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'Absolutely bonkers': Displaying books backwards for design reasons

I recently had one of those weird moments when I wondered if something was happening for real or if I dreamed it.

In this case it’s for real. I did not wake up one morning and say, “Wow. I had the strangest dream last night. People are putting their books on their bookshelves backward.”

Turns out, they are turning their books around. It’s been going on for some time on Pinterest, Instagram, design websites.

As someone who insists on hanging the toilet paper the right way (my way) and having cartons, bottles and jars placed in the refrigerator with the labels facing forward, I don’t get it. We have lots of books in our house. Last time I looked (five minutes ago), none are turned backward.

Before I read more about this so-called trend, I asked myself why this might be happening.

Do the colors of the spines clash with the couch?

Is one ashamed of the book titles and author names they have on their shelves so they want to make them disappear?

Are the books turned with their spines to the wall being punished for being bad? Maybe they have collected too much dust? (By the way in the photos I have seen online, some of the jacket covers appear to have been removed too.)

Perhaps this tip seen in late October on the Apartment Therapy Instagram feed provides the best clue: “Books don’t match your decor? Don’t fret. The incredibly easy solution? Flip them for a perfectly coordinated look.”

Surprise! People around the world are now all over this on social media – #backwardsbooks.

In the last few days I came across this post on Elle Decor with the headline (all caps, mind you, so I’ll show it their way): “CAN WE PLEASE STOP ACTING LIKE BACKWARD BOOKS ARE A LEGIT TREND?” The subhead: “My blood pressure can’t take this ‘minimalist style’ anymore.

The author, Danielle Fox, clearly not a fan, wrote this: “If I come to your house and you’ve done this to your books, I’m flipping over your coffee table. Because an upside-down table makes just as little sense as a book filed on the shelf, spine in.”

And this from the Australian website “The backwards book trend is one of the silliest things we’ve seen: A NEW interior design trend is being mercilessly mocked on social media. And for good reason – it’s absolutely bonkers.”

I read another story online about how a lifestyle blogger, after writing about the trend, received threats from social media users saying they would be coming to her house.

Color-coded bookshelves are another big thing seen on Instagram and Pinterest. To achieve this look, similarly colored books are grouped together, along with accessories in the same color family. One shelf may be all blues. Another, shades of yellow.

But if it’s all beige or all white you’re after, you know how you can get the look.

Flip them. And never find the book you’re looking for again.

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