Sometimes it’s fun to do mini-reading challenges throughout the year, like reading books with a color in the title and working your way through the rainbow. It can be a bit tricky to find great books for each color since they’re spread throughout the book store and library in various genres.
We put together some great examples of the best books that include the colors Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, White, Black, and Gray.
As with all our challenge book lists, we choose a wide range of titles from historical fiction novels, to romance and even YA fantasy. We also added a few with less common color names – like Cerulean!
The books are group in rainbow order below, with black, white, and gray at the end.
If you're looking for a shorter novel, this family saga will make you think about the long-reaching impacts of decisions in an emotionally fueled 200 pages. The writing is poignant and begins in 2001 at Melody's coming of age party. The story is not linear, and you'll be transported to various important moments in her family's history, including to Tulsa's 1921 Race Massacre.
This is a great choice if you love books like The Hungar Game or dystopian themes in the fantasy or science fiction genre. It's the first of 5 books in the Red Rising series.
Reds are the lowest caste in a color-coded system. Darrow is a Red who fulfills his duties to work endlessly, believing that his assigned work making Mars liveable now will make his children's future better.
Then he realizes that he has been betrayed along with the rest of the caste, and that they are actually slaves to the ruling class. When Darrow infiltrates the legendary Institute, he must compete for his life and the future of his society.
Throughout Doris's life, she's documented the people she encounters in the same address book. Now, at 96 and living alone in Sweden, she begins looking back through the address book, especially at all those who she has crossed out one by one as they died. In her bittersweet trip down memory lane, she reflects back on those who entered her life for various reasons and seasons, each making a mark on who she would become.
Doris sets out to document her life, from working as a maid in Sweden, to modeling in Paris before escaping WWII, to searching for a lost love in Manhattan. By documenting her personal and family past, she hopes to help her only living relative, a grandniece named Jenny.
This book was one of Western Europe recommendations for the Book Voyage Challenge, and 94% of our readers said they would recommend it to a friend.
This Norwegian YA novel is a story within a story. Georg's father died when he was just four years old. Eleven years later, Georg is a teenager living in Norway when he receives a letter his father wrote to him before he died, and within the letter is a story.
It is the story of the orange girl, and it is a riddle from the past. In his youth, Georg's father encountered a captivating girl on a streetcar. She was holding a huge bag full of oranges, but a jolt on the train caused him to bump into her, sending her oranges flying. She hopped off the streetcar, leaving him holding the oranges, and now, from the grave, he is asking his son to search Oslo to solve the mystery of who she was and who she is.
Love YA Fantasy? This bestselling coming-of-age book also has feminist and LGBTQ themes. Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to prevent destructions and preserve the 1000 year rule of the House of Berethnet.
Lady-in-waiting Ead keeps an eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her to forbidden magic. This epic tale also includes dragons, dueling religions, and collisions between different facets of society.
Khadra's devoutly Muslim family immigrated from Syria, and she's growing up in 1970s Indiana "at the crossroads of bad polyester and Islamic dress codes." Capturing what it's like to grow up Muslim in middle America, the story follows Khadra's struggle to balance her parents' beliefs and histories with her own experiences in American culture.
In the 1960s, Biafra struggled to establish an independent republic in Nigeria, triggering chilling violence in the country. In Half of a Yellow Sun, the bestselling author of Americanah tells the story of this turbulent time through the lives of three characters - a houseboy, a mistress, and a young Englishman. As Nigerians troops advance, the trio is tested in their loyalty to their beliefs and their loyalty to each other.
The author has another book set in Nigeria called Purple Hibiscus that also fits the color challenge.
Set in East New Orleans, this memoir covers the author's family history and her relationships with the house her mother purchased in the 60s. When the family purchased the home, it was in an up-and-coming new area, near a major NASA plant that exuded postwar optimism.
Over the years, the family, home, and neighborhood struggled, including the home being swept away by Hurricane Katrina. However, much had changed before Katrina as well. The memoir explores class, race, inequality, and life in New Orleans outside the tourist district.
Looking for a lighter mass-market fiction style read? Carolyn Brown is skilled at transporting you right into a small town and making you feel like you know all the characters.
Desperate for her 26-year-old daughter Stella to get married, Nancy puts Stella on the church prayer list. But in Cadillac, Texas, that's the fastest way to launch gossip. The leader of the Prayer Angels, Heather, decides the town needs a summer ball to match up Stella and the other single ladies up with dates. Stella has no interest in Heather's matchmaking and starts scheming to sabotage the ball.
Heads up: This one isn't a clean read despite the talk of the prayer list. Adult language and scenes are included.
This classic has remained popular for kids and adults for the last 100 years. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert reach out to an orphanage to give a home to a boy who could also help them out on their Prince Edward Island farm, a mix-up results in Eleven-year-old Anne Shirley being dropped off to their care.
Anne isn't only not the boy they expected, she's also mischievous, talkative, and has a bad temper! However, they also see her remarkable imagination and creativity. Follow along with Anne's adventures in this multi-book series.
If you haven't seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, it's one of the few that challenges our popular Book Was Better shirts. As much as we enjoy the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is still worth reading.
The book is set in 1985 Alabama as gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode recounts her younger years to middle-aged Evelyn. Her stories transport you back to the 1930s when her friends Idgie and Ruth opened a cafe in tiny Whistle Stop, Alabama.
As the book is partially set in segregated 1930s Alabama, there is some unfortunate but historically accurate language.
Also a popular film, if you're looking for more of a suspense option, the Green Mile takes you to Cold Mountain Penitentiary. In the E Block, those sentenced to death are waiting out their turn to be walked down the green floored corridor to the electric chair.
Prison guard Paul Edgecombe is used to eccentric prisoners, but none have been quite like John Coffey. John's body is huge, but his mind hasn't progressed past childhood. Although he's been convicted of a heinous crime, guard Edgecombe soon discovers a truth that challenges his beliefs.
We often get requests for clean books without cursing or adult scenes. These High, Green Hills is part of the popular Mitford series, which is perfect when you're looking for heartwarming G-rated stories.
All the books feature Father Tim, Mitford's rector. In this book, he's just married his neighbor Cynthia and they must adapt to living together with each other, and with Father Tim's giant dog. You'll laugh at some of their situations and be inspired by the kindness that abounds in Mitford.
Set just after WW1 in post-Edwardian England, In A Field of Blue is an interesting glimpse into a family whose wealth is running out as they deal with the aftermath of the war.
Four years after Rudy lost his eldest brother, a British soldier, to the battlefields of France, Rudy's family is still torn apart by grief and secrets. So when Mariette arrives claiming to be Edgar's widow, and the mother of his child, Rudy urges her to stay in hopes that she'll shed light on unanswered questions.
But Mariette's revelations lead to more questions than answers, and suspicions threaten to further divide Rudy's family. Rudy sets out on a quest for the truth that takes him from England to France and beyond.
Melissa read this book as part of the Decades Reading Challenge. She gave it a 4-star rating with the caveat that it is slow in places. However, each time you think it's dragging, they'll be a sudden twist. Those twists continue all the way through the epilogue!
While this book is technically a YA Fantasy, it receives high ratings across the board, even from those who don't typically choose YA or Fantasy novels.
Linus is a 40-year-old case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, and spends his days overseeing children in orphanages and his nights in a tiny house with his devious cat.
When Linus is called to a classified assignment to visit 6 children deemed dangerous, he also meets their caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, who is dedicated to the children's safety. However, as Linus and Arthur connect, secrets are exposed and Linus must choose between destroying the home of the children or risking them destroying the world.
The central theme of the book is kindness and many reviews describe it as a book that's great for your heart and soul.
Twelve-year-old Clover Blue isn't sure of his birthday, who his parents are, or what his name used to be - but he does know that he's happy living among the Saffron Freedom Community - the commune into which he was adopted. On the commune, everyone is family, but when Clover (urged on by his funny best friend, Harmony) begins to ask questions, his search for identity will bring upheaval to the community.
Among the peaceful, nature-loving members of the commune, this novel will introduce you to a unique group of characters that help paint a portrait of the decade - from the commune's guru to a Grateful Dead groupie, and from a Vietnam deserter to a surfer, and a midwife, just to name a few.
When she was 16, Emmie Blue had a secret. In an attempt to let it go, she wrote it down and put it in a balloon, which she released into the sky.
A week later, Lucas finds the balloon and note, and emails Emmie, launching a deep friendship. But, fourteen years later, Emmie is still waiting for Lucas to realize she's actually in love with him. In fact, she's spent so much time obsessing over Lucas that the rest of her life has fallen apart.
When Lucas announces that he has a big question, will it be the one Emmie has been waiting for?
The Color Purple portrays the lives of African American women in the deep south throughout the first half of the twentieth century, though most of the story takes place between the two world wars. Separated when they are young, sisters Celie and Nettie maintain their relationship through a series of letters spanning twenty years. This book broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, while taking readers on a journey of love and redemption.
The Lilac Girls is an emotionally challenging and honest look at three distinct experiences during WW2.
You'll walk through the war from 1939-1959 with a Polish girl, an NYC socialite, and a German female doctor. Their very different lives will intersect in different ways, and parts of their experiences will be permanently etched into your life.
The progression of the doctor's life from someone with big goals of being a surgeon to where she ends up is a perspective that isn't addressed often enough in WW2 books. It's a fascinating example of how millions of average, non-extremist Germans became complicit and carried out war crimes.
There are scenes at Ravensbrück that are extremely difficult to read. At points, Melissa wanted to skip them. However, the scenes were based on real events and people (don't miss the author's note after the book). The girls and women who endured this reality are owed us understanding what happened to them.
When England needs assistance breaking German military codes, three very different women answer the call. A beautiful, wealthy debutant Osla, self-made Mab who has emerged from poverty, and Beth, a shy local spinster.
The trio is torn apart in the war, but in 1947, they're reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter. The women must work together to crack one final code to stop a traitor.
With two viewpoints spanning generations, One Pink Line tells the story of Sydney Shephard, young and in love, but not planning to become a mother during her senior year in college. Her daughter, Grace, questions her entire existence when she finds out her birth wasn't a product of the great love she assumed.
It's part love story and part family drama, with laughs mixed in along the way.
Ingrid is a gorgeous, yet manipulative, poet with a daughter who adores her. However, when Ingrid is rejected by a lover, she's becomes deranged and murders him, which sends her to prison and her daughter Astrid into the LA foster system.
The novel follows Astrid on this journey through a series of foster homes as she deals with constant changes, poverty, and loneliness.
Author J.B. West spent almost three decades as the Chief Usher at the White House, making him the coordinator of both lavish functions and daily life for six different presidents and their families.
His memoir is full of anecdotes and history from behind closed doors. In this era of partisan politics, it's refreshing to see the mutual respect throughout changing leadership during his years on the job.
This book is currently included with Kindle Unlimited.
When you read Black Buck, you'll be compelled to check time and time again if it's fiction or if Buck is a real person. The talented author weaves a realistic tale of extraordinary circumstances, with a dark edge.
Twenty-two year old Darren works in a coffee shop despite being valedictorian of a prestigious high school - Bronx Science. So, when one of his customers convinces him to come work in sales at a tech startup, his entire life changes, but it's not all good.
Set in the 1830s, 11-year-old Wash is a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation. When he's selected as a manservant for his master's brothers, he's terrified, but soon realizes that Christopher Wilde is actually an abolitionist. He's also an explorer and inventor, exposing Wash to many wonders that are more incredible than anything in his imagination.
When a bounty is placed on Wash after a murder, Christopher flees with him and their adventures continue worldwide. A story of both betrayal and redemption, Washington Black was named one of the year's best books by the New York Times Book Review and countless other publications.
Set in 1944, The Black Swan of Paris is a novel about WW2 occupied Paris and two sister's work in the resistance to save their estranged mother's life after her capture.
Genevieve is a beautiful singer being used by her manager, Max, as a smokescreen for his work in the resistance. She's resentful for being used until she must get more involved after hearing about the arrest of her mother, a Baroness who the allies fear will reveal too much information if she is tortured.
Lina is a typical 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who loves painting, drawing, and boys. But one night in 1941 Soviet officers burst into her home, tearing her family away from their comfortable life. She and her mother and brother are forced onto a train with no idea where they are headed.
Under Stalin's orders, they are forced into a work camp under the cruelest, and coldest, conditions. but Lina finds comfort in her drawings. She depicts the scenes she witnesses on a daily basis in hopes that they'll provide proof of all they are forced to endure.
The Book Girls Say... This YA novel deals with the very grim realities of a Gulag and will introduce you to a side of WII that you've probably learned little about. Some readers didn't enjoy the audio version of this book as much as the printed version.
Book Girls' Readers Rate This Book ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 97% Would Recommend to a Friend
This coming-of-age novel tracks one year in the life of a 13-year-old boy in a sleepy village in Cold War England. Each of the chapters represents one month from January of 1982 to January of 1983, and while each reads like a short story, together they paint a portrait of this stuttering young poet as he experiences many of the firsts of growing up.