Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shelf Appeal

Double X's home decor blog notes a new trend:
I'll admit I own a few coffee table books that I've never even cracked, or books I bought at the flea market just for the cover and couldn't tell you the author or title. But the books I've really read and enjoyed over and over? Penguin paperbacks. An acutely observant editor friend noticed a recent trend in shelter mags in which decorators/stylists are turning books around on the shelves so you can't see the spines. So now we can add "book shame" to the list of subcategories to status anxiety!
The idea that you should not only hide the titles of your library from onlookers out of embarrassment but also actively undermine the books' utility (because how are you supposed to find a volume with the spines turned away?!?) to follow some decorating trend fills me with rage. If you are doing this, it means you don't really care about the books at all, or use them. So why do you have them at all? Because you like the look of stacked paper?

I respect people who are honest about their reading tastes. You know what a house full of pristine classics with unbroken spines or outdated federal reporters* says? You're boring and pretentious. And a shelf of pages with no visible titles says you're a cringing phony too lazy or stupid to even nod toward what a wall of books is for.

* One of the WORST things about How I Met Your Mother was the scene of the law student character studying for exams out of a federal freaking reporter. There is no reason to keep this sort of stuff unless you're an attorney without Westlaw access. And even then you're dancing on thin ice by basing your work product on potentially overruled case law.
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