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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 34/100: Going Solo - The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klineberg

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone - Eric Klinenberg

I read this book to see if it might be a good recommendation for a friend who recently ended a relationship and now finds herself living alone. It is an interesting overview of the growing trend of living alone, speculating on what it is in our culture that makes this increasingly more appealing. It does a good job of covering a wide range of experiences, spending some time on the various age cohorts likely to live alone (young adults, divorced middle-aged, widowed elderly, etc.) I also appreciate that it looks at how living alone differs for those who lack monetary and/or social support, even though it also acknowledges that going solo is most feasible for those who are financially stable.

I found myself wondering what I would have thought of this book if I'd read it during my years of living alone. I agree that it's an important rite of passage and I still look back on those years with a lot of fondness and nostalgia. I remembered encountering a lot of the issues covered in the "young adult" section. Still, something about this book fell flat to me. Its assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of living alone are balanced; its call for housing and communities that are more responsive to the needs of those who live alone ring true. And as someone who strongly identified with the <a href="http://www.quirkyalone.net">QuirkyAlone movement</a> when I was single, I was particularly interested in Klinenberg's interviews with Sasha Cagen and the ambivalence she now feels about the movement she started.

Perhaps what I felt was missing was a stronger affirmation of living alone, or more ideas for the best ways to make it work. It's more a survey of living alone as it stands than a guidebook for those who are in that situation. As such, it didn't feel like a particularly valuable book to recommend to my friend, and while it was interesting to me, I'm not sure it's one that will stick with me all that long.