Interior Design

What Do We Think About This Quirky Book Trend?

January 29, 2018

There’s a new home decor trend on the block, and it’s upsetting people, to say the least.

Book lovers everywhere are at arms over the up-and-coming backward books trend, where people style their bookshelves with spines facing in, pages facing out.

As you can imagine, this probably makes it hard to find a specific book since you can’t see the titles, and it’s certainly not how books are traditionally stored. However, it does create a uniquely uniform look for your bookshelf.

So what is it about this controversial trend that has people riled up? Is there a reason to store your books backward? Or is it just to rock the boat a little? Scroll through any number of Instagram comments and you'll find people on either side of the divide.

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"Apparently this nonsense is trending in decorator showrooms, and being touted as a minimalist look, due to the neutral color of the paper. I love when people arrange their books artfully, but these isn’t that. This is antithetical to the idea of reading," commented booklegger_eureka on this post. "I never knew of this trend till now. I like it. And agree with @pitmanpyle that it would work well with the books you’ve already read," a more forgiving miningforsoul stated on this photo.

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Top Comment:
“This trend is for people who don't actually read their books. It follows the trend of removing the book jacket and wrapping the binding in white paper so as to avoid any visual distraction in their decorating scheme. These are the same folks who would buy books by the inch or the pound, only for the color of their leather bindings, not to be read but to accessorize a wall space. I these "decorators" curate their family photographs the same way.....everyone wearing neutral suit the display?”
— Janet F.

"My grandfather would have a fit lol," chimed in wmphototo on this 'gram. And then there are those who've tossed convention out the window to give it a try: "I’ve done it a few times recently. I did roll my eyes at myself for doing it though," admitted homestagingbrisbane.

For blogger Hannah Briggs of Thistle Harvest, backward books are a way to maintain a cohesive aesthetic in her home.

“I only keep the books that have pretty & neutral spines facing outward, and any book with a super colorful or not as pretty spine, I face inward,” she explained in a comment on Instagram.

Bookshelves can certainly look a bit jumbled with all their random covers, so this actually makes sense if you’re committed to maintaining a neutral color scheme.

For others, backward books are a way to bring interest into the home. Blogger Natasha Meininger of Outside and In explains that she simply wanted a unique way to store her vast collection of books. Plus, she raises a good question: How often do you really reread books?

“My book collection is huge, so it was important to me from a design standpoint to find a creative way to store my accumulation,” Meininger explained to TODAY Home. “I have read thousands of books. I’ve only reread about 20, so I don’t find it necessary to be able to find a specific title that I’ve already read at the drop of a hat."

Again, a reasonable explanation. Maybe this trend isn’t so crazy after all.

Here are a few more examples of the controversial home decor craze:

Okay, we want to know: What are your thoughts on the backward books trend? Sound off below!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Janet Filip
    Janet Filip
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    Karin Byars
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    Victoria Carr
  • Exbruxelles
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


Janet F. March 24, 2019
This trend is for people who don't actually read their books. It follows the trend of removing the book jacket and wrapping the binding in white paper so as to avoid any visual distraction in their decorating scheme. These are the same folks who would buy books by the inch or the pound, only for the color of their leather bindings, not to be read but to accessorize a wall space. I these "decorators" curate their family photographs the same way.....everyone wearing neutral suit the display?
WOW March 16, 2019
WOW. Staged libraries. Really? No. Books are to be read, beloved and respected. It is the words inside that matter. Everything, just about, is designer in my loft, not my books. And I love them just the way they are.

Buy a swank buffet (with fancy doors) and stuff it with whatever is your true passion. Shades of Grey books and cds perhaps. Additional benefits of buffet: top serves as buffet for cocktail parties or bar service. : )

Fondest regards.
Karin B. March 16, 2019
If you only have 17 books and feel the need to appear to be trendy - fine. I have thousands of books and I live in an old house with lots of built in bookshelves, they are my stimulation, my medication and, at my age, (77) they fill a void in my life smart men have left.
Victoria C. February 5, 2018
This is ridiculous.
Exbruxelles February 5, 2018
This is perfect for someone staging a house for sale and for people who don't care about books or the people who read them. Otherwise, it's just dumb.
And I, too, have thousands of books--with the covers facing outward--and while I won't re-read all of them, that's not exactly the point of collecting books you love. I don't re-read The Essays of EB White often, but every time I see it's battered maroon cover in the bookshelf it reminds me of Christmas 1977, when I fell in love with words. Books remind us of who we were...and who we are, which is arguably more important that the visual dissonance of their covers.
Elaine February 2, 2018
This look is not for book lovers. Soon someone will try and convince followers on social media to wear their clothes inside out, and some will follow the trend! Doesn't that say a lot about social media.
Nick G. February 2, 2018
This idea is dumb, an "Emperor's new clothes" idea. Part of the pleasure of owning books is being able to peruse them all before choosing the volume you really want to read. One can only assume that the person who started this doesn't read physical books.
A. G. February 2, 2018
If uniformity of design is the point, one may as well turn paintings to face the wall.
Christine A. February 2, 2018
Paper will be gross, so dusty, like they actually look boring, like all the different colors of the book bindings
Christine A. February 3, 2018
I meant I like the the colors of the book bindings, and I also reread, books plus have my own little library.
katie February 1, 2018
If you're never going to want to find them again, why are you saving them?
Elizabeth February 1, 2018
Clearly a trend of designers and not readers. If these were your
cookbooks, how the heck would you find anything (except perhaps
the odd dust bunny)? On a winter's night, when the power is out
finding a book to reread is like finding an old friend to visit. Curling
up with a cat, a quilt and a book is comforting. Minimalism to this
degree is not.
Erica B. February 1, 2018
Whichever way you fall on the side of this argument, I find it fascinating to see history repeating itself. Back in the middle ages, when books were valuable and rare enough to be chained for safe-keeping, they were often stored with the spine facing inward to protect the binding and allow room for the chains. Titles, markings or even paintings might be added to the fore edges in order to distinguish the books from one another. Funny how some people are returning to this old way of display, albeit for a different, aesthetic reason instead. Perhaps storing scrolls in niches will be the next "new" trend?
Kathy R. February 1, 2018
Are you a decorator? Or are you a reader? If you're a reader, this will make you crazy. If you're a decorator, you can find something prettier than backwards books.
Leslie B. February 1, 2018
Idiotic, completely impracticable, and obviously only for people who don’t REALLY read, or care about what they do read but want to seem to be literate. Wonder how many people do this with a collection of cook books? You could NEVER find anything.... hideous millennial fad.
Monette P. February 1, 2018
I come from a family of rereaders, so I do like to see the spines. If I happen to have books I don't particularly like and no amount of rereading could change my mind (there are books that seem to take on a whole new life as I age), they end up donated or altered.
Sue February 1, 2018
Think of all the time you could spend reading a great book rather than doing this!
Nora February 1, 2018
Very boring and makes no sense.. to see different books and colors and titles is more interesting to the eye , and adds depth.. this doesn’t even look pleasing , in my opinion ...
Eileen February 1, 2018
This makes no practical sense to me. Except. I have stored my books spine up, to keep dust from ruining the edges of the pages. Dust can't easily be cleaned from the edges of the pages, and after a few years the books start looking tawdry. So spine up makes sense to me, and suddenly the weird look doesn't seem so weird.
Eileen February 1, 2018
Or stack them in piles, with the cover of the book parallel to the shelf. That keeps the dust off the edges too, and leaves the edges of the pages facing out. At least these two approaches have some practical purpose.
bronwyncarlisle February 1, 2018
Daft. And if you're not going to re-read the books why are you keeping them at all? If you want the books as home decor, just buy ones with pretty spines. If you want them to read, you need to be able to see what they are.
Jes February 1, 2018
This is the worst.