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Roy G Biv

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Color is all around us every day. We use it to interpret the world-red means stop, blue means water, orange means construction. But it is also written into our metaphors, of speech and thought alike: yellow means cowardice; green means envy-unless you're in Germany, where yellow means envy, and you can be “beat up green and yellow.”

Jude Stewart, a design expert and writer,
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published September 26th 2013 by Adams Media (first published September 17th 2013)
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  247 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Jude Stewart
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Caveat: I read it because I also wrote it!
Oct 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
I had a similar experience to GoodReads user "Starry," see his/her review from Oct 2013.

This book was a major disappointment on multiple levels.
1. The formatting, editing, and graphic design was some of the most sloppy work I've seen in a long time. Too-tiny font, all kinds of typos, errors in cross-references, and inconsistent design choices are just a few of the pet peeves I encountered.

2. In addition to the typos and noticeable formatting flops, I also found a few "facts" that were incorrect.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, art
Really a book of color related trivia, ROY G. BIV is fun in a coffee table, pick it up when you like sort of way. It isn't necessarily meant to be read straight through, though it won't hurt your enjoyment if you do. There were a few things that kept me from completely enjoying it, though. For one, the type is awfully small. I know that it's a small point overall, but I would have much preferred slightly larger type. There's also an awful lot of underlined text, which lead to notes in the margin ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic
This book was very cleverly designed to use color and in-line “links” to other parts of the book to make it a non-linear reading experience. Visually it was a very interesting book to interact with, and it contains a wealth of facts about colors, even imaginary colors! But it didn’t really keep my attention. I felt that after a while of bopping back and forth to follow the trails, it was all pretty superficial infotainment.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is beautifully -- almost poetically -- written and full of interesting factoids about color. The format is unusual. In fact, the book is as much formatting as it is about content. Chapters are arranged by color, and each is introduced with an intrigue-building block diagram that overviews its content. Within a chapter, each topic is only 1-2 paragraphs in length, with certain phrases underlined in color to direct the reader to related material "advertised" in the side margins. Chapters ...more
Kait Mannino
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An intriguing blend of Eric Carle and House of Leaves.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting little book on colour, and some of the historical and cultural meanings of different colours/pigments etc..
But I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the type was a little small!
I thought it was just me and me aging eyeballs!

Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book with countless divertissement on color and history. A real joy to read.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Hugely disappointing. The introduction alone is so full of errors and misinformation that this text should never have made it to print.
Robin Gardner
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: roygbiv
Would rate slightly higher if the distracting side margin notes weren't there. Otherwise, neat tidbit of a book. ...more
Patrick Spiegelman
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A gem of a book. Jude Stewart basically use one of culture's greatest "commons"—color—to radically re-invent the genre of the commonplace book, that volume of idiosyncratic, idiosyncratically compiled knowledge par excellence. The knowledge here is perfectly proverbial, a vast expanse of fact, anecdote, legend, myth, and wish from countless cultures and epochs. It's the kind of knowledge which, regardless of time and place, tries to pin down otherwise slippery and unknowable phenomena: how a col ...more
I've read two different books dealing with color over the past few months - this one and The Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, & Violet by Arielle and Joann Eckstut.
I don't remember how I found Stewart's book, but the Eckstuts' was featured on NPR's Morning Edition back in early November. I checked both out of the local library - I'd recommend reading the dead tree version vs an ebook, unless you have a color tablet (would be
Am Y
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Despite the miniscule font (ouch, my eyes!), I couldn't quite hate this book. Here's why:

1) Creative presentation format
There's a sort of mindmap at the beginning of each chapter, whose points are then expanded upon within. Then in the actual text itself, certain words are underlined (just the way you'd find in a webpage - in colour too), and at the side of the page you can find extra "notes" related to those words. The notes either give you more info on the spot, or direct you to certain other
Dec 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
Never judge a book by its cover color.

I bought ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color because I really liked the look of it and since I find color theory interesting I was sure that I was going to like the book. Oh, how wrong I was.
Unfortunately it turned out to be hard to read. Partly due to the infinitely small font (come on, I am only 32 years old and was squinting at the text like an 80 year old) and the shallow factoids. Some stories would be interesting to read more about
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
ARC from Netgalley

Lots in interesting factoids about color, some of them familiar while others were new to me. The layout of the book is graphic and vivid which is good, but the sometimes-eye-searing vibrancy of the colors (on my computer screen) and the habit of referencing related facts from a different color group (usually by way of demonstrating cultural differences) was disorienting and, at times, confusing. This was probably made worse because I was reading this ARC electronically which ma
Christine Rebbert
I expected to LOVE this book, because I have always been a big fan of "color"; I interact with color in my card-making and I tend to describe things in either than Crayola or Stampin' Up color names, not just plain old "red" or "blue". The idea of the book is great -- how color varies in different cultures and over time; each chapter deals with one particular of the ROY G BIV colors, plus other "special" colors outside of the rainbow like pink, brown, gray, black, and white. I have picked up and ...more
Jennifer Sundt
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
A pleasant ride into the history of color. At first I thought it would be too dry of a read for me to handle, but it wasn't. Jude Stewart has a great wit, so the read ended up being quick and painless.

After a while, however, her color-coded footnotes - really references to other parts of the book - became a little annoying, because as I completed more and more of the book, the references were increasingly already ones I'd read. And, the author assuming you wouldn't necessarily read in a linear f
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I have a fetish for color, so I was pleased to learn curious new (to me) anecdotes and facts from this book.

But from a design perspective, each page was trying to hard to be an internet page with "hyperlink" sidebars--a book is a book, so it was a little silly to have static "links" that ultimately repeated themselves. Better to just have sidebars with information once rather than chasing each "link" repetitively throughout the book, with the result of scattering concentration on the body text,
Emma Bell
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A very interesting book. I feel like I learned a lot of trivia, but I have two issues. One, it needed to be at least twice as long. While I was reading, I kept picking up my iPhone to consult Wikipedia and find out more about the shorter blurbs. I suppose you could view this as a good thing, as the book definitely inspired me to seek out more knowledge, but i would've appreciated more depth of information. Secondly, I found the page references on the side of each page to be very repetitive and I ...more
Margaret Sankey
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I am always collecting interesting bits, so this book about the cultural history of colors grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, it was mostly a rehash of books I had already read, like Michael Pastoreau's French-language books on Black and Blue, outfitted with graphics that are trying very hard to be clever and repetitive and irritating cross-references in the sidebars. The highlight for me are the language phrases about color, like the German "making blue" for taking a day off, which make absol ...more
Skylar Primm
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
My mother loaned me this book after her book club read it, and it took me a few months to force myself to finish it. There is interesting information sprinkled throughout the book, but it reads to me like nothing so much as a collection of brief, unfinished Wikipedia articles. Any time I started to think a factoid was interesting, the author moved on to something else.

As a reference book or starting point for research into a color, this book has value. As something to read straight through, not
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was so hoping and expecting to love this book and it fell short. I was expecting a postmodern text that was culturally, philosophically, ethically, or textually challenging, but found that ROY G. BIV was not intended to serve that purpose. And so, naturally, I was disappointed. You will most certainly enjoy this read if you are looking for an encyclopedic coffee table book that enlightens you in the area of particular colors and their cultural and historical significance.
Gracie Guagenti
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
An informational text about color. Colors are broken down in each "chapter" of this book. It would be good in an art class for older students. A teacher could use this book to read excerpts aloud, but it is far too lengthy for anything other than a reference. I liked the excerpt about "What rhymes with purple" where the author tells the reader how Orange and Silver have no rhymes in natural English...but Purple actually has two. ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fun little romp through the rainbow with a smorgasborg of tasty tidbits about the world of color. Not very in depth, but it doesn't pretend to be. All sorts of interesting trivia in an unusual cross referenced format. A quick read, the sort of thing you can put down for the slightest distraction and pick back up without losing your train of thought. The author has a pleasant conversational tone that's crisp and clear and consistent throughout. ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book reads better as a reference rather than a straight up nonfiction work. It is full of fascinating facts about color and the history of the meanings of various colors. It would probably drive linear thinkers nuts, though, because the info is cross referenced back and forth throughout the book. I think it is great.
Krzysztof Mathews
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Fun and interesting in places, but it read more as a sort of grab back of facts rather than as any sort of more substantial study of color or it's role in any given time, place or culture. Amusing anecdotes and some curious trivia, but not quite as substantial as I had hoped. ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
DNF - visually very busy and vignettes are VERY short. Great for casual browsing and picking up interesting tidbits, but many readers will find themselves running to Google for more information on many entries.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Good and fun book about colour. It was a pretty quick read, a good-looking book for people who want a quick overview of colour theory and a bit of history and quirks of various major colours. Interesting.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the way the way the book was laid out in the color spectrum (the title stands for "Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet") and all the quirky facts and trivia about each color. But in the end, it was more flash than substance. ...more
Mark Flowers
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
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I write about design and culture for magazines including Slate, The Believer and Fast Company among others. As a contributing editor for Print, I also blog twice monthly about color, patterns, and other design-related hilarities. And I do it all from the great city of Chicago.

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