Lacy Literacy

Book Reviews, Discussions, Listicles, More

The worst feeling in the world is when you buy a physical copy of a book & then learn from reviews, or actually reading the book, that it is a problematic mess. I’ve found myself in this situation a couple of times and it sucks every time it happens. I get so bummed out knowing I wasted money and am now stuck with it.

Normally, I donate books I don’t like to my local Friends of the Library because it gives the library money (and I get a nice tax write off), but sometimes there are books that have content I deem too problematic for me to consider doing so. I don’t want to donate a Young Adult novel that has damaging representation or themes only for it to get in the hands of a young reader. 

But fear not readers, there are a ton things you can do with problematic books that you find too reprehensible to donate that don’t include book burning. 


Yes, you can recycle books. Even those pesky hardcovers. For those of you who don’t want the book anywhere in your vicinity ever again, recycling your problematic book is a great option & a lot less wasteful then just burning it or feeding it to your cat or just plain throwing it in the trash.


Now, you’ll have to be careful recycling books. Depending on where you live and how your city manages its recycling, you might have to do some extra work while recycling. For example, in the city where I live you can recycle paperbacks however you want, but hardcovers have to have the hardback covers & spines removed. Please, make sure you find out how your city or area wants them recycled, or if it’s possible at all because in some areas they might not accept books as recyclable material. If you find yourself in the position of not being able to recycle it, there are still some options left.

rip out pages.png

For those of you who have not had the healing experience of ripping out pages of a book, hear me out.


I spent one afternoon watching 3 Fast and Furious movies while tearing out pages of a book I despised. It was one of the most relieving experiences I’ve ever had. Knowing that I was destroying a book I truly hated made me the most satisfied I’ve been in years. I would 100% recommend it. Who wants to get me SJM books to do it with.


And now that you’re sitting in a pile of pages, there are a ton of other cool things you can do with them…


Are you looking for a way to make your packaging for presents for bookish friends more bookish? Have you always wanted to be that cool, artsy person who gives the perfectly bagged gifts that no one actually wants to open because they’re too perfect?


Well, you’re in luck. There are a ton of cool ways to turn a problematic book into unique, bookish packing supplies.


My two favorite options for turning a problematic book into present packaging supplies are using the pages as shredded paper for packaging fragile things (or just to make it look cool) or paper mache-ing it into a cute box to put a present in. As creatively bankrupt STEM major, those are the only two ways I personally use my problematic books as supplies. With a creative mind, there are probably more options.


Turning my problematic books into a bookstgram props is one of my go to ways to repurpose a problematic book. It’s great because then you don’t have to go out and buy a used book just to rip out all the pages when someone else could, you know, actually read the book instead.


Back in June, I painted the pages that I ripped out while watching Fast and Furious rainbow in honor of Pride Month for a special bookstagram prop, which you can see below~


 Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 10.53.28 AM Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 10.53.35 AM

For those of you who might find ripping out pages of problematic books not “defacing” enough or want more of a craft challenge, you’re in luck. There are a ton of cool things to turn the pages into through origami or just a lot of cutting.


I have yet to do it, but you can turn pages into paper flowers. The result is gorgeous and it always adds such a unique touch. Plus, you don’t have to be one of those people who spends $20 on book page flowers when you could easily make them yourself.


There are a ton of tutorials online for making them, below is one of the simpler ones I’ve found & actually plan on doing once my summer class ends:


home decor.png


For the extremely ambitious, there are a ton of ways to repurpose problematic books as home decor items that still block out the cover. You can do anything from book page wreaths to book page star filled ornaments to book page pumpkins.

One of my personal favorites is pictured below. If you’re looking to dispose of your Susan Elizabeth Phillips Collection, this is probably the best craft. Someone else please do this so I can live vicariously through you because I can’t glue things to my wall.


15 thoughts on “You Own a Problematic Book, Now What? — Because Book Burning isn’t the Best Option

  1. This is actually really a cool post. I clicked on the title just because it sounds intriguing. I am totally not a fan of book burning at all.

    I love the idea of using it as a prop, and the wall decoration is AMAZING. I don’t know if I want to decorate though with books I don’t like, but it is certainly better than using good books and making those unreadable. I like the idea about recycling, never actually gave that a real thought before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lacyliteracy says:

      Thanks!!! Yeah, I would have mixed feelings about knowing that I have books hanging above me that I hate, but after awhile I’d probably forget what was up there lol. That’s just me though.

      People always forget about recycling! I get so peeved when people are just like “I’m gonna throw away the book” when you could consider recycling it instead.


  2. Moira says:

    I had no idea you could recycle books. I don’t own many problematic books, but I tend to keep them if I enjoyed one of the books if it’s part of a series (this the reason I still have the Throne of Glass series).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lacyliteracy says:

      I didn’t think about recycling books until I started looking into it for this post!

      I don’t tend to end up with many problematic books either. It definitely depends on the degree of problematic-ness for me to consider destroying it. For example, there are some books that I enjoyed but have a lot of issues that I still keep. However, books like Moon Chosen which had black face, so much racism, sexism, and a ton of other shit are ones that I would repurpose. It’s a personal judgement call.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Anushka H. says:

    I usually sell problematic books I own, though I understand what the problem with that can be (that the book falls into the hands of a young reader). But I really love your other idea! Tearing the pages of the books and using them for decor and other purposes sounds SO cool. :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lacyliteracy says:

      It depends on how problematic it is for me. I’ve donated some of my problematic themed Mass Market Paperback Romances, but with Young Adult books I’m really careful.

      Tearing out the pages is the most fun part tbh 😂.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such awesome ideas! I’m grabbing all of the books I hate asap. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lacyliteracy says:

      Thanks haha! I hope you have fun destroying some books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachana says:

    These are some great ideas for what to do with problematic books! I don’t buy that many physical copies of books (think max 10 a year) so any problematic books I happen to own are all ebooks haha. I do want to try making home decor out of books someday though. The IG post you included looks so cool – like the books are growing on the walls or something.

    Rachana @ Spun

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lacyliteracy says:


      Ugh, I wish there was a way to return ebooks. It sucks to know that there’s nothing you can do with problematic ebooks at that point.

      The IG post is from my favorite bookstore called The Ripped Bodice. It’s in the LA area. They exclusively sell Romance & I ADORE the store owners.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I unfortunately still have the problematic books I own haha. I don’t want to give them away/sell them either, for the reasons you said, but I also use them as receipts to explain why they’re bad because my memory is horrible haha. Though one day I might rip out some pages and get creative 😛 I did do it before (but with a book I just disliked) and used the pages to create a diadem for art class


  7. HAHA, great post–I can’t believe people actually burn books, though. :00 (It just seems like such a waste of money!!)

    I’ve never actually torn apart a book with my bare hands– that personally feels like murder to me– but then again, I’ve never come across a book that was problematic I felt compelled to trash it.

    And present packaging supplies?? Best idea ever, omg.


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