• Judy

July 17, 2022: Backward Facing Books

Apparently, there is a new trend in home decorating in which books are shelved facing backward, so their spines are inside and all you see are the white pages. I began to see it a few years ago on some of those home decorating shows. I have even seen it in some home magazine layouts.


When digging into why, I have come across a couple of lines of thinking. One is that the colors or all the different book bindings can be jarring and it is much more soothing to be surrounded by shades of white. The other is that people will not be judged by their selection of books.


I want to go on record as saying- hogwash!


There is no way I will ever be convinced that this is an intelligent or efficient way to store your books on bookshelves.


If your choice of book is embarrassing, don’t get that book. Or at the very least, store it in a private place where no one else will ever see it. Closets and drawers work great for this. Problem solved. One of the most fun things is perusing friends’ bookshelves. Seeing what books they have collected and read can be great conversation starters and can lead to great recommendations of what to read next. Not to mention, it can help you to get to know people better. We rarely have friends over for dinner, who do not go home with some book borrowed from our shelves. And if you have the kind of friends who judge your book choices, get new friends. In general, people who are book lovers are also deep thinkers who enjoy diverse ideas and viewpoints. We also know that everyone’s tastes are, and should be, as unique and individual as are they.


In my mind, one of the best things about the pandemic and our shift to virtual and on-line gatherings, was that I got to get glimpses into the books that others had. When listening to an agent give a presentation on current publishing trends, I was not watching the presenter, but trying to read the titles of the books on shelves behind her. When part of a teacher symposium on-line, I was checking out the books stacked on the shelves behind our lead scholar. This was a wonderful way to expand my own to-be-read list as well as a glimpse into their personal and professional reading material.


How on earth can anyone find a book they may be looking for, if they are all facing backwards? This tells me that people who shelve their books backwards, are not true book lovers or readers. They are stagers. They want people to think that they are intelligent and read, so they get lots of books and shelve them backward. Because if you are a true book lover and reader, you will need to find that great book to share with a friend; or you will need to refer to a book in which you remember marking a page you wanted to come back and reread.


Especially with children, books should be interactive things that go on and off the shelves often. Reading, touching, rereading, holding, sharing. Whether it is my classroom bookshelves or the bookshelves in my granddaughters’ playroom here at our house, seeking a specific book is impossible when they are shelved backward. And if you are just perusing, looking for something to read, that is also impossible.


I concede that the visual of being surrounded by white can sometimes be more soothing than color. In that case, make sure all your books are not stored in your bedroom. Problem solved.


Yes, backward facing books do tell us something about the owner of them. They are not a true book lover or reader!




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