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Upcycling Old Books Into Custom DIY Journals

Learn how to turn any book into a beautiful homemade journal! DIY journals are fun to make and can even be a great handmade gift idea.

Like I have said before, I am a huge book nerd. I mostly like to read them, but every once in a while, they end up as crafting materials for me. I’m always on the lookout for pretty hardback covers at thrift stores or garage sales. Here are three of them now!

Making books into DIY journals

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How To Make DIY Journals

Along with loving to read, I also love to write. It’s a great combination, right? So, I have started making notebooks out of these old hardback books. You can make them too! Here’s how:

Gather Your Supplies

You only need a few simple items to get started making your own DIY journal:

Cut Your Paper

Start by cutting your paper. You want to measure the book pages and cut your paper to about 1/2″ smaller, both length and width-wise.

For example, if your book has pages that are 4″x6″, you’ll want to cut your paper to 3.5″x5.5″. I recommend using a paper trimmer unless you are great at cutting super straight with scissors!

Cutting out craft paper into smaller sheets to create handmade journal
Converting books into notebooks

Glue Craft Paper Onto Book Pages

Cover the back of your paper with a light coat of glue or double-sided tape.

Applying glue to craft paper pages for DIY journal out of an old book

Carefully place the page on the book, and smooth it down onto the page.

Gluing down paper onto pages of vintage books.

Repeat the step to cover as many pages of the book as you want.

handmade journal made with brown paper in an old hardback

I make most of mine with plain brown craft paper.

However, every once in a while I use patterned paper, if I know I want to use the book for photos or scrapbooking. Just follow the same process as above by cutting and gluing your paper on.

patterned paper being cut by a paper trimmer
Polkadotted cardstock pasted into a chapter book

So, that’s it! Just complete these easy steps and you’ve got a DIY journal made out of a super cute hardback book.

Helpful Tips For Making A Handmade Journal

Since the added paper will make the book quite thick, I remove some pages (I just rip them out). And I also leave others in without covering them.

Sometimes I find meaningful (or fun) phrases in the pages to highlight, like the one below.

Quotes circled on the pages of a hardback book

I added engagement photos and other wedding mementos to this book. If you know you will be adding photos – make sure to use acid free paper!

A wedding photo laid on top of a vintage book.
A book turned into a DIY photo album.

I ordered some blank library cards and have been creating pockets for my DIY journals out of coordinating scrap paper and adding them to label my books.

A library card in a pocket in the front of a hardback.
Converting books into notebooks

My favorite one I’ve made is the book that hosts quotes from books that I love. I’ve been on an Anne of Green Gables kick lately – so many great quotes!

A DIY journal of favorite book quotes.
Anne of Green Gables quotes written on brown craft paper.
A DIY journal made from a hardback book.

Create A DIY Journal Cover (Optional)

You can leave the books as is, or embellish the cover by adding a ribbon, or even some fun washi tape!

Ribbon being added onto handmade journal.


How do you repurpose an old book into a journal?

The easiest, most simple thing to do is to cover the pages on the inside of the book with paper or possibly even fabric to create a blank canvas for your new DIY journal.

How do you use old books creatively?

There are so many things you can do with old books. You can use them in endless projects or even show off their covers as decor. Old books make great gifts by themselves, but when you use them in projects that transform them in some way, they’re bound to impress.

How do you make a homemade journal?

There are plenty of other tutorials showing different ways to make handmade journals using old books. I just happen to find this method to be the most time-friendly.

What can you do with old vintage books?

In addition to making a journal with an old vintage book, you could use the pages in art projects, wrap the books in fabric as decor, turn them into a keepsake box, and more. And remember, there are all kinds of journals to experiment with making (ex: art journal, travel journal, photo journal, etc).

A Lovely Handmade Gift Idea

A notebook like this also makes a great gift and is a fun way to give new life to an old book. Handmade journals can be used as photo albums or to hold your favorite recipes.

A stack of vintage chapter books, one embellished with washi tape.

Who doesn’t love upcycling? Making handmade journals is so much fun – and simple to do. Find an old, unique hardback book and try out this DIY journal project for yourself!

More Fun With Books

Upcycle Old Books Into DIY Journals

Take your old books and transform them into something new by giving them new life as DIY journals.


  • old books
  • craft paper
  • glue or double-sided tape


  • Measure your book pages. Then cut your paper to be ½" smaller both width-wise and length-wise.
  • Add glue or double-sided tape to the back of your paper.
  • Place your paper (with the adhesive side down) carefully over the wording in your book. Smooth out the page.
  • Repeat the process as many times as you like until your DIY journal turns out the way you want it.
  • (optional) Create a cover for your journal.


Because you’re adding more paper to your book, it will probably start to become quite thick. I just randomly tear out pages to help balance everything out.
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Tania Griffis is an accomplished writer, blogger, and interior designer with a Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She started her popular blog, Run to Radiance, in 2011, demonstrating her design expertise through the personal remodeling of six houses to millions of readers across the globe.

Tania also owns The Creative Wheelhouse, a respected ghostwriting agency for bloggers, further showcasing her talent for creating engaging and informative content.

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    1. Samantha, that’s so fun! I should try that. I’m learning (or just playing with!) watercolor!

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  3. This is a great idea for old books. I want to make something special for a friend using photos I’d taken on bush walks we’d been on together over the past year and was thinking I could age the book pages with t bags and adhere photos I want to use to the page and opposite I’d use the scrapbook paper to add a description of the photo.

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  6. This is a really good idea! Simple, but so practical and fun and one I would have never thought to do! I see such cool old books at book fairs and thrift stores. This would be a fun way to use them! Thanks so much for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things!

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