A hand-built bookish Christmas tree

One year when I lived in the West Texas desert, I decorated a tumbleweed for Christmas. I have a deep-seated dislike for artificial Christmas trees. Where’s the spirit in plasticky pine needles? Besides, it seemed appropriate, given the cactus plants and mesquite trees outside my window. 

In keeping with the spirit, and given my current location in the Mariana Islands (and the absence of real, freshly cut Christmas trees), I should have decorated a palm tree for Christmas this year. Instead, my husband and I decided to build a Christmas tree ourselves.


Something like two hundred books out of our personal library (and one painful papercut) went into the building of this masterpiece. We turned the AC down, put on a Pandora Christmas station, sipped hot apple cider, and started stacking–biggest textbooks at the bottom, smaller paperbacks near the top. This is a diverse tree, boasting everything from Suzanne Collins to Charles Dickens to J.R.R. Tolkien.

I wonder how Dickens would feel about being stacked in with Star Wars paperbacks.

This is how I feel about my our new Christmas tree:

too much caffeine

I know. I know. Too much caffeine. If you want to build a tree of your own, I’d suggest starting with a wide , solid base. I love the big glass incandescent bulbs. Not as energy-efficient as the new LED versions, but definitely better suited to a book tree, if you ask me.

There’s no secret to this kind of art. Just stack carefully and keep the mulled cider nearby.

I’m in the process of getting the rest of the house in the stylin’ island Christmas spirit, too. Origami map tree garland, anyone?


I like it. But for all my efforts, it’s still 85 degrees hot outside.


  1. Absolutely great idea Steffani! When my husband and I lived in Khartoum, Sudan we decorated a Chinese Fan Palm one year with little Sudanese baskets and homemade camels. It was fun. You just gotta go with what you’ve got when you’re an expat. :) ~Terri

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