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Book addicts are troubled by this new backwards book trend

When I saw a new trend on how to organise your bookshelf I gagged, did a double-take, and prayed. Hyperbolic yes, but this ‘trend’ involves the big brain move of turning your books around, so the spine faces backwards. Now, this is a bit ludicrous and rather defeats the purpose of a bookshelf, not to mention the poor pages are on full display to be attacked by the sun! The benefit of neutral uniformity gets ruined as the sun bleaches your pages.

What is the point of not showing the spines? Otherwise it is mostly a blob of white and off-yellow shades, unless you have the Gone series with the coloured edges which would throw off the uniform neutrality. From a practical standpoint, how would you even distinguish between your books? Memory or muscle-memory may help, but you have made it needlessly harder for yourself.

I personally order my bookshelves by author, probably a product of a much younger me pretending to be a librarian

It is hard enough to keep track of my collection without having them hiding from me. I have even resorted to a spreadsheet (yes, I am that sad) to keep tabs on my books. My memory may be good, but it is not that good – I can’t remember the place and shape of every book I own. Most of my books would not even look uniform when turned around: the joys of the musty yellow-brown pages of my explorations through second-hand bookshops.

I personally order my bookshelves by author, probably a product of a much younger me pretending to be a librarian. I have been unable to restrain my animal urges to buy books every time I see them and read books as if I have been starved of them, so my ordering system has collapsed as shelves have gone two deep, and plenty of books have found themselves languishing in boxes. I got berated a lot for having piles of books around my room, spilling off bookshelves. Though they were doing no favours for my allergies, it was still sad to clear them away. One day I wish to be able to order and display them all, and certainly not with their spines backwards.

Books in boxes is a sad sight, but to have them on the shelf and backwards would be both bland and inconvenient

I have a vast array of fiction and non-fiction: they helped me through my degree last year when we were still expected to do our degree whilst under the house-arrest of the first lockdown. They have helped a little this term, although even my collection has reached the end of its usefulness. If I had room to organise them it would certainly be easier to find things. Books in boxes is a sad sight, but to have them on the shelf and backwards would be both bland and inconvenient.

My collection has recently surpassed 900, no thanks to having to buy loads of books for my dissertation and other modules this year. It may well be time I reconsider my organisation. Space is the issue; a whole wall of shelves – a dream, a library, a fantasy. In any case not a single spine would face the wall. 

My alphabetical system worked until it didn’t, so now I am tempted to order them alphabetically within thematic groups. A fiction section, a history section, a section for politics, economics, philosophy, biographies and so on. That could be a fun summer project, although if we are to be granted our freedoms and life back in the coming months, maybe sorting my books out on my lonesome would be a tad sad. The books have been my sole loyal companions this past year, so I doubt they can be too needy for more attention.

I would also like to have a standalone bookshelf for some special books. Will and Ariel Durant’s masterpiece The Story of Civilisation, for example. They never finished it due to age; when Will was hospitalised, Ariel stopped eating then died, their daughter and grandchildren tried to hide Ariel’s death from him. He found out via the news and died a fortnight later.

To no one’s surprise I don’t like this ‘trend’; you can’t display your books, they become part of the paintwork. You lose the spine art, the title, and the ability to stare longingly at your books and let them remind you of better times and better places. For now, I am stuck with the problem of an addict, too many books, and with my other addiction – penguins – also vying for ever more room, my shelves may end up a warzone. But, it will be a warzone with no backwards books in sight.

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