Really, It's Ok to Arrange Books By Color

Really, It's Ok to Arrange Books By Color

Andie Powers
Feb 13, 2014
(Image credit: from Jon & Tyke's Modern Cabin, photographed for Apartment Therapy by Laure Joliet)

Books arranged by color have always been a source of contention here on Apartment Therapy. No matter how stunning a home in a House Tour is, the comment section will inevitably explode with mentions (good and bad) of their color-arranged tomes.

Full disclosure: one of the centralized book shelves in our home is, in fact, arranged by color. They are not arranged in a rainbow gradient, as seen in this photo, but they are grouped by like colors. We like it. I've since read cries of sacrilege in the comments at Apartment Therapy — how could I possibly find anything on that shelf??

On Slate's The Eye, writer Kristin Hohenadel argues: "Let’s dispel the notion that everyone with a book collection needs a rigorous system to locate any given book at any given time in order to pull it from their shelf and pounce upon an important fact, passage, quote, or other tidbit that for some reason could not be Googled. Owning physical books was once an imperative for those who wanted knowledge and information at their fingertips, but the reflex to acquire, preserve and catalogue books is mostly grounded in a dated reality. And who’s to say that color isn’t a perfectly viable visual cue to help locate a book you want to revisit?"

I am a writer and a reader. My husband is a teacher, a writer and a reader. We love books. There are always ten to fifteen of them stacked on our nightstands at once. However, we both are able to "find" books more easily by their covers. We are design-minded, and see in aesthetics more than in analytics — I couldn't remember half of the authors of my books if you paid me! Therefore, I love the point that Hohenadel makes above — we don't live in a library, we live in a home. We know where our books are. In fact, my husband will get bored and spend hours rearranging them to be more aesthetically pleasing — by color!

Hohenadel goes on to say, "the book has always been as much a design object as a vehicle to enable the experience of reading. (In fact, publishers are fighting the physical book’s demise with a renewed effort to use innovative methods to make books into beautiful objects that we want to touch and hold.)"

So what do you say we move on from this argument? Instead of saying that a reader disrespects books by organizing them in a certain way, perhaps you could comment that you "wouldn't do that in my home!" Then, we can focus on the real issue at hand — who can find any book when it's turned backwards on a shelf?

To read the full article: Slate's The Eye.

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