If you want to learn a lot about a person, look at what’s on their bookshelves. It became everyone’s favorite quarantine pastime as they watched celebrity interviews conducted via Zoom, as people tried to read into what each book and trinket meant. (“The Catcher in the Rye and every play Shakespeare wrote? Must be a fan of…required reading.”)
But what’s the deal when a person’s books are all facing with their pages exposed, spines turned toward the wall? It creates a neutral, minimalist look—and it’s a surefire way to rile up bibliophiles. In fact, people have debated whether this look is aesthetically pleasing (or straight-up blasphemy) since 2017, when it was first heralded as a controversial new design trend. But the real story behind this trend is that it wasn’t supposed to be a trend at all; it’s a TV show secret that trickled into the mainstream.