Why are books so aesthetically pleasing?

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!




15 responses to “Why are books so aesthetically pleasing?”

  1. very interesting question! The item in itself feels nice. I know lots of people, I’m part of them, love boxes (why is another question!!). Maybe it looks like a box? especially big fat books, lol! The cover is only partially part of it. Incidentally, sometimes, the choice of cover is absolutely awful. I have had to read books for tours or other. They ended up being awesome books, but if I had judged on the cover, I would have fled from it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely agree–the cover is only part of it! And lol your point about chunky books is hilarious and true 🙂


  2. I think I’m one of those odd-person-out types who doesn’t necessarily enjoy looking at pictures of books. A good quote is more likely to make me read a book than a picture of one. However, I do tend to notice and enjoy the elements around a book. For instance, I love the sparkler in the picture above, and appreciate and enjoy the close, medium, and distant perspectives in the photo of the woman (you?) in the pink tank top. In that image, I can’t even see what the book title is — so that is telling to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed!! Sometimes it’s definitely more about the photo overall than the book itself in the photo 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Why are books so aesthetically pleasing? — Nut Free Nerd […]


  4. I think it’s the last one. I’m generally not infatuated by pictures of books themselves, but the ones that I love or really want to read… that’s another story. The picture of the books we love represent the characters and worlds within, and that’s what makes them pleasing, IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The picture of the books we love represent the characters and worlds within” ❤ So eloquently put!! I completely agree!!


  5. ahh, this was an amazing post, and I love that you dissected this topic so well! I think what really makes book so aesthetically pleasing is the fact that publishing houses know their audience. like even though I may not want to read a book persay, most covers are distinct in my mind, and I will forget a book title first before I forget the idea of what the cover looks like!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is SUCH a good point!! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are entire hordes of people behind book cover designs–they definitely know what they’re doing! 🙂


  6. Sophiemagsblog Avatar

    I am so much more dedicated to read when I actually own the book rather than on a tablet, it becomes such an inconic item when you own it! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! Probably part of the reason I’ve never really been one to read many ebooks 🙂


  7. I wonder if people who DON’T read very much still find them pleasing? I would say probably, based on how my not-much-of-a-reader boyfriend can wander around the bookstore and entertain himself for a while looking at everything while I scour blurbs and stands. I also keep coming back to the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” They must be universally pleasing, to have such a universally understood phrase?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a great point! Yeah I definitely agree, I think to some degree they are universally pleasing–although maybe not to the bookstagram extent haha 🙂 Thanks for commenting!


  8. […] @ Nut Free Nerd asked a very daunting question: Why are books so aesthetically pleasing? And then totally delivered on the […]


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