No matter the season, the place, the hour, I think that many of us like to indulge in a book when they have a little free time to relax and want to get lost in a story.
Since we were kids, everybody told us “not to judge a book by its cover”, both physically and metaphorically. But what about a person that chooses books for you like they are simple accessories and things that you can use to make up a persona and maintain your status quo?
I must admit that when I go to my hours-long visit to the local library, I tend to be more attracted to books that have a nice cover and page feeling. But another thing I do is not finishing a book when I’m not moved by the plot. So, when it comes to covers, it is more about choosing the better-looking edition rather than picking out something I won’t enjoy just for the sake of the aesthetic. I also don’t mind taking a walk with a book or newspaper in my hand, as I am a bookworm and big believer that reading and being aware of the times we live in is really sexy!
These issues were all discussed in an article of The New Yorker. The article claimed that, during the last years, many celebrities had hired a secret person to choose for them books that would have made them look cool, intellectual, and started going out with them under their arms, from grocery shopping to fashion shows, or posting pictures sunbathing while reading them. All of this seems to be done to boost the public image of them, in times where people are judged no more for just their beauty but also for the values they believe in, their taste in music, books, movies, art.
Many people were disgusted and angry: books are not just accessories, they are way better than a designer bag and can’t be treated like one. We must pay respect to books and the ones that wrote them: a book is like a piece of art, we must take care of intellectual activities in times were people are obsessed with influencers and have forgotten about what is really important in life.
On the other hand, some others said that: “Those who argue that an influencer holding books is bad for books are stupid. A book doesn’t suddenly become cheap because someone reads it. Then there’s the snark of, ‘Are these people even reading books, or are they just taking pictures with them?’ As someone who loves to read, I truly don’t care. The alternative to pretending to read books is just not reading them and not telling anyone else about them.”
My friend Bianca agrees with this second group: it does no harm to me if a celeb suggests people a book if it helps spreading love for books in their followers. Also, we should not judge someone for what they read, it only shows that we are insecure: being an essay or a young adult novel, what is important is that people get more and more in contact with books and libraries.
As, again, a books lover and philosophy student, I think this topic is interesting and there are a few things to point out:
- When seeing pictures of celebs, mostly female models and influencers, reading, saying that is it cheap and fake might come from our biased idea of famous people: why being a model or influencer should discredit your true interest about books? I think it is a big problem if we still see models as stupid bimbos who are not educated and can’t enjoy a classic novel or get interested in being informed through books and fighting for political causes such as feminism or racism.
- Where is the harm? Even if they are pretending, this is just about their dirty conscience, but it could be useful to their follower, who, inspired by their loved icons, could take up reading.
What we should reflect about is why people need a book influencer. Why can’t we keep going to our local library and ask the ones who work there if they have any book suggestions for us? If we need a stylist, maybe the focus is more on the way we look with a book, needing to judge it by its cover to look cool and “in palette”, rather than reading the book for the sake of the story it tells. This could be the depreciable part, the fact that people disrespect reading, the joy and knowledge that a book brings you, considering it just an accessory. Showing up, pretending you are someone you are not just ‘cause you think something would look cooler is the problem: faking for the sake of being socially accepted has nothing to do with books.
Last but not least, I think we should stop considering literature, cultural things in general like art, books, philosophy, as something that comes from a totally different planet than fashion.
The collab between books and fashion has been very popular recently.
Think about Etro’s fall 2022 men’s wear show: the designers, along with the invite to the show, issued a travel-size book published by Adelphi Edizioni, an Italian publishing house of classic books such as Milan Kundera and Friedrich Nietzsche, and the models showed the clothes while walking through Bocconi University in Milan with a book in hand. Or Kim Jones, that chose to make his debute at Dior’s men collection with clothes inspired by “On the road”, a famous book written in 1957 by Jack Kerouacs. Gucci, for his collection “Costellations”, used the love of Alessandro Michele for the writing of the philosophers Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt as a source of inspiration.
Maison likes Chanel and my beloved Prada, with its lovely Fondazione where we can always find interesting exhibits, have all been investing in podcasts, interviews and forums, covering a lot of topics from all disciplines, showing that fashion knows no border when it comes to knowledge.
Taking a little step back, I can’t help but mention that many celebs seem to be truly interested in books and information, like Dua Lipa with her super interesting “Service 95” serving us a podcast, a newsletter with a collection of articles and Instagram posts about social issues, or Emma Watson and Kaia Gerber, with their corresponding books clubs and interviews with authors.
And you, my lovely lettrici e lettori, what do you think about this: it is all just pretending? Should fashion and culture be kept separate? Or do you think it is time to link more and more different areas?
https://www.instagram.com/p/CYwMnIXKblT/?hl=it (link from Etro’s fashion show)