Book Art: Cool or Offensive?

© The Day Dreamer and Candy Eater
© The Day Dreamer and Candy Eater

Dreaming Novel Things is a feature in which I discuss book related subjects, but in a creative way. I’ll use interviews, narratives and lists to talk about book trends, book opinions and bookish matters. If you have any book related subjects you’d like to see me discuss just leave me a comment below!

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Two Little Words

‘Book’ and ‘art’; two wonderful words that our society praises. Both inspire thought and creativity and both are considered vital to the world around us. Both can shed light on truth and both can teach the children of today from making yesterday’s mistakes. But put the two together to create ‘book art’ and the general result is outrage.

Wikipedia defines ‘book art’ as “works of art realized in the form of a book”. I define it as ripping a book apart to make something pretty. There’s many different forms of book art; some are mild and some are extreme. Each form causes the average bookworm’s soul to cry as they watch their beloved items ripped, torn and shredded. I’ll admit that I used to be against ‘book art’ in all shapes and forms.

book art
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“Ummm, Excuse Me?”

I had been traumatized at a young age when I went to a sleep over at a friend’s house. We had been instructed to bring a book for a ‘fun’ project and me being unable to even comprehend ‘book art’ was not in the slightest suspicious. I brought my favorite Daughter of the Moon book, The Talisman, and was all giggles as all us girls pulled out our books. The mom in charge of the sleep over (who insisted to be called Shelly, but at that age I was scared of uttering the name of adults and always referred to them as “ummm, excuse me?”) gave us each a pair of scissors, which I found odd, and then proceeded to tell us to start cutting out the pages in our book. I was sure I misheard the woman but then everyone around me started cutting out their pages, so my hand shot in the air. “Ummm, excuse me? You didn’t mean cut out the pages in our book, did you?” Shelly informed me that yes, that’s exactly what she meant. I couldn’t do it though and for that the other girls made fun of me and I came to associate ‘book art’ people with evil little girls (and women named Shelly).

Then I started to follow a lovely blogger by the name of Asti, who now resides at Oh, the Books. She does a feature in which she spotlights artists who create ‘book art’. My heart cringed at the idea but I read her posts and found many beautiful pieces. She got me so curious that I went to search for it on my own. I wanted to learn more about it; looking for reasons to hate it but finding none. I was beginning to truly appreciate ‘book art’ and started craving certain beautiful pieces for my room.

Candy and Controversy

Then the controversy with Lauren Conrad struck. Suddenly, the book blogging world had erupted into chaos. Angry posts started jumping up all over the place claiming that what she had done was wrong. Buzzfeed even went so far as to say that watching the video was like witnessing a murder. ‘Book art’; the two treasured words put together as predicted had sparked outrage. For those of you unfamiliar with the Lauren Conrad incident, it consisted of a (now deleted) YouTube video for a DIY project. Lauren Conrad was taking the spines of books to decorate the side of a storage container. The problem for bookworms worldwide was that to get these spines she had to destroy the books. (Source)

book art
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Here is where she went wrong: she didn’t use her own books. Lauren Conrad is the author of a series, L.A. Candy. Now, her intentions might have noble; she may have thought it would have looked like she was plugging her own books, but as they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here is where she REALLY went wrong: she used brand spanking new books. To rip apart an old, decaying book in the name of art is one thing. To take a book that’s fresh off the printer and rip it to pieces is hard to swallow. She made mistakes, no doubt about it, but do I think it was a murder of books? No, I don’t.

book art
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The Murder of Books

The murder of books is when libraries ban them for certain content. When we censor ages old classics or when we choose to see the movie instead of reading the book, that is the murder of books. Swapping out books for Ipads, never reading to your children and local bookstores forced to close down– these are the things that murder the idea of books.  ‘Book art’ may permanently change the purpose of a book, but it still celebrates the idea of it. With ‘book art’ we inspire others to see the beauty of the written word. Take my books and turn them into art if it means someone else is inspired to read. I would gladly see my book re-purposed versus children never hearing a bedtime story.

So in the end ‘book art’ may be hard to swallow, but I find it harder to cope with the thought that in 50 years children may never know what an actual book looks like. Everyday our world becomes more and more steeped into the virtual world and I predict a time where physical books are all but extinct. Just maybe though, there might be a few pieces of ‘book art’ to remind people that we were once a society that praised the written word.

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How do you feel about book art? Share below and happy reading!

Posted August 6, 2014 by Lindsey in Uncategorized / 15 Comments

15 responses to “Book Art: Cool or Offensive?

  1. As long as people are not cutting up my books *shudders*, I’m fine with it. Book Art can be beautful and just wow, like the ones above or the ones Asti showcases 🙂

    • Yeah, I’m definitely volunteering any of my books anytime soon but I just can’t help but admire the beautiful pieces. It’s a bit of a catch 22, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I’m torn between the two sides… on one hand “oh my god my babies” but on the other… I’ve seen some beautiful book art. So really I can’t even decide which side I stand on – although I now dislike Shellys as well.

    • Yes, it’s hard to swallow seeing them torn apart and I’m definitely not volunteering any of my books any time soon. Thank you Kayla, hating people together is always fun isn’t it? 🙂

  3. Yikes I can’t believe the world went so crazy over that video! I feel bad for the girl who made it, the internet can turn on you in an instant and it’s not pretty. I must admit I struggle to stomach book art because I can barely bend the front cover of my books without a look of horror on my face, let alone cut them up (although once I did rip out a few pages from two books for a background for an art project which still makes me shiver to this day). Some of the pieces they make are so beautiful though! I don’t have a problem with people doing it, just as long as it’s not in my eye line because it hurts my poor beating heart. I love your line ‘Book art’ may permanently change the purpose of a book, but it still celebrates the idea of it.’ Such a lovely way of putting it. 🙂

    • Yeah, it was pretty ugly, but the internet is an ugly world. People can say virtually whatever they want without any repercussions. I’m definitely not offering any of my books for the sacrificial slaughter at the moment! Just the idea of someone purposely ruining a book when you worked so hard to keep it in great condition is hard to comprehend, but I hate it when people call that offensive when we should be focusing that energy on those that would censor our books! Thanks Becky, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I always look forward to hearing your opinion. 🙂

  4. This is a great post! I loved seeing both sides of this issue. Personally, I have a hard time dealing with book art…it’s hard to imagine doing those things to a book! But I don’t really have a “problem” with it, I just wouldn’t want to do it myself or with any of my own books haha. But I agree with you that it’s usually art done in the spirit of celebrating books, so it’s a GOOD thing! And there are definitely tons of worse ways you could murder books that I definitely definitely definitely am NOT okay with!

    • Thanks Miranda, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I just wanted to point out that book art is nothing to banning books. That’s what we need to focus our energy on, not someone making art. That said though I’m definitely not handing over any of my books at the moment. 😉 I’m kind of right there with you, as long as it’s not my books than it’s fine by me! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I have to say I mostly fall on the side of freedom of expression. It doesn’t mean I don’t cringe when I see book art (I mean, what book lover wouldn’t?) but I do appreciate the creativity involved. Awesome discussion topic!

    • Thanks Tammy! I totally understand where you’re coming from, the thought of handing over one of my books makes me cringe but I love the idea behind book art. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I think I’d rather people use damaged books or maybe older books that they didn’t really connect with or like…tax law or something (like in the movie The Day After Tomorrow when they’re arguing about what books to burn to keep warm) but if you’re using something to make something meaningful to you, I guess it’s still beautiful. And I agree that banning books and not appreciating them at all is worse!

    • I haven’t seen The Day After Tomorrow, but that part sounds really interesting. I can’t even imagine being in that situation as it would be so important in choosing which books! I agree with you, it should be old books that are on the way out the door. Thanks for reading Katy! 🙂

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