Please write in this book

Forget the scorn and scolding. These are the new rules: You have permission to write in books. Pick up an old book and make it new.

I love altered books — the idea of expansion, of taking one form and enlarging the canvas.

• One of my favorite works is from Karen Hatzigeorgiou, an artist creating contemporary art in the form of altered books and collage. Her work, The Art of Happiness, was created from a 1935 book of the same title. The result is a journal of striking color, collage and poetry.

The Art of Happiness by Karen HatzigeorgiouThe Art of Happiness is sometimes a book of sadness, disillusionment, and discontent,” she  explains. “Still, it's important to note that it is also a book with an underlying current of optimism. And in that way, it has become much more of an altered book journal than I ever intended.”

• Mary Ruefle creates spare and elegant erasure books that feel beautifully distilled.

Melody: The Story of a Child by Mary Ruefle
"I use white-out, buff-out, blue-out, paper, ink pencil, gouache, carbon, and marker," she says. "I have resisted formal poetry my whole life, but at last found a form I can’t resist. It is like writing with my eyes instead of my hands."

• Valerie Savarie is an artist reinterpreting old books with skill and precision. She uses tattered tomes as canvas and turns each into a three-dimensional piece by cutting, sewing and painting. The result is a striking layered collage that leaves most of the book intact.

With Age Comes Greater Reach by Valerie Savarie
“I am adding another chapter in the lineage of storytelling," says Savarie. In the past, "stories were communicated verbally and passed on from person to person, with each storyteller adding their own twist. This is my way of passing on that tradition — creating a visual from the written and then allowing the viewer to create their own story from the images and words that they see."


Do you write in books? What altered books have caught your eye, stirred your mind?