i too am experimenting with altered books. I really like to alter childrens board books. you know, the ones you can buy for less than $1 and are really thick cardboard and only have 5-7 pages. this way, i don't get intimidated by so many pages to work on. i am in the middle of working on 2 books. the first one is a 7 page book, which is themed on the band the killers. i have 1 song per spread and just collage some lyrics, pictures, anything. the other one is a 5 page book that i themed on colors. i found a bunch of really neat quotes about colors, so there is one color per spread. when choosing a theme, i like to pick something that is fairy short. so instance, some ideas are the 7 deadly sins, 7 stages of grief, a certain number of quotes. i usually pick out a theme, then try to find a book with the number of pages i want. another good theme idea is a certain emotion, such as passion, romance, innocence, whatever.
well, since you said mushy isn't your style...try quotes from some of your favorite movies. not necessarily lovey quotes, but just really funny ones. for instance, i too have a boyfriend scrapbook. well, we love the movie anchorman. so i just found a few pictures from the movie and the quotes that made us laugh the hardest. that way, it reminds you of good times that you two have had, and shows that the simplest things, like watching movies, is special because it's with him. or any inside jokes you two have or special memories.
some of my favorite tips: *if you want to use items like newspaper which has a lot of acid in it,you can buy this archival spray that makes it safe to be around pictures and will cause it not to discolor. i would only invest in this though if you are either going to be a serious scrapbooker or plan to work with a lot of newspaper. *diynet.com has some great ideas under their scrapbooking section. *wal-mart has a great selection of acid free cardstock for pretty cheap. it's great to work with because it is so inexpensive and so versatile as well. *i recommend using a picture tape that comes in the little roller things. my favorite is adhesive tech. once again, pretty inexpensive and so simple to use and not messy at all. *don't be afraid to use different things in your scrapbook. stencils, stickers, stamps, ribbons, vellums, everything can add so much dimension to your page. and you can find things around your house, or go to walmart/craft store and buy the specific thing you want.