booksColor Day

Color Day 2013: Our Favorite Color Books

by Grace Bonney

I was blown away by all of the research Amy did to prepare for this month’s daily color facts. In addition to learning all sorts of amazing facts (I didn’t know that monks in Thailand dye their robes with the heart of the jack fruit once a year!), Amy exposed us to an incredible range of books that share the fascinating world of color history. While we’ll be sharing our favorite facts here every day, we wanted to share these books in case you were interested in delving deeper in the history of colors. Amy says that the most helpful book, by far, was by Victoria Finlay. Who could pass up the chance to learn things like where the expression “feeling blue” truly comes from? xo, grace

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Image above: , , , Black: The History of a Color

Suggested For You


  • Have you read The Color Revolution by Regina Lee Blaszczyk ? Probably the best book I’ve read in the last two years. A fantastic history both of the technical development of color in paints and dyes and of color professionals. Who knew, that set designers and landscape painters were drafted to be camoufleurs in both world wars and that some of them went on to use their knowledge of camouflage in product design (for example, to make big hulking cars cars look sleek and speedy)?

  • I second Amy on Victoria Finlay’s book. It is especially good when you get into the blues, reds, and greens. Power through the brown, black, white, ochre.

  • I’m a high school art teacher, and I just went over the history of the colors (using the book Color: The natural history of the color palette). It was such a fun unit, and I loved getting to know some of the fascinating processes and supplies behind colors. I was so delighted to see this post series show up, that I shared it with my class. They thought it was great that someone else was learning about this….and of course the majority chose Cochineal Red as the most fascinating color. Thanks for sharing!

  • I LOVED Victoria Finlay’s “Color.” However, I was really disappointed by “A Perfect Red.” I think “Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World” should be added to this list with the caveat that the writing isn’t as good as Victoria Finlay’s but the subject matter is wonderful.

  • Thank you for the post.

    However, haven’t you heard of Michel Pastoureau? He’s one of the most well-known writer and researcher about colors, symbolism and History.

  • I have the opposite opinion to Erin here. I HATED Victoria Finlay’s ‘Color’. In fact it infuriated me so much I threw it across the room several times. Too much fantastical story telling and guesswork and nowhere near enough fact for me. All fluff and barely any substance. I LOVED Amy Butler Greenfield’s ‘A Perfect Red’. It was just the right amount of storytelling with so much wonderfully researched factual information. I wish she would write a book on every color.

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