Book Review: Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Another book that had been on my “to-read” list for a while: Bluets by Maggie Nelson. I have to say I was intrigued by this book before picking it up; after all, how often do you see an entire book based around a single color? It’s an interesting premise, and led me to investigate. After requesting the title through my Interlibrary Loan (a great feature, for the record), and waiting a few weeks, I finally got my hands on it.

It’s a fairly short title – just about 100 pages, depending on which edition you read – and as a result, took me only about a day to get through. The lyrical, prose-style writing is also quick and generally easy to read.

So – how can I summarize this book? First & foremost, it’s about the color blue – but it’s also about love, relationships, sex, depression, music and more. The author interlaces the color blue with all of these facets of life; the result is often deep, sometimes basic, sometimes genius, occasionally breathtaking and generally… humorless. If you’re looking for a “funny” read, this isn’t going to be it – but it is a somewhat philosophical memoir/mediation/whatever else you want to call it.

I enjoyed this book in the beginning, but as it went on, it got a little away from me. There was no real plot, which made it challenging to stay attached to any piece of it. The quotes included are appropriate and thoughtful, but they may be some of the most thoughtful parts of the entire book. It also gets somewhat awkwardly and uncomfortably sexual at points – not exactly what you’d expect from a book that starts off with the author talking about how she didn’t choose to fall in love with the color blue.

In the end, I walked away from this book feeling, well, undecided. It didn’t make me look at the world differently, didn’t make me appreciate things more or look at colors more deeply or anything; it was disjointed and stilted. It wasn’t horrid, it wasn’t great, it just…. was.


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