were, and are (books, magazines and  newspapers) – used for decoupage or origami.

Gardeners sometimes use them as mulch.

A brilliant way of recycling old books has been mentioned on this blog before. Book Art.

Like that of Brian Dettmer.  He does some brilliant things with hardback books. Do check out the link.

Are we ever going to lose the printed word entirely? I can’t see it. Maybe newspapers and magazines could one day be all digital, but books – I surely hope not.

11 Responses to “Recycling Text”

  1. organiclassie December 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    I mind my Nan’s old papers and outside toilet! (She’s passed over now but would be in her late 90’s if still here). Where I live, a lot of the older generation didn’t bother updating to the modern way of living. Well, some of the country / island folks didn’t, the mainland people pretty much just went with it. I know of a few folks still to this day that have a dry neslon and a stove! Not many, but there are a few :)

    I know loads of people who still use paper for their stoves. I still use them for cleaning windows, paper mache etc., and my family and I decided to wrap our secret santas in paper this Christmas!

    I get your point on everything going digital, seeing as you can order it all now on your e-reader. I hope print never goes out of fashion though, it just wouldn’t be the same would it?:)

    • Carol December 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      Hi OL, what is a dry neslon? I have an idea but can’t find it via Google!

  2. manningtreearchive December 29, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    I have more than 5,000 books in my house and it keeps increasing. I prefer to hold a book in my hand and read it.

  3. Gandalfe December 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    When I moved from a big house to a small, retirement-worthy house, I sold or gave away over 3000 books. It was hard to do, but most I hadn’t touched in years. I held on to this hope that I would go back to them when I retire, but I may never retire. I did keep my favs though.

  4. Carol December 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    My goodness. I know what you mean about it being hard to do. Even getting rid of the piles of kids books was difficult for me. But keeping them would have been silly, so they went to the charity shop.

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