What Color-Coding the Books in My Office Taught Me About Life

Illustration for article titled What Color-Coding the Books in My Office Taught Me About Life
Photo: Damon Young


I tried real hard, though, to find life-lessons there. An edict, perhaps. An ancient mystery, finally solved, maybe. A clue, even, that would begin to unlock an ecosystem of interconnected riddles. A tomb opened. A catacomb unleashed. A reverie discovered. “One cannot step twice in the same river,” the great Heraclitus said when noticing how wet his shins were. Is this bookshelf my river? The books my water? What do you do with a wet book?

I glanced out my office window, searching for an answer, a solution, a meaning, a purpose; but instead found a Rite-Aid parking lot. There are cars there. Some empty. Some not. Carl Sagan once noted about emptiness that in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” He always reminded me of soup.

Who do you call when the phones are jammed?” It’s a question I keep coming back to. Especially now since my phone has call-waiting. And I’m reminded of what Adriana Lima said, years ago, about jelly. “When I get older, I don’t think I’ll like to have wrinkles, or a big jelly belly. I cannot have it.” Age is a grift.


But yeah. No life-lessons. I just think it looks pretty.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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E=MC Hammered

I did this a couple years ago and was surprised at how quickly I began to associate individual books with their colors. I figured it’d take me a while to remember which section each title was in, but it wasn’t difficult at all.