There's a new trend in bookcase styling, and it's proving to be quite incendiary: backward books. That's right — people are turning their books so the spines face inward and the pages are turned out. It might seem like an innocuous 180-degree shift, but people are furious.
A recent Apartment Therapy Instagram post featuring the trend was met with comments ranging from angry diatribes like, "You're the kind of monsters that put the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll, aren't you?" and "This looks terrible and is idiotic. Should have saved this one for April Fool's Day!" to more terse statements such as, "Delete your account," and, "Whoever thought this up needs to be fired." While it might seem like lit-lovers would be against turning books backward, there were a surprising amount of hardcore bookworm proponents. Their argument? That they can identify the books by the color and condition of their well-worn pages.
One Instagram user added this thoughtful note:
"At first glance I, like others, thought this was silly and anti-book. Now that I'm looking at the image for longer I'm becoming more enticed by the idea of recognising my books by the colour of the fading of their pages, the way the paper has aged, and their shape. Like, looking at that shelf the variety in them is very clear. I wondered 'would I know my books back-to-front?' I think, for many old-friend books, I would, immediately. So I'm starting to think that for a small-ish collection of well-aged books that you know well, this might be nice."
The look, for all its controversy, is actually somewhat practical from a design perspective. First, it fits in with the monochromatic trend, offering a single color palette and cleaner overall look to your bookcase — great for someone who can't stand looking at a mismatched hodgepodge of book spines and bindings. Second, it's a nice antidote to the playful but no-longer-novel color-coordinated book spine look. And, finally, it just looks better in certain stylized contexts where rows of yellowed paper are a charming fit.
Like all design, it's a matter of opinion. To some, it might look dingy and impractical, while to someone else, it's clever, sensible, and ready for its #shelfie close-up. To help you decide whether this is a decor must do or must pass, we've rounded up a few backward book images ahead.