+
Most Shared

This woman makes incredible art from discarded books.

Books can tell stories in many different ways.

Malena Valcarcel loves books and has been an avid reader all her life. But that's not the only reason books inspire her.

As a paper artist, Valcarcel tells her own stories using books as her canvases.

All images by Malena Valcarcel/Malena Valcarcel Art, used with permission.


Seriously, how cool is that?

Valcarcel says she creates these sculptures from books that have been thrown away for one reason or another. Sometimes she rescues them from refuse bins, secondhand shops that can't move them, and even libraries that incinerate unwanted or damaged books to make room for new ones. In fact, she's developed such a reputation for repurposing books that friends bring her books they no longer want or need.

And the best part is that she gives them new lives as beautiful, incredibly unique works of art.

She often incorporates elements from the books she's repurposing to pay homage to the source from which she draws her creativity. It might be a tree (the source of all books) or a character from a story that once moved her.

"I can be inspired by a book I read, or maybe a specific passage of that book can inspire me to create a Book Sculpture," she wrote in a Facebook message.  

The dreamlike dioramas she creates can make you feel like you're getting a secret glimpse into the world of a fantasy novel.

Here are 12 of Valcarcel's book sculptures that prove there's more than one way to love a book.

1. Like this magical castle in the woods.

2. Or this tree-gnome with a peacock for a hat.

3. Who doesn't want a cozy reading nook like this one?

4. Here's a fitting tribute to "Alice in Wonderland."

5. And another miniature one (watch out for that cat, Alice).

6. She's also not afraid to get fantastically creepy.

7. These three witches conspiring are a bit spooky.

8. And what witch tableau is complete without owls?

9. Books can take you on so many journeys, even in alternative forms.

10. Like sailing past a magical city at dusk.

11. Or stumbling upon a wishing well while getting lost in an enchanted forest.

12. Books have a transformative power. Even when they themselves have been transformed.

Valcarcel's art allows us to look at books in an entirely new light and may even inspire more visually-inclined people to start reading again.

Of course it would be wonderful if more books stayed on people's shelves rather than landing in refuse bins. But for the ones that do, it's comforting to know some may end up in Valcarcel's hands.

Thanks to her creativity, they'll have the chance to tell a new story in a way that's sure to make people stop and appreciate, if just for a moment, the magic of books.

Sponsored

Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone

Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.

Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga, Nathalie and Gina all have MS, and their experiences show how differently the disease can manifest.

True

It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.

Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.

All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.

To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.

woman with horse, woman riding horseGina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi

Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)

When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.

“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”

As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.

“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.

Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.

“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”

To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.

Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.

Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.

Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.

woman in wheelchair holding medal, woman rowingNathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi

Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)

Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.

“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”

However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.

“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.

She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”

By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.

Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.

Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.

“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”

woman exiting water after swimming, woman with great daneHelga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)

When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.

“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”

In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.

“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.

However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.

Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.

Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.

“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”

Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.

MAT-GLB-2301642-v1.0-05/2023

This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.

Man diagnosed as a sociopath answers people's questions.

The term "sociopath" is something that people don't often understand. The public's exposure to what a sociopath is generally comes from the media depictions, usually in some psychological thriller that portrays the villain as a manipulative, out-of-control killer. They slap the sociopath label on them either in the background information or through inference.

But what is a sociopath? For starters, it's not actually called "sociopath," though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The correct diagnosis is "antisocial personality disorder," and the Mayo Clinic defines it as, "a mental health condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others." While it's true that people who have this specific type of personality disorder often engage in criminal behavior, that doesn't mean they are going to be unpredictably violent.

Greg, a man who says he was diagnosed with sociopathy around the age of 21, sat down to answer people's questions about the disorder.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Student who sent her teachers hundreds of thank you notes gets heartfelt surprise at graduation

Minna Yang began sending notes to teachers in elementary school and never stopped. Those teachers never forgot her.

Canva

So much gratitude racked up over time

Many of us have sent a thank you to that one special teacher who really made an impact during our school days. Those standout heroes who taught us how to shine, grow beyond our limitations, and see the beauty of our potential.

However, Minnesota high school senior Minna Yang has gone above and beyond, sending literally hundreds of notes of appreciation to every single one of her teachers. Yes. Every. Single. One.

Yang began this sweet gesture as a shy elementary student and never stopped. Not only did she add new teachers to the list, she continued writing to teachers from her previous years, so the list would grow exponentially. By her senior year, she had 74 teachers and staffers in total who would receive a note.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Man lists things millennials grew up with that Gen Z would be outraged by

"Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends."

Things Gen Z would be outraged by that were normal for millennials.

There will likely always be some kind of playful generation war going on between older and younger generations. This time it's a millennial throwing what some may deem as truth bombs at Gen Z, seemingly unprompted. (Well, it could be that he's upset that Gen Z is getting all the credit for being tech savvy since the majority of his complaints were technology related.)

Dwight Thomas uploaded a video to TikTok listing things that millennials grew up with that the generation below him would be outraged by. As someone who would be considered an elder millennial by some people, I'd have to agree. The man makes some valid points about things we experienced as teenagers that would likely make teens today aggressively send out Change.org petitions.

"These new-age kids will never understand the struggle. Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends," Thomas says into the camera.

Keep ReadingShow less

CGI characters speaking Old English, Old Japanese and Hittite.

Given that language evolves so rapidly, it’s hard to imagine what people sounded like 200 years ago, let alone 500 or a thousand. Even when we watch movies about ancient civilizations, the characters usually speak in a language similar to the audience, giving us a false sense of what people in those times were like.

The folks at Equator AI are giving people a realistic idea of what people in ancient civilizations sounded like by recreating the languages of 15 languages that haven't been heard in centuries. In the video, the languages are spoken by computer-generated recreations of people who lived in that era.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

As a therapist, I have never punished my children. Here's what I do instead.

No, the kids aren't running amuck and in charge of my home.

My children have never been punished and here's why.

Childrearing is always a touchy topic, and with the rise of newer parenting techniques like gentle parenting and free-range parenting, people get passionate about their techniques. To be fair, parenting is a very personal journey and every parent out there will parent differently than the next. In fact, even within the same household, each child is parented differently when they have the same exact parents.

This is because as parents we are constantly learning what works and what doesn't. We're also learning that each child has a different personality and needs a different approach. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, but there are some evidence-based practices that have been proven to work well as a guide for your personal style.

When I first started having children a little over 20 years ago, my family had a lot of opinions about my parenting style because there was no "punishment" for unwanted behaviors. It seemed like a foreign concept back then, and it still feels foreign now to some people. But the truth is, my children have never experienced punishment at my hand.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

A person with body dysmorphia asked a woman at a pool party to cover up. Was she right?

Should a woman have to cover up her body if it makes someone else uncomfortable?

A group of friends having fun at a pool party.

A post on Reddit’s AITA subforum brought up a compelling debate about how people approach the mental health of others. As friends, coworkers and family members of people with mental health issues, how far is too far when it comes to accommodating their unique needs and requests?

It all started when a person with the username GlumDemand, 30, went with his girlfriend Alex, 27, to a friend’s pool party and barbecue. Also attending that party was their friend, Christine, 37, who had recently had a child and was struggling with postpartum depression. She hoped that attending the party would help to “lighten her mood.”

Postpartum depression happens to some women after giving birth and can cause mood swings, a loss of appetite, low energy and feelings of inadequacy. In severe cases, it can lead to major depression or postpartum psychosis.

Keep ReadingShow less