One of the best parts of spring is how color starts coming back into the world. As the snow melts, tiny purple crocus pop up in chilly flower beds and clouds pull back to reveal the blue-at-last sky. Grass and the buds of new leaves bring the entire spectrum of green, and spring bulbs the rest of the rainbow. But it’s starting to feel like spring will never arrive in Utah! Here’s a list of books about color to tide you over through this interminable winter we’re having.

The Brilliant History of Color in Art

By Victoria Finlay
Adult Nonfiction

Using art from around the world and from prehistoric times to the present, Finlay’s book explores how the colored pigments artists use have impacted not only art but human civilization. This beautiful book uses full-color reproductions of art throughout time to illustrate this fascinating interaction. 

Blue: In Search of Nature’s Rarest Color

By Kai Kupferschmidt
Adult Nonfiction

This gorgeous book—its pages are gilded blue, and the full-color pages that mark the start of each chapter are a rich, speckled blue—explores where and why we can find blue in the natural world. It uses clearly-explained scientific principles to teach readers about how we perceive the color blue.

The World According to Color: A Cultural History

By James Fox
Adult Nonfiction

“It is a defining trait of our species to produce and pursue meaning,” historian James Fox writes in The World According to Color, and that is the thesis that guides the book. What meaning have cultures throughout time and across many different human industries ascribed to color? What do those meanings reveal about our cultures? The chapters in this book each focus on a specific color, using a combined scientific, artistic, and historical approach to create an immersive study of what color mean to humans.

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as The Sea and as Wide as The Sky

By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Junior Nonfiction 

Beginning with the ancient Egyptians, who were the first to make blue out of lapis lazuli, and moving through time to the invention of a chemical blue dye, this gorgeously-illustrated children’s book tells the story of the social and historical impact the production of blue dye has had on the world.

Color: Messages and Meaning

By Leatrice Eisemann
Adult Nonfiction

With an eye towards marketing, this book looks at how color influences emotions and thus behaviors. It includes a library of Pantone color combinations that evoke different moods.

Black: The History of a Color and White: The History of a Color

By Michel Pastoureau
Adult Nonfiction

Focusing on European history and art, the celebrated French historian examines colors thematically. These two books, each focusing on a different color, are formal, expansive studies of art history in relation to cultural changes throughout human history. 

Pink Flamingos and The Yellow Pages The Surprising Stories Behind the Colors of Our World

By Bob Hambly
Adult Nonfiction

Why are smiley faces yellow? Why do Buddhist monks wear orange robes? What exactly is “purple prose”? This fun and energetic book tells the cultural stories of phrases, movements, and philosophies that interact with color.

The Secret Lives of Color

By Kassia St. Clair
Adult Nonfiction

In her rainbow-hued book (the edges of the pages correspond to the colors the text discusses), Kassia St. Clair tells the story of 75 different named hues and shades of color. Art, war, politics, medicine, fashion, literature, music: color impacts all human endeavors in surprising ways, and this book explores a myriad of them with sensory pleasure.

Written by Amy, Assistant Librarian

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