All the Covers of the Rainbow: Purple

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.

Photo of Prince

Historically, the color purple has long been associated with royalty, privilege, and power. As early as the 15th century, wealthy and powerful people wore purple to signify their position in society. At the time, the process of getting purple dye (known then as Tyrian purple) was long, difficult, and expensive. Thousands of tiny sea snails had to be found, have their shells cracked and removed, and then left to soak until a small gland could be removed and placed in the sunlight. This process allowed kings, noblemen, and priests across the Mediterranean to display their wealth and privilege. As time went on and the purple dye became easier to produce, people of all classes could obtain purple garments. Despite its current availability, purple is still held in high regard. The Purple Heart is awarded by the President to those “who are wounded or killed while fighting in the nation’s wars. … The Purple Heart is the only decoration awarded without regard to any person’s favor or approval; any soldier, sailor, airman or marine who sheds blood in defense of the nation is automatically awarded the Purple Heart” (armyhistory.com). In the English language, the word purple only has one perfect rhyme, the word “curple,” meaning the hindquarters or rump of a horse. Purple can be seen used widely in entertainment, from Tinky Winky to Barney the Dinosaur. Singer-songwriter Prince loved purple, as seen in his wardrobe, stage sets, albums, and, of course, his song Purple Rain. In the LGBT community, purple is strongly associated with bisexuality and is reflected in the bisexual pride flag. Designer Michael Page explained the flags meaning saying, “The key to understanding the symbolism of the Bisexual pride flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the ‘real world,’ where bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.”

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


“The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.”

—Alice Hoffman, Here on Earth

The Color Purple by Alice Walker book cover
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi book cover
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi book cover
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson book cover

“‘Yeah, but they’re PURPLE pants,’ Bobby said as if that made some kind of distinction. ‘Hence, I’m awesome.'”

―Amanda Hocking, Wisdom

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders book cover
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton book cover
In the Next Room: Or the Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl book cover

Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Bathing in the purple rain”

―Prince, “Purple Rain”

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
Dangerous by Amanda Quick book cover
The Raven: Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe book cover
Jazz by Toni Morrison book cover

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

―Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen book cover
Purplicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann
Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich book cover
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic book cover

“Dreams are the subtle Dower
That makes us rich an Hour
Then fling us poor
Out of the purple door”

―Emily Dickinson

Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin book cover
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl book cover
Stargazer by Claudia Gray 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content