Home Decorating Tips for the Trend-Conscious Bookpocalypse Participant

Oh my stars and garters. Batten down the hatches! Bid your loved ones farewell! You’d better find your pearls and start clutching, because winter is coming and the New York Times has identified a horrifying new trend.

On Sunday, Mireille Silcoff reported:

In the sparse, expensive condo, the books were arranged according to color. In the pink zone, there were old sociology textbooks next to “Confessions of a Shopaholic”; in black, it was the dog whisperer Cesar Millan next to Conrad Black’s biography of F.D.R. I imagined the couple, dressed in matching peg-legged trousers and skinny Merino whatnot, taking the day to shelve their books: Isaac Asimov rubs dust covers with a Kevyn Aucoin makeup manual; Naomi Wolf with Fodor’s Panama. Once done, the couple have a glass of wine to celebrate their installation; their installation to installation.

“Do you know, honey, what books I really want to get into now?” one says to the other. “Purple.”

You read correctly: books are being used as decorative objects. Or, as the  judiciously titled piece put it, “On Their Death Bed, Physical Books Have Finally Become Sexy.” (Yes, really.)

Disturbing as this news surely is, if there’s sexy dancing to be had somewhere — even atop the grave of print media  we probably ought to at least make an appearance, no? Also: books are the best, anywhere and everywhere. So with that in mind, here are some home decorating tips for every boi, woman, and lesbian cyborg vampire wanting to stay on-trend during the upcoming bookpocalypse.

 The Casual Color Match

Stack of books next to a matching flower arrangement, a bottle of wine, and two wine glasses.

Oh hello! You have a colorful floral arrangement and/or other decorative accessories with colors? Well books have colors too! Match that shit.

 Coffee Table Short Stack

Sex books on a coffee tableFeeling tentative about taking on this bold trend of having and displaying books around your home? The coffee table is a traditional location for books as aesthetic objects, and is a great place to start your first stack. Subtly theming the collection demonstrates intellectual prowess and can aid in stimulating conversation.

A Room of One’s Own

books on the back of a toilet

Did you know that there is a horizontal surface at the back of your toilet? BOOM. A stack of books on the back of your toilet provides a cute place to discreetly hide your feminine products — or proudly display them!

 The Doggie Butler

dog with books on its head

Image courtesy of Liz Settoducato

Dogs are cute. Books are cuter. You know what to do.

 High Contrast

books on TV

Pro tip: When making decorative book placements, it can be helpful to think in terms of contrast. Here, for example, we have the juxtaposition of print vs. the thing that’s killing it; heavy subject matter vs light. And the nice thing is, if you change the channel, you can always swap your books out to match!

Shelf Life

books in a fridgeConcerned what others might think when they see your nearly empty fridge, filled only with takeout leftovers and a million different types of cheese? Distract them with pretty, pretty books!

Book Fort

Ellen Page in a book fort

Very important photojournalism by Liz Settoducato

I challenge you to find a location in your home that would not be made better with a stack of books and/or an Ellen Page book fort.

Where will you be when the bookpocalypse hits? Please share your own decorating tips and survival plans below.

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. At least arranging by color isn’t as bad as the turning-books-into-clocks DIY trend. “Oooo sweetie, can we afford this first edition of Fahrenheit 451? We really need a clock for the guest bedroom! And don’t you think this vintage set of the Encyclopedia Britannica would make a great storage box?”

  2. I’ve been voraciously consuming articles about apartment decorating lately and one “tip” that one website had was TURNING THE BOOKS AROUND FOR A MINIMALIST APPROACH. As in, turning all of the books around so that the pages, and not the spine, were showing. I kind of wanted to throw up.

    • But… how are you supposed to impress chicks with your impeccable taste if the evidence is facing the wall? This seems like very foolish advice.

    • Spine-in shelving is actually a really old (medieval/renaissance) method of book shelving; the books, which were extremely valuable, were chained to the shelf by a chain attached to the spine, and shelved spine-in so the books could be removed to a nearby reading table without getting the chain tangled around the book. I guess there weren’t many books so finding the one you wanted wasn’t really an issue.

      Shelving contemporary books spine-in sounds…inconvenient. How would you find things? I couldn’t agree less, but I’ve heard people say that book shelves are unattractive because all the book covers are different colors and sizes, so they look ‘untidy.’ I think the ideal home decoration is walls covered in books, ideally looking well used and a little messy, but different things for different people, etc.

    • I was just going to say!

      Don’t know about decorating with books, but that sure is a mighty fine stack of reads you got there, young lady.

      Well of loneliness multiple times, yaaay.

  3. I think I need to incorporate the High Contrast style in my home. If I can create a frame which would make those books accessible, I love the possibilities for displaying some of my favorite titles.

    As a suggestions, what about books as seating? You know all those text books you have lying around 10 years or so after you graduated college that you don’t want to throw out cause they’re interesting reference material that you like skimming through every year or so? Stack them up with a cute pillow and you’ve got yourself some party seating!

  4. Some people put books on side tables, I make a side table out of books so I have somewhere to put my glass of Malbec. Always keep a cheap book jacket on the top book for spills. I have an indestructible hardcover copy of “Of Human Bondage” that does the trick for me. Minimalist wire framing keeps the stack intact during dog visits and earthquakes.

  5. I love the pearl-clutching, but the NYT clearly is not as cultured as it thinks it is. Books-as-decor have been around since forever. I mean, check out Madame Bovary – Charles Bovary has a bunch of volumes of the medical dictionary in his office. He’s never read them; they’re just there for show. Or what about even earlier, when books were actual art objects (illuminated texts, anyone?)?

    • We need to find a doctor who knows nothing about literature to display every edition of Madame Bovary in their office.

  6. Some of these are probably still more intuitive/useful for actually finding books I want to read than my current method which is: books! Books everywhere! In every bag, on every surface, under every thing that has an under, behind everything that has a behind! I can never find the books I’m looking for because they are too busy checking out my furnitures’ asses.

    Also this is the funnest article. <3

  7. Books are great to read AND beautiful to look at! If you doubt that, check out one of my favourite websites: http://www.bookshelfporn.com.

    Books take up a LOT of room. Instead of hiding them away in boxes and closets, put them out where people can SEE them! No room for bookshelves because you have too much artwork on your walls? Screw the artwork – books can be art too!

    Now, that being said, books aren’t JUST artwork. They are meant to be read. And the colour-coordination thing would drive my OCD absolutely batshit. But I have no problem with books being BOTH useful and decorative.

  8. This is great advice, Laura.
    I liked the toilet book stack and the tv and books art installation the most, especially the dinosaur diorama in the bell jar in the toilet. There’s a story there.

    Some of my favourite book decorating tips:

    For that gloomy intellectual bedsit chronically depressed décor, stack your books up against the sunniest windows and block out that chirpy winter sun.

    So much money that you don’t know what to spend it on next? Buy Leonardo Da Vinci’s plentiful notebooks from Sotheby’s and use them as firewood for the leather chair by the firehearth in the library reading nook or, by the brazier/chiminea on the patio/deck overlooking the desert/forest at your country second home. Feeling the cold? Throw the original Websters Dictionary on the fire, that’ll warm you!

    Books don’t have to be read, that’s too literal. They have manifold other uses too.

    Door stops
    Stacked to create impromptu seats for unexpected guests
    Toilet paper for those occasions when time runs out
    Wiping up kitchen messes.
    Cleaning windows.
    Paper planes and kites.

    So many uses and so little time. Have fun, friends.

  9. hey, malinda lo! an excellent addition to any stack of decorative books.

    ps: this is what my whole room/house looks like forever and ever

  10. I know this article was taking the piss but I genuinely used books for a Christmas tree one time. I was feeling the atheist/intellectual holiday vibe but still wanted some decoration in my room so I used my entire classics and YA fiction collection to make a cone shape and threw some lights around it. The act of building the tree allowed me to rediscover some of the books that had been on my shelf for an age and the tree allowed me to celebrate my true religion (literature).

    Loving that Camp Takota was the screen for the TV in this :p

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