All the Covers of the Rainbow: Gray

All the Covers of the Rainbow: Gray

Inspired by the “Book Cloud” that hangs over our front desk, pictured above, welcome to All the Covers of the Rainbow.

We all know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate them. A beautiful cover can grab a reader and draw them into the book before they even look at the first page. In this blog series All the Covers of the Rainbow, we’ll highlight a collection of books that share the same cover color.

Black and white photo of a child looking at art

Today, we’re going to take a look at books sharing the color gray, a color defined by its neutrality, sitting on the scale of black and white. Often associated with neutrality, boredom, old age, and indifference, gray has been a staple of fashion and art for centuries. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, gray was commonly used for women’s dresses, men’s waistcoats, and military uniforms. In the twentieth century, gray became a symbol of war and industrialization, as can be seen in Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, an 11ft 5in tall by 25ft 6in wide painting portraying the violence and chaos of the Spanish Civil War. Albert Einstein is said to have worn a gray suit each day to prevent wasting his brainpower when choosing an outfit. In nature, gray can symbolize the oncoming storm or show a person’s age in their hair. We can see gray across pop culture, sports, fashion, and more. There’s no color better suited for such wide use as gray, which was once defined by Sensational Color as “morally ambiguous.”

There is, however, a very important question to ask when talking about gray… or is it grey? Which one is correct? Well, according to Merriam Webster, both are correct spellings for the color! Gray is most commonly used in American English, while Grey is used primarily by British spellers. “Despite the American preference for gray, the spelling grey retains a healthy presence in a lot of cultural references known to Americans, such as Grey Poupon mustard and Grey Goose vodka, both of which originated in France.”

Each book cover below is also a link to purchase the book on Bookshop.org, which supports local, independent bookstores. We also strongly encourage you to support your local bookstores by ordering online. They need our help more than ever, and we need them to stick around.

Written by Matthew Masino


“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world.”

—Cormac McCarthy, The Road

A Promised Land by Barack Obama book cover
This Book is Gray by Lindsay Ward
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond book cover
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

“When there are grey skies
I don’t mind grey skies.
You make them blue, Sonny Boy.”

―Ray Henderson, Buddy DeSylva, and Lew Brown, “Sonny Boy”

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson book cover
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters
Metallica: The $24.95 Book by Ben Apatoff book cover
Antkind by Charlie Kaufman book cover

“I looked at him, into his warm gray eyes, and suddenly understood what he was trying to tell me. The message hidden beneath the words.

You are not alone.”

―Kody Keplinger, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

The Lightness by Emily Temple book cover
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump book cover
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi book cover
How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution by Lee Alan Dugatking and Lyudmila Trut book cover

“I am the shade of gray, the glass half empty or full, depending on your view. In my life there has been little that I have done first or better than the one preceding or following me.

―Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Cole Porter by William McBrien book cover
Aug 9 - Fog by Kathryn Scanlan book cover
The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Craig Whitlock book cover
Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans book cover

“You want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

―Phil (Bill Murray), Groundhog Day. Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis.

Twelve Days of Terror: Inside the Shocking 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks by Richard G. Fernicola book cover
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick book cover
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs book covers
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher book cover

Matthew Masino is a content creator, writer, and theatre director based in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Theatre Directing from Columbia College Chicago in 2019. Matthew began writing for the AWM blog in April 2020, just after the museum’s closure and has since written more than two dozen articles for the blog. He is also responsible for creating the AWM Destinations blog series. As a theatre artist, Matthew has worked with the International Voices Project, the Chicago Fringe Festival, and BYOT Productions. You can learn more by visiting his website www.matthewmasino.com.

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