How to make a tree out of books

People Are Using Their Favorite Books to Make Christmas Trees

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What a novel idea.

Choosing a fake Christmas tree over the real deal is no longer a faux pas—now it's a way to show off your crafty side. This Christmas, people are building DIY trees using everything from wine bottles to tree branches to cookie tins, but our inner bookworms are obsessed with these trees made out of stacks of novels.

Watch the following video below to get the step-by-step instructions for building your own book tree, then read on to find eight more creative ideas we spotted ranked in order from hard to so-easy-anyone-could-DIY-it.

Step-By-Step Guide

Difficulty Level: Hard

Shawn Calhoun

If you want to attempt to build a massive Christmas tree out of books—like this nine-foot version at the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library—you're going to need a lot of books and something in the center (like a table) to stabilize it so it doesn't get knocked over.

Difficulty Level: Hard

Houston Public Library

While this book tree at the Houston Public Library is smaller, the topper requires some serious crafting skills.

Difficulty Level: Medium


You only need a dozen books to make this topsy-turvy book tree, but it requires drilling through the center of the books (eek!) and attaching them to a dowel to stabilize it.

Difficulty Level: Medium

Nina Matthews Photography

Don't have hours to spend searching for books with matching green spines? Use this photo as your inspiration and turn the pages towards the outside of your tree for a consistent look.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Thoughts From Alice

Stack rows of books against a wall in a tree-like shape if you're worried about stability and decorate with a pom-pom garland and a star topper.

See more photos from this Christmas house tour.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Jeff Montgomery Photography

For a cute tabletop book tree, stack 12 to 14 open books on top of each other and top with a cute paper star. (Note: this version could potentially damage the books' spines so best to use cheap used books here, not your favorite tomes).

Difficulty Level: Easiest

Sweater Surgery

This book tree is super cute and super easy to make. Just take all of your books with green covers and stack them on your bookshelf from largest to smallest and top with a star.

Difficulty Level: Easiest

IJM Photography

Here's a book tree that even the laziest of us can pull off. All you need to do is rearrange your piles of magazines and books ever so slightly into a tree-like shape on your bookshelf and boom! Christmas tree.

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How to Build a Book Tree – Matt Browning Books

How to Build a Book Tree

Matt Browning Comments

I'm a holiday decor minimalist. I haven't put up a Christmas tree since adopting pets (because I learned the hard way that cats and Christmas trees don't mix). Instead, I've opted for a novelty Charlie Brown tree and some garland around my fireplace mantel. But I was recently at Cathedral Cafe, a charming little eatery in Fayetteville, W.Va., and was quite taken with their giant book tree. Despite the fact that it's mid-November, I raced home to give it a try myself. 

There are already plenty of how-to guides online for making a book tree. Some suggest using boxes or small tables in the middle. Some don't. Some trees are small and some are the size of actual Christmas trees. I wasn't sure how much space I would need, how many books I would need, how decorative I'd want to get. Basically, I knew nothing, which is often a great way to start a project. So I decided to document my process for those of you who don't want to do a lot of research, but just want a cool holiday decor alternative. Here goes.

  1.  Bring all your books to the living room (or wherever you want your tree), away from where you plan to build. I had no idea how many books I have and how tall a tree they would make. For a writer (and writers are supposed to be quite well read, mind you), I don't own a ton of books. But I hauled most of them downstairs and piled them up. I add the "away from where you plan to build" part because I did not do this, and it got quite cluttered around my workspace. 
  2. Sort the books by size and style. This is dull work, but it helped. Large hardbacks in a pile, small hardbacks in another pile, large paperbacks in a pile…you get the idea. This came in quite handy when needing to fill tiny gaps for balance, which we'll get to soon.
  3. Choose a space and create the base of your tree. The size of the space you've got to work with will determine the girth of your tree. Make the base as big as the space will allow by forming a circle with your heaviest hardback books, spines facing outward. I placed a couple big books in the center of the circle mostly to get them out of the way and figuring it could help make the middle a little sturdier. I then placed an empty box in the center to add more stability as the stack grew. 
  4. Build your tree layer by layer like a pyramid, using the heavier books first and working your way toward the lighter, smaller books as you progress. Each layer will rely on the layer under it for support. The trick to getting the treelike look is not stacking each book directly atop the one below it, but to stack a book atop the two books beneath it so that the ends of the book are resting on each of the two books below it, and there's a bit of a gap in the center of the book. Continue building in this manner.
  5. As you build, you'll inevitably need to fill gaps caused by books of varying thickness. Use the smallest of your paperbacks or thin hardbacks to help even things out as needed. This is where the sorted book stacks come in handy. You'll know just where to find those small books without much digging.
  6. Eventually, your layers will reach the top of your center box and start closing in around it as you near your tree top. Use the boxtop as a base of sorts and stack books directly on it at this point, using the same layering method as you have all along. Soon, you'll come to the top of your pyramid and can place your last book to top your tree.
  7. Decorate! As I said, I'm a minimalist. I wanted to be able to read the spines of the books so I simply used a string of white lights and a star to top the tree. But be as creative as you would with a real tree – garland, ornaments, the whole shebang.

Here's a little video I made of the process.

Some Additional Tips:

  • Not sure how many books you'll need? I wasn't either. Just use what you've got and see what you end up with. I didn't count my books beforehand, but I ended up with a just-below-waist-high tree. I'd love to have a full-size one! I guess I've got some more reading to do.
  • Convinced you don't have enough books? Been downloading too much stuff on that Kindle? If you don't mind spending a little money, check out thrift stores, libraries, used book sales, etc., and stock up on cheap books. Or ask your friends to borrow some of theirs. [Attention my friends: please don't ask this of me. I hate loaning out books. They never seem to return!]
  • Put your favorite books in the front. Visitors will likely check out the books in your tree, so put those old books you can't even believe you own (or those thrift store finds) in the back, against the wall.
  • Never leave your tree lights on unattended. Paper is flammable, you know.
  • Don't use any books you intend to read before the end of the holiday season. I accidentally put my copy of Career of Evil, the latest Cormoran Strike novel, into the tree and had to very carefully remove it, Jenga style.

All in all, I'm pleased with my experiment. It could've been a little tidier. It could've been a little bigger. But it's certainly adorable.

Happy Holidays!

But wait, there's more! A day later, I decided my tree was just too dang small. So I made it bigger. Learn how in How to Build a Book Tree, Part Deux!

How to reduce paper consumption without giving up paper books? 7 Simple Changes - Services on

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Do you know how much wood is in the book you were holding today? - About 5 kilograms of raw wood is needed to produce one book. And how many trees need to be cut down,


How to do it?

You can continue to read your favorite book, and then another and another ... but at the same time reduce the negative impact of modern consumption on the destruction of forest areas. And I'm not talking about e-books, because many, including myself, are more pleasant to hold the physical, paper-smelling products of a printing press in their hands. I suggest that you share the book you have already read with other people, and in return take the book you would like to buy for free. According to various studies, about 530 million trees are cut down annually in the world, a quarter of them for paper production.

Although 82% of the forest is restored naturally or with the help of human resources, every year we irretrievably lose 95 million trees, or about 95 thousand hectares of forest, or a source of oxygen that would be enough for 190 million people. By exchanging books that have already been printed before, you can save about 15% of the lost forest every year. Good start, don't you agree?

But that's not all. We at BookShare Club have identified 7 ways to save paper that have become our healthy habit.

1. Do not take free advertising newspapers and coupons from promoters and distribution points in supermarkets, because demand always creates supply. The less we read this useless waste paper, the less it will be produced. In addition, now there are many mobile applications that allow you to get discounts, bonuses and information: some businesses have their own, others have Letyshops and the like.

2. Do you still receive various paper catalogs in the mail? - Just discard them and find analogues on the Internet. After all, almost everything is now duplicated online. And if a certain magazine is not online, you can always find analogues from more modern editions.

3. Reduce paperwork. Transfer communication with customers, bosses, partners to modern technologies: e-mail, instant messengers, electronic document management services. For example, to sign many contracts, we use the service, we have long transferred team communication to e-mail and telegram. You can adopt the same tools or choose from a variety of analogues. Print on paper only the most necessary documents, but here, too, try to use both sides of each sheet.

4. You can also ditch paper handkerchiefs and towels in favor of washable ones, but this will increase the consumption of washing powder, which is also not very good for the environment. It is important to find a balance here.

5. Do you like to read before going to bed and have a few books already read on your shelves? - Go to BookShare Club, share them with other members of the club and choose something new for yourself.

6. You can pay utility bills and taxes online. All checks and receipts will be sent to your e-mail, thereby saving kilograms of paper. In addition, many banking and independent online payment systems offer bonuses for their use: no commissions, cashbacks, discounts and installments for the purchase of other goods for regular customers.

7. I keep a daily to-do list and write down dozens of ideas and thoughts. If you do the same, you do not need a paper notebook, because sooner or later it always ends up in the trash. You can keep to-do lists and projects in, and notes and ideas are perfectly stored in Google Keep and Evernote. If the classic approach is still closer to you, on the Green Office website you can order excellent notebooks made from recycled paper. By the way, on our forum there is a promotional code for a permanent discount for BookShare Club members.

Using these recommendations, you will annually save not only 7-10 trees, but also about 400-600 dollars of the family budget.

So, with little effort and applying these recommendations every day, you will get a healthy habit of mindful consumption. By doing this, you can not only take care of our green planet, but also give yourself and the people around you the opportunity to breathe deeply every day.

Hello Tree: 11 books for adults and children to connect with nature

In support of our summer issue, the main theme and inspiration of which was "Tree", I wanted to share with you my favorite books that help to reveal the secret world of nature and tell about the greatness, beauty, uniqueness and strength of the green giants around us .

Learn more about each tree, admire the strength of the roots and the fragility of the foliage, feel our deep connection with nature - all this is easier to do by flipping through the "green books".

The Big Book of Forests and Trees, Clever @cleverbook

Author and artist René Mettele has been creating amazing nature-themed albums and books for many years and is renowned for the incredible authenticity of his illustrations. This is a real encyclopedia of everything about trees: from the structure and mysteries of photosynthesis to the topic "Tree" in art, myths and traditions.

Trees, publishing house Samokat @samokatbook

The novelty of the modern Polish illustrator and author of the book "Bees" - the beautiful Piotr Soch. A sight book! You disappear into it as if in a dense canopy of trees - each page captures and amazes with beauty and richness. The tallest, oldest and thickest trees in the world, wooden musical instruments and ritual masks of different peoples, wooden vehicles from different eras, trees in myths and religions of the world. Leaves, roots, rituals and customs of different countries associated with trees and, of course, the huge role that trees play in our lives.

Sophie in the World of Trees, Albus Corvus @albuscorvus.books

Stefan Casta is an internationally renowned and award-winning children's writer. In 1981 he decided to devote himself to what interested him most - nature. He lived for about 30 years in the south of Sweden on a small farm, and he definitely knows how to interest us and captivate us into the world of trees. This book will help you feel the charm of each season, teach you how to make a pipe from a willow, plant and grow your own tree. He will tell about lovers of wild nuts and reveal the secret of what ice cream sticks are made of.

Ecobooks “My little forest” and “My little garden”, publishing house “Samokat” @samokatbook

isn't it a dream? Ecobooks introduce children to the inhabitants of forests and gardens, instilling a taste for natural materials and stylish illustrations. And the most valuable and beautiful thing is that thanks to the use of eco-cardboard, 11 trees on this planet were not cut down!

“My herbarium. Leaves of Trees, publishing house "MIF" @mifbooks

A well-made herbarium book that invites the child not only to read it, but also to become a full-fledged author! A detailed story about 16 types of trees and tips on how to properly collect, dry, stick leaves with strips of paper on specially designated pages to get your own scientific collection - a herbarium. Ideal for all summer and autumn for keen children and parents.

Little House on the Prairie, Pink Giraffe @pinkgiraffebooks

The second of seven famous stories in Laura Ingles Wilder's autobiographical series is a classic of American children's literature. Like the first, "Little House in the Big Woods" tells about the family of the first American settlers. Seven-year-old Laura with her parents and two sisters begin their new life in North America, where there is still no electricity, no shops, where everything has to be done for the first time and by yourself. The books perfectly describe the nature of North America and how people live in it.

Step over the threshold. A guide to nature”, publishing house “Samokat” @samokatbook

The book that every city dweller needs is written by Portuguese biologists Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Ines Teixera do Rosario and adapted by writer Nadezhda Belenka and ecologist Elena Vanisova. Absolutely amazing and complete, it seems that one of them is enough for the whole summer and even more. The assignments and numerous illustrations by the artist Bernardo P. Carvalho are my special love. Incredible beauty, answers to millions of questions and one hundred percent inspiration.

Living tree. Magic book-game for the little ones”, publishing house “MIF” @mifbooks

A story about an ordinary apple tree for kids from one year old. A game book that invites a child to knock on the pages, clap his hands and blow on a tree like the wind, and at the same time train attentiveness, visual perception and even learn to count. You can find out more on the website.

Botanicum, publishing house Machaon @azbooka_inostranka

A truly amazing book - any page with illustrations by Katie Scott wants to be torn out and hung on the wall. But the amazing and museum-like detailed descriptions of each plant, including not only trees, but also fungi, lichens, cycads, wild grasses and unicellular algae, simply will not allow you to do this.

Learn more