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4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  6,355 Ratings  ·  641 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)
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Laura Jean
Aug 18, 2010 Laura Jean rated it really liked it
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
Mar 24, 2011 Jimmy rated it really liked it
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
Aug 17, 2014 Lee rated it liked it
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
Sep 15, 2012 Roxane rated it it was amazing
Exquisite, lyrical, exquisite, exquisite, exquisite.
Sentimental Surrealist
I think it's safe to say the most famous study of color-as-reflection-of-individual-as-reflection-of-society-as-reflection-of-color study was Gass' On Being Blue, which Nelson cites here and seems to have a mixed-to-negative relationship with. For me, On Being Blue is a beautiful little book. Gass' eloquence can't be denied, nor can his intelligence and personable voice that doesn't always come through in his fiction. But it's no Bluets. This is everything good about the Gass study plus more; he ...more
Rose Gowen
Apr 02, 2012 Rose Gowen rated it did not like it

"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.
JSA Lowe
Sep 16, 2010 JSA Lowe rated it it was amazing
If we could marry books, I'd already be known as Mrs. Bluets.
megan freeburn
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
Julie Ehlers
Jun 10, 2015 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it
Bluets is like no other book I’ve read—it’s comprised of a number of extremely short essays, some so short they may actually qualify as poems instead. The book purports to be a meditation on the color blue, but after reading for a while you understand what it’s really about—or perhaps what it’s also about, besides the blue. Bluets is brief enough that multiple readings are feasible, and lovely enough that they’re also desirable.
Ben Loory
Dec 21, 2011 Ben Loory rated it liked it
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"...
Sep 12, 2010 D.A. rated it it was amazing
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.
David Schaafsma
Sep 20, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, non-fiction
I like Bluets a lot. The book is a collection of lyrical essays that I think could also be called prose poems, but they are a range of things: inquiry into other color works, mundane observations, about blue things, peppered with sex memories. Blue is about blue, the color, and the various emotional states we associate it with, but it is also about grief, the loss of a relationship, an analogical way of expressing that obsession and that amputated passion.

As a meditation about blue, she also so
Wendy C. Ortiz
Oct 14, 2009 Wendy C. Ortiz rated it it was amazing
All the stars in the sky.
Bluets contains both severe self-doubt and self-aggrandisement. A courageous move on the part of the author, given how frequently people(at least I) experience both poles but fail to recognize that those traits are in the same entity. Maggie Nelson quotes Goethe when talking about how all the understanding of a personal condition doesn't help relieve the ache that comes from it. She writes about all of her suffering, fucking, reading, writing, talking and thinking.
Then I lay my head down on the
Apr 08, 2013 Rodney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Sep 24, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mark + Sara, Mike
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Heather
Shelves: poetry, kindle
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
Justin Evans
Jul 19, 2016 Justin Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, essays
This book terrifies me, because it's so nicely written and interestingly formed and also so completely vapid. My fear comes from my absolute certainty that over the next 20 years I'm going to have to put up with dozens of books just like this, insofar as they'll be all 'experimental' (i.e., about fucking) and 'experimental' (i.e., self-obsessed), and 'experimental' (i.e., full of literary existentialism), and 'experimental' (i.e., quasi-educated), but not at all 'experimental' (i.e., interesting ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Jul 17, 2013 Vincent Scarpa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ungodly good. What Maggie Nelson does here—investigating and interrogating various philosophies, coming to terms with the loss of a lover and with the injury of a close friend, and the purposeful orbiting of blueness—is nothing short of magic. And the writing about sex? Good LORD.
James Tierney
Feb 10, 2014 James Tierney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 9-own
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.
May 04, 2013 Anittah rated it did not like it
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
Feb 22, 2012 Jd rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2011 Zach rated it it was amazing
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 16, 2010 a rated it really liked it
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
Feb 09, 2013 Natalie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2015 Steph rated it really liked it
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.

خیلی خیلی دوستش داشتم، نه به خاطر این که کتاب فوق العاده ای بود - شاید بود، شاید نبود، نمی دانم - بلکه به خاطر این که به من شیوه
ی جدیدی از فکر کردن - و شاید نوشتن- را یاد داد. حتی یادم نیست چطور این کتاب را پیدا کردم، چطور به فکر خواندن ش افتادم
مگی نلسن عاشق رنگ آبی است، ولی نه یک علاقه ی معمولی گذرا، علاقه ای که جدی گرفته می شود و سال ها روی آن تحقیق و تفکر می
شود. دانشگاه فوق العاده ای را تصور کنید که دانشجویان ش اجازه دارند از هرچه، بدون استثناء هرچه، به آن علاقه ی عمیق- و عجیب!- قلبی دارند
Dec 18, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Apr 14, 2013 Ellie rated it it was amazing
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)
Nov 03, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing
I love hearing break-up stories. I don't know why this is. Something about how nearly every person in the world has one--at least one--but no two are alike. And even within the field of one break-up, multiple versions of the story of that break-up exist. There's one party's version, then the other party's, then the versions of the parties' friends/families/co-workers, then the various versions that exist at any given time in relation to the break-up (i.e. you probably wouldn't tell the same vers ...more
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Prior to the much acclaimed The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), Maggie Nelson authored 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 ...more
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“Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.” 79 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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