Today I’d like to discuss something that I’ve randomly been wondering a lot lately: Why are books so aesthetically pleasing? Why do I feel the need to photograph them so much? Why can I spend so much time scrolling through bookstagram feeds and gazing at all of the beautiful bookish photos? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but here are a few of my thoughts.
Books are pretty?
Of course, the most obvious answer is that books are aesthetically pleasing because they are designed that way. People working in publishing and marketing spend oodles of time figuring out how best to portray a book visually so we’ll pick it up off the shelf and take it home with us. It should be no surprise that they are successful at reaching this goal; however, the kind of aesthetic quality I’m talking about goes beyond just the cover design. If we were just attracted to book covers, then why do I like looking at photos of random open books so much?
We own them?
In many cases, the books I’m photographing are my own. Does some part of me want to showcase them rather than just having them gather dust on my bookshelves? Perhaps. But I’m not convinced that this is the whole answer.
Seeing books motivates us to read more?
I think this statement is true, to some degree. Does scrolling through bookstagram make me want to read more? Yes. However, I don’t think that quite explains why we find books aesthetically pleasing. If motivation were behind it all, then I feel like book photos would be more anxiety-inducing than anything else–all that time that should be spent reading instead of looking at book photos!
They make us “feel” more like “readers”?
Maybe? Does taking bookish photos and sending them out into the universe via my bookstagram make me feel more bookish myself? Yes. However, in this digital age there’s a sense that one must participate in the online bookish community in order to be considered a reader, and that’s just not true. But maybe part of us is attracted to the idea that if we take and display photos of books and find them aesthetically pleasing, it somehow makes it harder to dispute the fact that we are “readers.”
They are the embodiment of bookishness.
I think this is maybe closer to a fuller answer. Books are the physical embodiment of all that is bookish (obviously). But it’s also more than that: they represent everything we love about reading, from getting lost in stories and strengthening our ability to empathize with others to learning more about the world around us (and sometimes about ourselves). Seeing books is comforting. Photos of books remind me of cozy nights reading in bed, long summers of reading by the lake, and discussing favorite books with my friends and family. So maybe it’s not just books that we find aesthetically pleasing–we’re also infatuated with what books stand for in our own lives.
So, in conclusion? I’m leaning towards my last point on this one, but I would love to hear your thoughts about it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little ramble of mine! Do you find books aesthetically pleasing? If so, why? What do you thinks of the points I’ve mentioned here? Let me know in the comments section below!