High Heel is a riveting, ferociously intelligent, deeply liberating book. I would like to press a copy of it into the hands of every woman I know—and every man, too.”

Jami Attenberg, bestselling author of All Grown Up

Available now from Bloomsbury

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Publication date: March 21st, 2019

A Refinery29 Best Book of March 2019

A Paste Magazine Best Book of March 2019

Fetishized, demonized, celebrated, and outlawed, the high heel is central to the iconography of modern womanhood. But are high heels good? Are they feminist? What does it mean for a woman (or, for that matter, a man) to choose to wear them?

Meditating on the labyrinthine nature of sexual identity and the performance of gender, High Heel moves from film to fairy tale, from foot binding to feminism, and from the golden ratio to glam rock. Summer Brennan considers this most provocative of fashion accessories as a nexus of desire and struggle, sex and society, violence and self expression, setting out to understand what it means to be a woman by walking a few hundred years in her shoes.

Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

“[A] thought-provoking meditation on what it means to move through the world as a woman...Powerful enough to completely change your world view."


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About The Series

“Object Lessons is a series of concise, collectable, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. Each book starts from a specific inspiration: an historical event, a literary passage, a personal narrative, a technological innovation—and from that starting point, explores the object of the title, gleaning a singular lesson or multiple lessons along the way. Featuring contributions from writers, artists, scholars, journalists, and others, the emphasis throughout is lucid writing, imagination, and brevity. Object Lessons paints a picture of the world around us, and tells the story of how we got here, one object at a time.” —Bloomsbury

About The Author

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Summer Brennan is an award-winning investigative journalist and author, born and raised in Northern California. She received the 2016 Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award, and was a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Her first book, The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America, published in August 2015, was shortlisted for the Orion Book Award and was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Award. She has written for New York Magazine, The Paris Review, Scientific American, Longreads, Pacific Standard, McSweeneys, The Millions, Lit Hub, Buzzfeed, The Rumpus, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others. She received a bachelor’s from Bennington College, where she studied painting and poetry, and a master’s from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she studied journalism and Middle Eastern politics. A longtime communications consultant at the United Nations, she worked on special political issues from 2008 to 2010—including decolonization, atomic radiation, outer space technologies, and the Middle East—and on nuclear weapons, disarmament, and international security from 2011 to 2015. Other UN projects include work on the environment, gender equality, human rights, and the UN Global Ebola Response. Her third book, The Parisian Sphinx, about 19th century French artist and model Victorine Meurent, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She lives in Brooklyn and New Mexico.


"[A] thought-provoking meditation on what it means to move through the world as a woman...Powerful enough to completely change your world view." —Refinery29

“In 150 little essays, Brennan goes at it with poetry, literary references, myth, the psychopathology of rape, fairy tales, politics, and fashion history. All is brought off so beautifully that you can’t help reading.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Combining brilliant writing with extensive research, [High Heel] delivers an entertaining read...” —Paste Magazine

"From Cinderella's glass slippers to Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahniks, Summer Brennan deftly analyzes one of the world's most provocative and sexualized fashion accessories..." —Longreads

"Brennan resists giving way to easy judgments on either side. She's inhabiting the same space as so-called "bad feminist" Roxane Gay, interrogating both sides of the high heel dilemma and refusing to declare a winner...The lovely cadences stack up like so many sand castles that sift iconic examples of high heels into a finely grained pile of pros and cons that each reader will sift through quite differently...Whether you're for them or against them, the radical uncertainty of Brennan's take on high heels is worth reflection." —Pop Matters

"High Heel is a glowing showcase of what it means to be a woman, in every historical, political, and publicly consumed meaning of the word... So much of High Heel feels like it has been presented in an act of kismet... proof that we had not experienced any of these events in our life alone." —The Attic on Eighth