Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves

Hello Pinterest, you inspirer and ruiner of dreams.  

Last night I sat on my couch and stared at the bookshelves across the room. I thought, “Those could probably look better.” The shelves with the McCullough biographies were a little crowded, and the audiobooks looked cluttery. The kids’ shelves have been in heavy use, and it shows. There are volumes that we’ve loaned out and stuck back when they’re returned.

So, you see — general bookshelf-ish clutter. I needed to straighten and love them a bit. As with many of my projects, I decided to inspire myself by heading over to your site, Pinterest, and see some pretty pictures.

I typed in “styled bookshelves.”

But here’s what I saw.

18 books

(18 books)



(30 books)

(30 books)


(22 books)

(22 books)


WHERE ARE ALL THE BOOKS?!  (Look, I even counted them for you. Not many, right?)

Let’s review. These are *BOOK*shelves we’re talking about, right? Not museum shelves? Look at that one with JUST a vase on one whole shelf! This is not my reality. There are no empty shelves to be had here.

I came across one blogger who said she had “so many” books to fit into her styled bookshelf, so she really had to plan. I counted again. There were TWENTY-ONE BOOKS on her gigantic shelf. Twenty-one whole books!



Then there was the picture with the books TURNED AROUND BACKWARDS so the spines faced in and the pages faced out. WHAT?! Yes. So all the pretty white pages match.

I guess people are picking their books now because they’re pretty? And it doesn’t matter what is inside them? (Here I am inexplicably hearing Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast” in my head. “How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”)



Here’s another trend I noticed that made me crazy. People organize their books BY COLOR?! What is this madness?! Who DOES that?! How can you find anything?!

Maybe you are spectacularly visually-minded and you can live that way. My chest gets tight just thinking about doing that. Plus I think we would have an overstock of blue books (like in the picture!) due to the amount of American history and theology in our library.

Deep breath. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having a place for my eye to rest. A framed photograph here and there, a vase, a well-chosen tchotchke — these all make a bookshelf more pleasing to the eye.

That’s the help I went looking for. What I found made me want to stage an intervention whilst overdramatically declaring the end of civilization as we know it.

So. Pinterest. This topic is officially off-limits between you and me. We will not speak of it again.

Because to be honest, Pinterest, I can’t think of many things more beautiful than these…


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(When I’m not ranting at Pinterest, I am pinning happily here.)

9 Responses to “Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves”

  1. allthoughtswork

    If a book is readily available at my local library, I don’t need it at home. Therefor, all my books fit on one shelf. Neener, neener.

    PS: I’ve heard that people actually buy books just for the jacket color to fill out their latest design projects. Nuckin’ futz.


  2. Helena Sorensen (@HelenaSorensen1)

    Yes. This is hysterical. Also, I’m glad to finally know how to spell tchotchke. Bookshelves with the spines turned backwards? Organized by color? Those shelves belong to people who do not actually read books. More’s the pity.


  3. Jen

    One of my friends pinned one of these “bookshelf” pictures yesterday, and I was trying to remember who wrote the blog post about it… it was you! This made me smile. Because I felt slightly grumpy when I saw that booklessshelf float through my Pinterest feed and almost left a mean comment. :O


  4. Jen

    Also, when I finally got a shipment of my books here, it was a fun time trying to fit them on our limited shelf space with Chris’ library. He declared we can’t buy more books for 5 years. That’s a funny joke. 😉


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