Books are a reflection of your personal interests. They provide a story about you - the choice of genre you choose to relax , entertaining , diets, sport, cars , lifestyle, pregnancy, young toddlers and so much more.
I am an avid collector of coffee table/lifestyle books however one must be mindful that books can add enormous clutter to your home. If they are streamlined then they can create a stylish, warm atmosphere. An inappropriate display looks like a 2nd hand book sale. Paper backed books, cookbooks, and pregnancy/toddlers guides should be in a special cupboard (preferably with no glass)
Hard backed books, single brand of magazine stacks are the ones to display.
Many living in Singapore are in rental properties and are unable to consider built-ins. Simple bookshelves or single modular shelves on the wall are all viable options for display. Make them more interesting by adding mirror to the back panel. Paint the back panel a different colour. It provides an instant update and makes your bookcase look like a custom piece even if it isn't. Another option to provide the same effect is to add wallpaper to the back panel.
If your a home owner with built ins, ensure bookcase are properly lit either by halogens in the roof of the bookcase or place picture lights on the front pelmet and ensure they have dimmers.
To prevent book displays from becoming busy, stick to 1 -2 colours ( including objects) to make them pop. For example group books with black spines and add white objects or flowers. Create some vertical groupings but also have some books laying flat with the bindings/titles showing.
Books of similar heights need to be grouped together. Too often you see random books stuck in or objects that clearly couldn't find a home somewhere else in the house and they destroy the balance of the display.
Art/Picture frame are a must. I am a big fan of hanging artwork in the middle of a bookcase to create a layering effect.
Natural - Add a potted plant, flowers in a ceramic pot (not glass) or something tropical - faux coral or an oversized nautilus shell on the top of stack of books.