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.
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.