Book Review

Book Review of The Secret Language of Color by Arielle & Joann Eckstut

The Secret Language of Color

The Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet

*I received an ARC (advanced review copy) of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wow! What a stunning visual feast! The Secret Language of Color is an ambitious book that covers a variety of topics having to with colors including chemistry, nature, history, culture, art, people and more.

From the beginning of the book:

"Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar. A true expert would have
to be fluent in physics, chemistry, astronomy, optics, neuroscience, geology,
botany, zoology, human biology, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, art history,
and cartography; and the list goes on and on. We thought we were color
experts before we wrote this book, but we were brought to our senses by the
breadth and depth of the material.

Now we like to describe ourselves as color tourists who traveled the world of
color—its jungles, deserts, cities, forests, rural villages, seas, monuments, and
museums—and made it back alive. Along the way, we collected our favorite things.

Perhaps the most important thing we learned in our travels, the thing that
explains why color is so omnipresent in our lives is this: more than 80 percent
of the activity in the neocortex (the part of our brain that deals with
everything from language to movement to problem solving) comes via our
eyes. The vast majority of information we process from the outside world is
visual. And everything we see is colored.

...Whether you see red, are a shrinking violet, are green with envy, talk a blue
streak, or are in a black mood, we hope that our book will celebrate, illuminate,
and paint a colorful picture of this amazing force of nature."

The first chapter delves into the perception of color and the physics and chemistry behind color with discoveries by Newton, electromagnetism, a discussion on what constitutes the REAL primary colors, how your brain interprets colors, optical illusions and more. After that, each successive chapter focuses on a single particular color and wends along a twisting path of color lore, facts and a plethora of stunning photographs, illustrations that make each page an absolute delight. The first part of the book is a little less accessible, but the sections on each color are easier reads. Layouts make material easy to skim but don't be surprised if you get sucked in and spend a lot more time perusing the multitude of facts.

This is a BEAUTIFUL book and even the youngest reader would enjoy gaping at the pages, even if the text is beyond his abilities, while older students and adults will enjoy learning all sorts of color related trivia like this fact about yellow highlighters (from the chapter about the color yellow):

"If you’re convinced that your highlighter helped you get
through school, you might be right. When you read a highlighted
section of text, the visual system in your brain interacts with the
language system, and the greater the number of distinct brain
circuits that are active while studying, the more likely you’ll
remember what you read."

There are full page spreads, side-bar boxes and well designed layouts that illustrate and inform. It reminds me a lot of the book: The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray. It's a book that's meant to be browsed and every page screams, "Look at me!". Highly recommended for all ages, especially middle schoolers through adults.

*Note: I was provided a free ARC (advance review copy) in exchange for my honest review!


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