Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic | Released: September 7, 2017 | Paperback 144 pp.
A celebration of the sublime aspects of the mundane, Sock unravels the history, construction, and necessity of this most common of objects—something we daily tug on and take off with hardly a thought—and along the way reintroduces us to our own bodies: vulnerable, bipedal, and flawed. Part of Bloomsbury's acclaimed Object Lessons Series, Sock is currently being translated into Turkish.
"An utterly engaging investigation—not so much of [the sock], per se, as of human evolution, anatomy, physics, sexuality, fashion, painting, consumerism, manufacturing, and motherhood. . . . illuminating, erudite, deeply intelligent." —Los Angeles Review of Books

"Sock reflects on the brilliance present in the minutiae of our lives. With piercing wit, idiosyncratic humor and sharply insightful moments of personal examination, Adrian uses the most domestic of items as a lens through which to view the inelegance and wondrousness of humanity." —Shelf Awareness

"If a book called Sock makes you think, 'Twenty-five-thousand words on socks? Uh, no,' then you’re unclear on the concept. You’re also missing out on a thoroughly delightful discussion." —Washington Independent Review of Books

"It is a remarkable read, a perfectly satisfying balance of fact and quirk and charm." —

"[Adrian] speaks about knitting throughout the book with such capable intensity I found an appreciation for her voice on it and an interest in her as a human." —PopMatters

"Kim Adrian's Sock is the darndest thing. Witty and sly, written with the highest tactile precision, it is at the same time stacked with erudite asides and unexpected perspectives. Adrian reminds us where the ground lies and how we move upon it—and what miraculous things we have encasing our feet as we do so." —Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies

"Fun, focused, and footloose!" —Nicholson Baker, author of The Mezzanine


Rétifism, with or without the accent, means shoe fetish. Podophilia is love of the foot. Sock fetishists go by the name “sock fetishists,” because, I suppose, like all things sock-ish, even the extremists lean toward the mundane. Mundane comes from the French word mondaine, meaning “of this world.” Originally, it signified that a thing was clean, proper, elegant, worldly; but today it means something closer to boring. Earthbound. Pedestrian. Pedestrian stems from the Latin word for foot—ped. It is cousin to pedal, pedicure, and pedigree To be pedestrian is to walk, not run, dance, or skip. A pedestrian goes about on foot, of course. The adjective is often used in reference to lackluster writing, as in dull and prosaic. Prosaic is related to the word prose, which, itself, has roots in the Latin word provorsus, a compound built from pro- (forward) and vorsus (turned), in other words, oriented in forward-facing fashion—as when walking. If your writing is prosaic it progresses in a predictable manner, never wavering, swaggering, or wandering. Pervorsus is a closely related compound but it means, instead, to turn against or go backwards. It is the root of our word perversion. If you are perverted, you go against the current, the grain, the prevailing winds. 

Perversions are often, but not always, sexual in nature. In the sexual context, according to Kinsey in his now antiquated but still revelatory reports, any sexual activity not in direct service of procreation can be considered perverse. That, needless to say, covers a lot of sexual activity when it comes to human beings, including, of course, all those activities Freud termed fetishistic, the most common of which happens to be podophilia: love of the odd and ordinary human foot. The foot that connects us to this earth and our pedestrian activities upon its surface, the most pedestrian of which is, of course, walking—an extraordinary anatomical feat, completely unique in the animal kingdom, and, according to kinesthesiologists, the most complex of all human motor activities. Indeed, walking is a such a truly precarious balancing act, we only mange to avoid falling with every step because of the gracefully interwoven interactions of our vestibular, visual, and proprioceptive senses and their neurological links to our feet, which serve as both platforms and levers, all 52 bones and 66 joints working in fine-tuned coordination to keep the bizarre orientation of our almost perfectly vertical structures more or less upright even as we make our way—with or against the current—in this world.
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