Dear Fount of Wisdom,I have tried to arrange the books in my home by color, but thoughtfully, so that they are both useful and beautifully arranged. The resultant abject failure is more than I can bear. How can I be exactly like you?Sincerely,Ann[onymous]
How it both delights and pains me to read Ann[onymous]'s note. It is a particular joy to me that she would endeavor to perfect her already beautiful home. That she would attempt to incorporate my Unimpeachable Design Tenets is a testament to, well, me. Alas, Ann[onymous], like so many others, has stumbled, scraping her design knee. We are here to help, Ann (can I call you Ann?), and will see to it that you aren't, as the great Elizabeth Zimmerman would say, "forced to sup the porridge of regret with the spoon of sorrow."
Arranging one's books by color is a risky business. Some might scoff at it entirely, and I do not recommend the practice for all of one's tomes. But, as a design accent, or perhaps for a collection of romance novels, what's the hurt? I pulled all our red books to create a lovely finish to a bookcase that had a raw edge (it had once been a built in; see below, left). But note, Ann, the books are on their sides, and arranged by size within each invisible shelf. It's not just willy nilly. And I can't imagine trying it with more than one color (unless I had a LOT of books of a certain color). When it comes to the actual bookcase, the books are arranged sensibly (see detail below, center), as books should be. We arrange mostly by category, though I will admit the categories are sometimes known only to me. There's poetry, and travel, and books I should read but won't (Tess of the D'Urbervilles? Ain't gonna happen), or books I bought in hardback and never should have (Jane Smiley's Moo tops that list). Then there are earnest books about the gays, and Eric's special collection of how-to books (bindings intact; the titles all contain the word dummy or abs). You get the idea.
Our cookbooks, and there are too many of them, are in the kitchen, stacked on another invisible shelf that is starting to get on my nerves a bit. Most used are in the center, where they're easy to grab. Up top you'll find Juicing Turnips for Fun and Profit. Down at the bottom you'll find Famous Chefs Concoct Recipes You Can Neither Reproduce Nor Afford.
So you see Ann, many options exist for your own books. Knowing how well-read you are, I doubt you need my help categorizing (though I would be happy to make up categories for you). I don't think arranging cookbooks by color is going to help you much either. Rather, I suggest you find some more tangible, useful way to categorize such a special topic. For instance, you could read each cookbook, keeping track of the tablespoons of butter used in each, and arrange them in descending order of fat content. Just an idea. Alphabetically by vegetable works, too.
One more thing: it's possible that I paraphrased Ann's note just a bit. You can read her full text, if you must, in the comments section of A Weeknight Supper.