StoryGraph Saturday: A Natural History of Color

StoryGraph Saturday is a weekly thing where I randomly choose a book from my To Read pile on StoryGraph and show it off to both remind myself that it’s there and to show it to you, Dear Reader, in case you might find it interesting, too.


A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See It
by Robert DeSalle
Nonfiction/Science
304 pages
Published in 2020

From The StoryGraph:

Is color a phenomenon of science or a thing of art? Over the years, color has dazzled, enhanced, and clarified the world we see, embraced through the experimental palettes of painting, the advent of the color photograph, Technicolor pictures, color printing, on and on, a vivid and vibrant celebrated continuum. These turns to represent reality in “living color” echo our evolutionary reliance on and indeed privileging of color as a complex and vital form of consumption, classification, and creation. It’s everywhere we look, yet do we really know much of anything about it?

Finding color in stars and light, examining the system of classification that determines survival through natural selection, studying the arrival of color in our universe and as a fulcrum for philosophy, DeSalle’s brilliant A Natural History of Color establishes that an understanding of color on many different levels is at the heart of learning about nature, neurobiology, individualism, even a philosophy of existence. Color and a fine tuned understanding of it is vital to understanding ourselves and our consciousness.


Art and photography have been part of my life for about as long as I can remember, so color and the science and perception of it have been part of my life for a long time, too. Color perception is a strange thing, and the duplication of it- whether through paint or by digital cameras- is a more complex process than most people think. So learning more about color and the perception of it is something that’s always going to interest me. I just found out about this book a week or so ago, and I’m looking forward to picking it up seeing what it has to offer.

2 thoughts on “StoryGraph Saturday: A Natural History of Color

  1. I’m curious to learn more about this one. It’s amazing how relative color can be, how we each see it just a bit differently, how each device we use displays it just a bit differently, and how our perception of color can change so drastically with changes to the sources of light. It’s a fascinating topic.

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