This is a piece I’ve also shared on Medium…
I’ve gotta lift my book game.
I’m currently reading a paisley pink-covered novel, while wearing flower-patterned pants, a grey t-shirt, and black-and-blue checked flannel shirt. It’s a ghastly clash and, clearly, I’ll need to tear it all off and begin again before I venture out into the public. Starting with the book…
It’s true, I do usually dress like I’m about to paint a house, but I’m being tongue in cheek about how this pairs with the latest book I’m reading, after spotting headlines about model/celebrity sisters Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid.
Tucking books under their arms while strolling the street, they were the subject of this breathless story: “Bella and Gigi Hadid Make Books the Hot New Accessory of 2019”.
The NY Post said: “…like true supermodels, the gals know how to coordinate their outfits to their new brainy accessories … Bella has shared a photo of the cherry-red ‘Outsider’ book cover alongside a cherry-printed vintage Louis Vuitton bag…”
The Daily Edge observed that “the books they are reading were described with the type of detail normally reserved for the Balenciaga bum bags they wear or the latest celebrity they’re rumoured to be dating – both equally news-worthy topics.”
And InStyle pointed out that the headlines and commentary may be a little condescending and unwarranted, sharing tweets like: “the ‘models can’t read’ trope is very boring”. Indeed.
So I’m calming my farm; I won’t let frivolous headlines make me roll my eyes at the sisters. I can however, roll my eyes to the back of my head in relation to another book trend (a painful reversal that’s very similar).
It’s the trend of shelving books with the spines hidden, so all you have is a display of white and beige pages that won’t offend the rest of your room’s colour scheme. Like the women featured on many romance novels, the books have their backs to us.
I’ve commented on this online previously, having seen this fad shared via #bookstagram posts, but I won’t come close to the wonder of this scathing observation in Elle:
“Like sad, lonely decoupage, a shelf of inward-facing books offers the aesthetic of sandpaper. And all guests are left to blink at one another, rather than scanning the shelf and talking about the virtues of Virginia Woolf over John Green.”
For booklovers of course, shelving books backwards makes no sense if you actually want to be able to find a book in less than ten minutes, without being surrounded by piles of them on the floor every time – which actually would upset your home’s aesthetic.
Let’s call it for what it is: using books as a décor item only, in much the same way you might choose your pretty cushions, with not a single thought to what’s inside.
Still, I need to shed my house painting chic and put in more of an effort, before people begin worrying about me. I’m going to begin with these sneakers and work my way up from there…
Author and PR consultant.