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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  2,607 ratings  ·  300 reviews
Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color...

A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists.

Maggie Nelson is the author of numerous books of poetry and non
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Wave Books (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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It’s kind of cliche to say that you don’t choose the people you love. But I’ve been thinking about this recently, maybe because Maggie Nelson starts off the book with this point, that she didn’t choose to fall in love with blue (yes the color). The book continually repeats cliches like this without shame, but then takes it in a slightly odd direction (like being in love with a color) that ends up (because of its strangeness and forthrightness) being oddly effective in terms of getting us to reev ...more
Laura Jean
There are some books you need to read because they are on a list, or have been deemed exceptional, or have been sitting lonely on your shelf.

Then there are books you need to read because you NEED them, because you need what they say, how they are, what they do to you.

My friend Julie Kantor handed this book to me last night. She said, "You need to read this." I said okay.

I read it this morning; it is only 95 pages.

I wish I could explain why this book was what I needed. It is not that I don't
A numbered meditation on longing, love, obsession, connection at once spiritual, associative, interpersonal, and physical. Superficially about a color. Wondered what she would've written about "Blue Is the Warmest Color," but then again she's given up on the cinema. The sort of sensibility that prefers "cinema" to film or movie or, certainly, flick. Sexually explicit at regular intervals to keep you on your toes among the obligatory Goethe and Wittgenstein quotation. Acknowledges and dismisses G ...more
this morning i saw a beautiful sunrise like lava bursting through rock and my friend sent me a picture of some blood at a crime scene on a london pavement she nearly stepped in and i read 'bluets'. none of these are connected but of course they're all related, much like the propositions in the book. one on its own is a tree, a star, but together they all make up a vast landscape that encompasses every possible facet of the human experience. reading 'bluets' was like breaking into a swimming pool ...more
JSA Lowe
If we could marry books, I'd already be known as Mrs. Bluets.
This is a brilliant little book that does its best to defy classification. Part of it is memoir, looking back on an ended relationship while living in the emotional aftermath of it. What's interesting is how this is explored in tandem with a philosophical investigation of the color blue, and it is this exploration that dominates the 240 numbered section of the book. More specifically, it is about Maggie Nelson's love of the color, and how that love informs her understanding of other forms of lov ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mark + Sara, Mike
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Heather
Shelves: kindle, poetry
I started Bluets on the train the other week, or at least that's how I remember it. Where was I going that taking the train was the best option? I don't know, but that's when I tend to reach for the Kindle, as at home I have the luxury of carrying a book from room to room, leaving it in this stack or the other, picking up again and taking it into the bath, setting it down for the night after reading under the covers in my cool room.

But Bluets was on the Kindle, and so it was read in passing, a f
Belle-lettrist in the best sense, Bluets moves lightly from philosophy to etymology to erotics to autobiography without landing for long on any one, with blue as connecting thread but also armature for an elegant, decidedly Old World prose studded with “perhapses” and “nonethelesses” and “it must be admitteds” that talks to the reader in an artfully intimate second-person address. The book’s energy, for me, comes from the push-pull between emotional exposure and literary exercise, the simultaneo ...more
I have trouble reading poetry; I don't understand quite how it works.

A few nights ago, my eyes were filling up with tears as I sat at the computer. As the pixels blurred, I was struck by how blue the screen was. The Regina Spektor lyric blue lips, blue veins, blue, the color of our planet from far far away ran through my mind. I minimized the page, and was confronted with the blue of my desktop background (this picture). A few moments later, I scrolled through my goodreads feed and saw Bluets.

Rose Gowen

"Suppose I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession; suppose I shredded my napkin as we spoke. It began slowly. An appreciation, an affinity. Then, one day, it became more serious."

These are the first few sentences in the book; the rest follows in the same vein. Either one finds this sort of thing lovely and poetic, or else one finds it incredibly dippy.
A writing professor once told me that a good experimental-form book teaches you how to read it. From the first sentence, I see that I'm reading a work with an experimental form: each paragraph/memory/fact is sequentially numbered throughout the entire book, so that it reads like a list, or numbered stanzas in a poem, or perhaps a series of axioms in a mathematical proof. The numbering seems to insist that the logical part of my brain should march in and sort it all out but the content keeps trip ...more
Jim Coughenour
[Warning: this review contains blue language.]

Not long ago I re-read William Gass's 1976 classic On Being Blue. Typically, I remembered almost nothing of the book I read when it first appeared, except what a handsome little book it was, one of the first David R. Godine/Nonpareil Books I'd ever seen. Gass actually doesn't have much to say about the color blue. He's more interested in the word, the metaphor, particularly in its sexual aspect. (Naturally, it being 1976 and his blue being exclusivel
I could have read this quickly...but why would I? Instead, I took it in slowly. Carried it around with me. Held it on my tongue. Turned phrases around. Looked up etymologies.

I physically shelved this book next to Autobiography of Red. This seems apt, and I am pleased.

Will probably read this again soon, but perhaps in a single sitting. I wonder how it will taste then.
Ben Loory
a lot of elegant writing on a sentence level, a lot of interesting observations, a lot of great quotes from famous writers and philosophers, and some neat facts about the color blue... but man, just so unrelentingly sad, maddeningly reticent (for a memoir), and HUMORLESS... like being trapped in a sad box for 90 pages... just you and the color blue and the word "fucking"...
In short lyrical paragraphs blurring the boundary between essay and poem, Nelson inhabits a color, using it as a landscape of inquiry. The result is both fascinatingly informative and deeply moving.
Mainly lovely, partly unsettling. When I got down from the train last night, the sky was exactly the color of the cover of this book.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson is a beautiful and poignant meditation on love, loss, and the color blue, and, naturally, love of the color blue. Blue is the sun of this text out of which radiates the light of the writing, both joyful and (maybe mostly) sad. Loss of lovers, loss of hopes, a friend who has lost the use of all her limbs.

This is a slender but dense book, a prose poem broken into sections. She calls upon such writers as Ludwig Wittgenstein, goethe, and Marguerite Duras (among many others)
Expectation equals disappointment. I know, I know. I should not have had expectations. What work would not break under such weight? Aside from anything written by Karl Ove Mouthguard? I was excited by the cover, whose cosmic blue seemed lifted from my sparkly blue bedroom walls. I was excited by the form, which upon scanning in the basement of the bookstore in Princeton, NJ reminded me of The Gay Science. I was excited!

I console myself with the fact that Maggie Nelson, PhD, was thirty when she s
1. Despite the tremendous lack of a fuck im inclined to give about the dual ostensible objects of this meditation? exposition? prose-poem? logical treatise?--the literal color blue and heartbreak--i found in its propositions a rendering of a received/perceived world that is, in profound and pleasurable ways, simpatico. I mean this in form as well as function, process and product.

2. Theres something particularly affecting and 'true-when-there-is-no-more-truth' about the (failed) oracula
Kathleen F
Maggie Nelson's Bluets is one, long, braided personal essay written using the thematic link of the color blue. (So stay away, ye readers who are intimidated by experimental forms of what is now termed "creative nonfiction.") Nelson weaves her meditation on the color, its symbolism, its importance, with her own break-up from her lover and her friend's serious car accident (and resulting quadroplegia.) It is hearbreaking, and interesting, and off-putting, and different, and incredibly well-written ...more
Eight out of five stars, honest. I think this one's book-twin is Marilyn Hacker's Love Death and the Changing of the Seasons.

Edited to add: I am now responsible for SEVEN copies of this book being sold (I bought 1 for myself and 4 for friends, then 2 friends bought their own on my recommendation.) Not to oversell or anythin'.
Unless you're into poetry or something, there's no urgent need to read this book. But what you do need to do right away is google-image search "satin bowerbird bower," and maybe also give Joni Mitchell's record Blue another attentive listen.
James Tierney
Composed of 240 fragments around the permutations of blue, Nelson's lyrical, bare consideration of depression, sex, music, cornflowers, doubt, colour and more is personal and vast.
Feb 09, 2013 n rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: favorites
would describe this book as ‘written by a person who feels too much/for people who feel too much’ (even if we have learnt to be silent about it)

my favourite part:
199. for to wish to forget how much you loved someone—and then, to actually forget—can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart. i have heard that this pain can be converted, as it were, by accepting ‘the fundamental impermanence of all things.’ this acc
My favorite color is blue.

From a recommendation from a friend, I found a copy of Bluets and in the process found my favorite new bookstore in Tucson. So, a win all around.

Maggie Nelson has organized Bluets into a series of propositions, she calls them, and each one varies from a few lines to significantly longer (though never more than about a page). Each one focuses on the color blue in some way, shape, or form. The physical, like Newton, to the emotional, like depression, play together in a wa
Kerri Stebbins
I'm hereby employing Nelson's favorite method of storytelling within Bluets, and the only method wherein she (or various poets or philosophers or Joni Mitchell, as it were) actually says anything substantial: I'm quoting. In this case, Wendell Berry (from "A Remarkable Man"), who makes me feel so much less alone amongst the ever-growing barrage of abstruse tongues who prefer talking in circles as opposed to ever concretely saying anything.

"This gobbledygook of 'universe' is representative of a
Sigrun Hodne

unbelievable beautiful, totally strange -
I'm not sure what to call it; poetry, essays, fragments, self-biography, factual prose, nature science, philosophy.
If you (like me) find delight in hybridity, poetic language & ways of writing you haven't seen before, you should read this!

APRIL 2013
I'm working on an essay on this book, or actually two essays; I will be writing the first in English, the second in Norwegian.
Anna Tatelman
Her prose writing is beautiful, don't get me wrong . . . I just couldn't get into this book. All of her thoughts were so disjointed and vague, and every time the story would actually begin to progress in a direction -- every time a semblance of a plot would appear, in other words -- she would go on another tangent that had nothing to do with anything. That said, if you're looking for a book with pretty language and some good quotes, give this one a look. Just be prepared to be quite bored with t ...more
DISCLAIMER: The below is not my review, it is a review from Amazon but it is the reason why I bought the book and encapsulates why I love it. Also, as soon as I finished it, I started over from the beginning.


This is a brilliant little book that does its best to defy classification. Part of it is memoir, looking back on an ended relationship while living in the emotional aftermath of it. What's interesting is how this is explored in tandem with a philosophical in
Heather Hasselle
Beginning Bluets while on a plane, flying into what we might the call the bluest, it felt as though I were ascending into the world of this book, which is to say a state of hyper awareness, when as you read, every blue thing starts pulsing in existence--the blue sky out of my window, the scarf of the woman beside me, the cover of the book, warming in my hand like some blue heart replacing my own.

The longing and hunger for something that's all around you--a color, blue--a hunger no less nor wors
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Maggie Nelson is most recently the author of three books of nonfiction: Bluets (Wave Books, 2009); Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007), and The Red Parts: A Memoir (Free Press, 2007). The Art of Cruelty, a work of art criticism, is forthcoming from WW Norton. Nelson is also the author of several books of poetry, including Something Bright, Then ...more
More about Maggie Nelson...
The Argonauts The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning Jane: A Murder The Red Parts: A Memoir Something Bright, Then Holes

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“Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.” 37 likes
“I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. 'Love is not consolation,' she wrote. 'It is light.'

All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”
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