My TBR Rainbow

Having lost a lot of posts and comments when I moved webhosts, I’m reblogging them, grouping together sometimes. Thus, seven of my TBR Rainbow posts have been combined and edited into just one below. This series originally ran between mid-March and the end of May.

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This morning while sitting in bed reading (with cat, naturellement), I glanced over towards the shelves and piles of books in the corner of my room that constitute just part of my TBR mountain range.  I saw a rainbow of spines and thought a travel through the visible colour spectrum might be a fun weekend thing to do (note how I built in a scientific reference! 🙂  )…

My TBR Rainbow #1: Red

P1030759 (791x1280)Hence the first in a series of posts of my TBR rainbow starting with red. This was easy.

Note I deliberately only picked out two Vintage reissues – I could have done a pile three feet high if I’d systematically picked out all of their red spines – although I note that even the Vintage red varies a little in brightness and hue; I presume it is a batch/different printer thing?

Anyway, it took me only a minute or two to assemble this pile – there are a lot of red-spined books. I do want to read them all eventually, but if you’d like to suggest which should top my rainbow reading pile, feel free.

Next time, it may be more difficult – orange – and as here, I shall limit myself to a representative couple of Penguins.

My TBR Rainbow #2: Orange

P1030766 (960x1280)Thank you all for your great response to my post in which I covered a selection of books with red spines from my TBR. As Rebecca suggested, I’ve added Gorsky to my bedside reading pile alongside The Chateau – I won a set of William Maxwell reprints from Vintage last year and this is the one that I shall start with. I loved Brian’s question whether the red spines had anything in common, I didn’t think there was anything, until I realised that none of them were crime novels – too much red blood in the pages perhaps?

But onwards! Let’s look at some orange spines. Obviously, I could have built up a very tall pile of old Penguins, but picked a representative sample. I did have to venture into my guest bedroom and its wall of shelves for some of these, whereas the red ones all came from my bedroom bookcases. There are fewer orange hardbacks though – those below were the only ones I found. Orange, even within the Penguins seems to have more variation than the reds – some more burnt orange, some peachy.  I’m having great fun with this!

My TBR Rainbow #3: Yellow

P1030776 (960x1280)It’s the third stop on my rainbow tour of my TBR.

One of the commenters on the red pile, wondered how many yellow books I’d find. I took that as a challenge!

At first glance you can see there is more colour variation in yellow, going from the acid sulphur hue of Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard to the rich egg-yolk yellow of the Katerina Bivald near the bottom of the pile. However, despite those examples, richness of hue doesn’t seem to correlate with cosiness of novel at all – there are no common rules – except that pastel/sorbet/primrose yellows don’t feature at all… it’s gradations of sulphur or egg-yolk all the way.

Where we had red Vintage classics and orange Penguins, there are no series of yellow books to be represented.


My TBR Rainbow #4: Green

P1030807 (602x1024)We’re going green today.

There is a much larger range of hues in the green spines of my TBR piles, than previous colours. Not least in the representatives of the two major imprints – from the mint of the 1990s era Penguin Modern Classics to the bottle-green of Virago Modern Classics. In between we have shades of lime, apple, grass, leaf, emerald and olive.

Naturally, green is a popular spine colour for books mentioning gardens or nature topics. I was surprised that Sara Crowe’s debut novel wasn’t – well – campari pink coloured, and I couldn’t find any YA books with green spines.

Otherwise we have a wide variety of fiction types and several non-fiction books in the mix.


My TBR Rainbow #5: Blue

P1030833 (960x1280)I’ve gone blue today – light blue, from sky blue to a mid turquoise via eau de nil. I’ll be classifying the darker blues as indigo next time.

There is one series of books with Turquoise spines – Pelicans – but I didn’t have any unread ones to add to this pile, as it’s all about the TBR. Paler blues seem to be a popular colour for SF&F and life’s big issues in adult and YA spheres; there are few crime novels with blue spines – the Barry Maitland being the only one I found.

I will be reading Spies soon, as it’s one of Juliet’s set books for GCSE, but as always if there are any books here you’ve loved – do let me know and I’ll promote them up the pile to read sooner.


My TBR Rainbow #6: Indigo

P1030841 (597x1024)Indigo – which, for the purposes of this exercise, I’ve gone from the darker side of mid-blue through navy was possibly the hardest colour to build a pile of books for.

I have no series of books with indigo spines, but although there aren’t so many titles in this pile, it does cover a wide range of genres – from modern classics, to spies, from crime to YA and SF.

The one that stands out to me is The Matisse Stories by A.S. Byatt with its spine of that blue favoured by the artist in his cut-outs:

Matisse: Blue Nude I, II, III, IV


My TBR Rainbow #7: Violet

TP1030862 (610x1024)his may be the last division of colour in the normal rainbow, but don’t worry, for those who are not fed up of my piles of unread books – I’ll be carrying on this feature with some of the in-between shades!

Looking for the ‘violet’ books was fun, there aren’t many of them on my shelves, but there is a rich variety in hue – going from blueish pale lavender, to proper mauve and Imperial purple via the more winey purples.

Ironically, I have a non-fiction book called ‘Mauve’ by Simon Garfield – all about the scientific discovery of aniline dyes – the first synthetic colours – and its spine is not mauve!

And here’s the entire rainbow…

TBR Rainbow

After completing the conventional rainbow, I decided to add occasional in between hues

My TBR Rainbow #8: Pink

P1030883 (768x1024)Sadly, I’ve lost my original text, but as always there is a rich variety in shades of pink from the most delicate barely there British rose to the brightest shocking pink. There appear to be no rules for pink – Viv Albertine’s memoir being pale, and Lark Rise being deepest fuchsia, almost purple, the opposites to expectation, whereas The Pink Suit is a little deeper perhaps than Jackie Kennedy’s Chanel number.

More colours to follow!

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