There’s a John Waters saying that if you go to someone’s house and they don’t own any books, don’t have a romantic encounter with them.
Well, if you go to someone’s house and they have turned all of their books BACKWARD on the shelf — RUN.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I envy you. To explain, this “trend” has so-called minimalists flipping their books, disguising their titles for a neutral block of dead tree.
Here’s one example.
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.
I thought it was a joke the first time I saw a backwards bookshelf online a couple months ago. But the atrocity continues to pop up today on Pinterest, Instagram, and lifestyle sites.
Flipping your books backward raises a couple questions. Do you not believe in re-reading, loaning, or conversing with house guests about your books? What are you hiding?
I have to assume that your bookshelf is woefully embarrassing, or, more likely, you've never read any of your books at all.
The main purpose of a bookshelf — other than storing novels — is to showcase your personality. It’s to keep things easily at hand for when we need to look up a fact or heart-gripping paragraph. The tradition of organizing our books spine-out . It’s worked for centuries; don’t fix what’s not broken.
For people who are strangers, exposed book titles can be conversation starters — or not. I once went home with a Tinder date who worked for Google. The only book he displayed in his room was a biography about the founder of Google, and had mentioned that his roommate also worked for Google?
I left knowing that the boy would never love me as much as he loved a search engine; the book, a tip: I dodged a boring plotline.
At this point, there are probably more posts arguing against backward books than there are touting the trend’s virtues.
So, let me lay down a physical threat to add some weight:
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.