Book Decor with Reader’s Digest Books

Book Decor with Reader’s Digest Books

For several years, I’ve wanted to upcycle some of the Reader’s Digest books that I often see at the thrifts. The ones from the ’50s and ’60s have these gorgeous patterned covers that are little works of art. So, I finally put a few to good use as book decor by pairing them up with some old photographs.

Reader's Digest Books at the thrift store

See what I mean? There are countless designs and patterns and they really deserve to be seen, not hidden in a bookcase.

Old Reader's Digest books for upcycling crafts and home decor

Since old books and vintage photos are two of my favorite things, I thought pairing them up in a single project would be lovely. I would use the Reader’s Digest books as photo frames, in a way, and they’d be lovely as vintage home decor.

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Upcycling the Reader’s Digest Books into Book Decor

One of my concerns about this upcycling idea was that the books wouldn’t stand properly as frames. So, I decided that adding some hidden stabilizers would be key.

So, I grabbed some grosgrain ribbon, craft scissors, and craft glue to get started.

What to do with old books with upcycling ideas

This is how I planned to prop up some of the Reader’s Digest books, almost like a wide ladder. But the books are 50+ years-old and I worried that they would go “splat!” and collapse.

First, I cut two equal lengths of ribbon that were approximately ¼” to ½” longer than the book.

Making a photo frame by upcycling the Reader's Digest books

Next, I glued them just inside one of the covers, either ¼” or ½” in, depending on how much allowance I left in the step above.

Upcycling books into photo frames for book decor

After the first edges of ribbon dried, I did the exact same thing on the other cover of my book decor.

Again, I tried to keep exact equal lengths at each end, and I used a pencil to prop up the cover as the glue dried.

Repurposing ideas and old books for decor

Once the glue was completely dry, I propped up the Reader’s Digest book again. It was perfect – the ribbon would keep the book open to exactly this amount!

And you could hardly see the ribbon, which was a bonus.

Using pieces of ribbon to hold a vintage book open as a photo frame

Using Vintage Books to Display Old Photographs

Now I could focus on the old photographs part of my book decor! I’m lucky in that I have a ton of vintage photos from my mom’s side of the family.

I have very few from my dad’s side, but I do have this one of my dad’s paternal grandparents. And half of my blog’s name is named for that lovely lady in the photo!

Displaying the old photos on the Reader’s Digest books would be easy. All I needed was some removable double-sided tape (my new favorite thing EVER) and some photo corners in black.

Making a picture frame with Reader's Digest books

I applied a single strip of removable tape to the back of the photo (avoiding any writing) and centered it on the book cover. Then, I simply adhered the photo corners in place!

Old books for decor and used as photo frames

The double-sided tape is the secret to keeping your photos straight when using photo corners!

And that was it! The first of my book decor was done and I could move on to the other Reader’s Digest books in my arsenal.

Upcycling idea for what to do with old books

Book Decor with Reader’s Digest Books

I absolutely love how they all turned out! Reader’s Digest books are particularly good for vintage photos because so many of them are far daintier than more modern prints.

Book decor with Reader's Digest books from the thrift store

I’m also excited to announce that my first book is now available! If you enjoy upcycling clothing and simple projects with fabric, then you will love my book on flannel crafts!

Craft book for flannel shirts

And if you enjoyed this upcycling idea for thrift store books, then check out this collection of other ways to repurpose vintage books for even more inspiration!

Amazing Upcycling Ideas for Old Books and Repurposed Book Projects for Vintage Books

Check out this upcycling idea for decorative bookends, as well. You need to see how plain they were when I found them!

boho bookends as botanical home decor

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. !!!!

  2. Congratulations on your book! I look forward to reading it!

  3. Jennifer Hutcherson says

    Yay! Congratulations on your book deal! Can’t wait to read it.

  4. This is such exciting news! Congrats!!

  5. Rita Corblies says

    Fantastic repurpose. Your book will show your creative imagination. I will wait patiently for your emails, I know you will be very busy working on your book. Best of luck to you. Your book will be the best.

  6. Cathy Bizri says

    I am so thrilled for you and can’t wait for your book to be available. I absolutely love your blog and all of your creative and wonderful projects. I wish you the best of luck in your book and I am certain it will be a GREAT success….

  7. So exciting!!!

  8. Ada Hamilton says

    I love your posts and creative energy and will definitely stick around. I am excited with your new project and am anxious to see the result. Good Luck!!

  9. I love your Reader’s Digest project, I have a whole bunch of them waiting for the right project! I may use a couple like you did! Congratulations on the book deal, how exciting!! Can’t wait to see it too!


  10. So happy for you Sarah, congratulations! Well deserved and can’t wait to see it in print. You Go Girl!!!

  11. How cute are the book frames, nice way to keep a bit of history around also. Congratulations on the book deal! Try to have fun with it!

  12. Very happy for you, you are an exceptionally clever upcycler (is that a word?) You really have a creative imagination, I always click on your posts…I will miss you but I understand you now have a mission. Get that gray matter simmering, look forward to your output.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you!! It’s so strange to be creating so many projects that aren’t for my blog, LOL. I’ll definitely have to sneak in some Fall/Halloween/Christmas ones, though. Can’t miss my favorite season(s)!

  13. Fonda Rush says

    Congratulations! You’ve got this! Enjoy the process! Yay, you!!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you!!! Let me tell you – I am SO GLAD I started the weight loss journey when I did. Because I’m going to need every ounce of stamina and energy I can muster to make this happen!

  14. Love this repurposing idea! I just released a post too about repurposing books. Great minds think alike! 😉 Good luck on your book!!!

  15. Kandy Himes says

    Congratulations on your new book. Love your ideas.

  16. Christine Roppel says

    WOW! Count me in for a pre-order! SO happy and proud for you!!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yay!!! Thank you so very much, Christine – I sincerely appreciate your kindness and encouragement!!

  17. Totally Fun idea….and yes, who doesn’t have a few of these floating around!

  18. Stephanie Carrico says

    Congratulations! Will keep my eye out for its release.

  19. Congrats on the book deal…we’ll be able to say, “We knew her when….” I love old RD. My favorite part, tho, is the beautiful flyleafs (Leaves?). They are often marbelized, just gorgeous! In my old dollhouse club, we removed the text, made a foamcore box to replace the pages and made a great little scene inside! As my daughter loved the Nutcracker and I had several FLAT ornaments, I put a bottle brush tree in one corner, put the Rat King on the Inner lid with the Nutcracker in the main part of the box, etc. It was “cunning.”

  20. Maggie Martin says

    I knew there was a book in you! You are just too good not to have a book and maybe many more after that!
    You go girl! So very proud of you.

  21. Awesome news! Looking forward to your book! Your posts inspire me all the time. There are several projects I made thanks to your creativity! Keep on creating! ?

  22. Naomi Shelton says

    Sarah, I’m so excited for you! The topic(s) in your book sound right up my alley! I can’t wait to see how it progresses. I’m assuming you will share the process with us from time to time.

    I love your idea of displaying those beautiful Reader’s Digest covers with vintage photos. I’m inspired to get me to the thrift store and look for some.

    Best of luck as you start this new book project. I’ll be watching for any up-dates you send us.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, Naomi – I sincerely appreciate it!! I will definitely post occasionally and will try and include book updates along the way. And sending you good thrifting vibes to find pretty RD books!!

  23. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see the book!

  24. You are the Macgyver of crafting/recycling! I will be purchasing your book and finally putting my stash of Readers Digest books to use. The talent you have inspires a lot of us to find beauty in everything. Best wishes on your new endeavor.

  25. So happy for you! I’ll be buying it!!

  26. paulasweetpea says

    Congratulations on your book! I’m so proud of you and I look forward to reading it.

  27. Linda J Deascentis says

    I need to unsubscribe but can not locate the unsubscribe area on this website. Please advise

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      For security reasons, I can’t do this for you. Look for the word “unsubscribe” near the bottom of every/any email alert I’ve ever sent and click the link.

  28. Such a gorgeous up-cycle… and CONGRATS ON YOUR NEWS! Long overdue I say! Cannot wait to see you in print!

  29. WOOHOO!! I am sooo happy for you on your book. How exciting. Your blog is one of my favorites. I’ve been weeding out the ones that are not focused on my needs & wanted to let you know I Love Your Blog!! Keep us posted. Hugs

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      You are SO very kind, thank you!! I have some updates about the book release that I will include in my next blog post (short story- it’s been delayed due to current world events). Boo, hiss…but not surprising.

  30. They are really pretty and so unique.


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