The Backwards Book Trend You'll Never Want to See Again, Ever

© Lana U/Shutterstock
© Lana U/Shutterstock
Photo of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor23 January 2018

Every once in a while, a new home design trend emerges that makes you go, “Whaaa? But why?”

In the scheme of home décor faux pas, the backwards book trend has to be the worst. Unlike other horrendous design trends, this one is so bad it almost feels almost offensive; as in, are you shaming your own books? What’s going on over there?

When it comes to questionable home décor, the culprit is normally because of a blatant dismissal of one principle: form follows function. It’s not to say that every item in your home has to have a specific function—some things are just for aesthetic and that’s OK, while some things have a purely sentimental level. And that’s OK too.

But when it comes to books, their role is pretty clear: to be seen and read. So why intentionally subvert that function?

Perhaps that’s why this whole “backwards book trend” is so baffling, so utterly nonsensical. Are we so trapped in an anti-intellectual society that we dismiss even the legible spines of our books?

Are the titles so offensive that we can’t bear to see them glaring at us from their shelves? Does David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest or Susan Sontag’s Debriefing mock you with their bold lettering and self-assertion, and must be turned around?

Are we punishing our books?

Needless to say, it’s pretty baffling.

We can hyper-analyze the “why” of this trend until the point of exhaustion, but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: it just doesn’t look good. And perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t make sense. Some have said the trend is to bring a sense of uniformity to a room (in the form of a sandpapered, beige blandness), rather than highlight diversity of color and texture.

For many book lovers (and design lovers) out there, this trend feels vaguely dystopian. It’s an unintentional censorship of words. And it’s for one type of person: someone who must really hate reading. It’s for someone who views books as mere aesthetic tools, as props in the absurdist theater that is their home.

The backwards book trend is for those who couldn’t care less about distinguishing Nietzsche from Elizabeth Gilbert. Those who like the “idea” of books, rather than actual reading.

So can we all agree to stop glorifying this “book shaming” trend? Let’s put it to rest and collectively decide to never, ever do it.

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