Where do old books go to die?

While sorting through the piles of books that fan out from my armchair, I discovered my long neglected copy of Dickens’ David Copperfield. Controversially, the bookmark position revealed that I’d not only failed to finish it like I’ve falsely claimed on the Dickens Challenge Progress Page, but I haven’t even made it halfway. I can’t think how it happened. I must have put it on ice and forgotten about it, getting infuriated with Little Dorrit instead.

I’ve since picked up where I left off and am enjoying it immensely, but my old Penguin edition was in such a sorry state that I fear it’s beyond salvage. The section I’d reached has departed from the spine in a chunk, and each page I turned would detach from its neighbours, to join the bundle of loose leaves threatening to flutter out. If you like to read in the bath as I do, this is an extremely anxiety-inducing state of affairs.

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Finding myself in Haverfordwest, with twenty minutes to spare before my daughter’s gymnastics class, I popped into the Oxfam bookshop, where I picked up a replacement copy of David Copperfield for 99p, so thankfully, reading in the bath can continue. Now in possession of an unusable book, I realised that I’ve never had to deal with an old book that has effectively lived its last. What does one do with them? I can’t bring myself to throw it out with the recycling but I really can’t justify the shelf space.

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I’ve heard that the pulp of old Mills & Boon books being used to build roads, and while there are plenty of potholes round here that need filling, I’m not sure my skill set stretches to road maintenance. So I’m wondering about getting creative with scissors and glue rather than tarmac. I don’t usually like things that require books being dismantled, but as this one has breathed it’s last, I’d rather turn its pages into something lovely than just dump it after it has brought joy to possibly numerous readers.

I like this simple lantern garland

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and these little gift bags and envelopes are useful and very cute.

As David Copperfield clocks in at over 950 pages, I’m tempted to create this, which would elicit envious glances from other parents at the school gate, wet Welsh weather permitting!

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