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Bookshelf wealth: An interior aesthetic that elevates your reading material

This expression refers to a trend in interior design that involves creating a sumptuous bookshelf that would make any lover of literature green with envy

Published: Jan 25, 2024 04:22:57 PM IST
Updated: Jan 25, 2024 04:28:29 PM IST

Bookshelf wealth: An interior aesthetic that elevates your reading material"Bookshelf wealth" enthusiasts are above all looking to give their interiors an intellectual touch. Image: Shutterstock

You might have thought that bookcases would disappear from our homes in the digital age. Yet they are more fashionable than ever. They even seem to be becoming a sign of affluence in their own right, as evidenced by the "bookshelf wealth" trend.

This expression refers to a trend in interior design that involves creating a sumptuous bookshelf that would make any lover of literature green with envy. This profusion of books must be curated and organized in such a way that it seems to follow a personal intuition, rather than yet another "trend" from social networks.

Bookcases inspired by this trend are timelessly chic, and devoid of any ostentatious signs of wealth. But the discerning eye will recognize cultural masterworks or highbrow tomes among the shelves of books. Candles, ceramics and other designer knickknacks also have their place on the shelves, provided they blend in with the books.

Because, 'bookshelf wealth' enthusiasts are, above all, looking to give their interiors an intellectual touch. Their bookshelves reflect their love of literature and, by extension, their good taste. That's why they don't hesitate to post them on social networks, particularly on TikTok, where the hashtag #bookshelfwealth has racked up 3.8 billion views.

Unsurprisingly, it was on the Chinese platform that this expression first appeared. While it's hard to know who coined it, the designer Kailee Blalock (@houseofhive) defines it in a video viewed more than a billion times since it was posted on TikTok on December 24. "Bookshelf wealth is a whole home vibe .... So, obviously there's books, but the difference is that these aren't display books, these are books that have actually been curated and read," she explains.

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Could commodifying books help promote reading?

Her comments prompted a number of reactions on the platform, with some internet users taking issue with the bourgeois aesthetic that this interior design trend is inspired by. "It's so bothersome that this is associated with any kind of 'wealth', when it's really just liking your books and paintings," reads one comment below Ms. Blalock's video. Another TikTok user laments that this aesthetic "commodifies" reading.

In general, social media users worry that this trend gives an elitist vision of reading, at the risk of putting some people off this pastime. They also wonder about the motivations of those who adopt it. Should the refined organization of someone's bookcase be seen as a desire to display their cultural capital and, therefore, to stand out from the crowd? The debate is ongoing.

However, the "bookshelf wealth" trend has the advantage of celebrating books and, by extension, reading, at a time when many worry that this activity is being abandoned in favor of screens. By becoming a cool accessory, books could potentially reach a wider audience.