Bluestockings

This past summer, as I realized that my graduate work was winding down, I came home one day and told Tom I wanted to start a book club.

So in August, we had the first meeting of the Bluestockings. Definition of bluestocking from Wikipedia:

A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman. Such women are stereotyped as being frumpy and the reference to blue stockings refers to the time when woolen worsted stockings were informal dress, as compared with formal, fashionable black silk stockings.

The term originated with the Blue Stockings Society – a literary society founded by Elizabeth Montagu in the 1750s. This provoked derogatory usage in the late 18th century, specifically in reference to women — previously the term had referred to learned people of both sexes. Such women have increased in number since, as women now enter higher education in large numbers. For example, in Britain, women are now 55% of new entrants to university and outnumber men at every level up to PhD.

It goes on to talk about the prejudice toward women who dress certain ways, but that’s only vaguely relevant to the group. We are young New York women, and so we are more or less fashionable (maybe less in comparison to some young New York women, but more in comparison to our friends in less hyperfashionable places).

In any case, we are all about reading good books, which at this point has been mostly literary fiction and some nonfiction. What we’ve read so far:

  • The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Lush Life, Richard Price
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
  • The Red Leather Diary, Lily Koppel
  • The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell
  • The Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon
  • A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore

We’re reading Olive Kitteridge for January. We get together with snacks and drinks and talk about the book – and, of course, whatever’s going on in our lives. It’s completely delightful to read good books and talk about them with other people who actually like good books as well. I maintain that someone’s book list is a better indication than even their taste in film or music of “the tribe.” If you and I like the same books, we’re probably kindred spirits.

Many of us Bluestockings are also taking the Fifty Two Fifty Two challenge (read 52 books in 2010). Any books are allowed – YA novels, graphic novels, the world is your oyster, etc. If you want to join us, you can sign up here and occasionally drop in to list off what you’ve read recently. Most of us are also on Goodreads.

2 thoughts on “Bluestockings

  1. Love the name of your book club. I’ve been wanting to start a book club for a while, I really should do it. And my husband recently read and loved “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”

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