How to Read an Altered Book

Here are the book questions.


•             What did you find? A quote line.

•             If your finger landed on a paragraph, how many times does the letter P show up in that paragraph?  One time

•             Can you imagine the white space as a sea and the other parts (words, pictures, etc.) as islands floating in white water or space?  It is a pretty solid piece of text, so it is hard to see pictures.

Using your other senses, explain what the paper feels like.

•             Is it slick or rough?  The paper feels fairly rough.

•             What does the cover feel like? The cover feels smooth, it is laminated.

•             Can you feel the ink of the words if you close your eyes? No, I cannot.

•             Do different colors feel different with your eyes closed?  No, they do not.

•             What else can you discover about the paper? It looks recycled.


•             Without destroying the book, until it is time to alter it for the experiment, see if you can figure out how the book was constructed.

•             Is it glued?  The book is glued together.

•             Is there any cloth on this book or is it all paper? This book is all paper.

•             Is it a hardback or paperback? Paperback

•             Does it have signatures? (Hint: you may need to look up what signatures are in the context of making books…) Yes, it does.

•             If it has signatures, how many pages are in each and how many signatures are there in the whole book? I think there are 12 pages per signature and there are roughly 18 signatures.

Flip through the pages and look at the end papers.

•             Is there any writing in the book, othr than the printing? No.

Examine the book more.

•             Are there any stains on the book? No.

•             Are there any fingerprints? There are some smudges on the cover.

•             What do they look like? Dragged fingerprints.

•             How might they have happened?  Through general handling of the book.

Look at the pages of the book.

•             What is the color of the pages? I bet they are not really white. They look like a cream color.

•             How would you describe the color? Is it warm or cold? Bright or dull, etc. They are a warm color.

Think about the history of this book.

•             Can you see any other evidence that someone else has handled this book? No.

•             What are the edges of the pages like? Describe them. They have a rough look to them.

Flip through the pages quickly.

•             Can you hear the sound? If so, describe it. It sounds like a floppy sound.

•             If not, what is your experience like?

•             Can you feel the breeze? Yes.

•             Can you move something with the wind generated from the book?  Other pieces of paper.

Drop the book on the floor.

•             What did you experience? I felt the book hit the floor.

•             Did you sense the vibrations the book made? Yes.

•             Did you feel it in your feet? Yes.

•             Take your shoes off. Now drop the book. Was there any difference? I felt a little bit of wind.

Hold the book between your hands with one hand on each cover and the book closed. Close your eyes.

•             Is the book cold? Hold it like that for at least one minute. The book was cold at first.

•             Now feel the cover. Can you feel the temperature change from where your hands were to where they were not? Yes, the book is warmer where my hands were.

•             Have you ever been aware of this before when you were holding a book to read it? Yes.

•             If your heat transfers in this situation and you noticed it because I asked you to, why do you think you have never noticed it before?

•             If you have noticed the temperature of a book you were holding before, describe why you noticed it. When you read a book for a long time you can feel the difference when you turn the pages and change your hand positions.

Smell the book.

•             What does the smell make you think of? It makes me think of my closet.

•             If you can’t think of anything, describe the smells you can sense. (Interesting fact: Did you know that I have friends [many librarians, actually] who choose their books partly based on how they smell? Honestly.)

I do not recommend tasting the book for health and safety issues… 🙂


Now, finally, read the first page. If it is just pictures, read the story of the pictures. 

•             What is the title of this book? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

•             Based on the first page, explain why you think the book was titled that. The feelings of drug use and how they play out in the city.


My poor, poor book. I have mutilated the damn thing. I started out with a few ideas for my altered book (an idea I love by the way…). I really like the idea of having books in weird places. For my book I chose Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I picked it because I think there are a lot of humorous things that it can be turned into, and I am a Hunter S. Thompson junkie.

 I wanted to put this finished piece some where it wouldn’t be expected. I kept trying to think of ways that I could put it outside somehow. On Sunday night I started looking at the pictures inside the book and brainstorming. I eventually ended up with some mod podge and a brick. I recently completed a fire pit and I have tons of them lying around.  I really wanted to make the brick look like a book. I actually wanted to make a lot of bricks look like books. The more I played it out in my head, the more I liked it. An outside bookshelf made of bricks.  Quirky, sounds good.

It sounded like a cool enough idea. It is something that I haven’t seen before. I got out some paint and I started to paint the books. I got the bindings done (see pictures). But I really want to do more the text and pictures from the original book. I have a lot of pieces cut out and some of my favorite quotes from the book ready to go.  Hopefully, it turns out cool for next week…ImageImage.



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