September 28, 2012

Book Review: "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone" by Eric Klinenberg

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So Kim finally wrapped up her "summer" reading. I know. I know. It was no fault of the book, just my lack of time. I've been wanting to finish Eric Klinenberg's "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone" book for quite some time. I first saw him on the Bill Maher show talking about his book and then in April (yes... that long ago) he was at the Single Edition blogger conference. I was interested in reading this book because I've been living alone for nearly 7 years and I love it. Most that I run into think I'm crazy for loving living alone so it was great to hear Klinenberg talk about the astounding statistics of those living alone. I felt less abnormal. I can now add another minority group (although growing quite largely) to my list - singleton.

"Those who feel lonely actually spend no more time alone than do those who feel more connected" - John Cacioppo, University of Chicago Psychologist 

Klinenberg presents his argument with many clear, concise facts that are easily to follow. He sets out not to argue but present the fact that contrary to popular belief, those who live alone are not lonely. It is in fact a way of life that we have chosen for ourselves (I'm including myself in the we). In fact, living alone tends to force someone to be more social. Singletons (those who live alone) go out to dinner and engage regularly in social activities more often versus those who live with others.

"The suburbs are only a place I wish to visit, not live."

Singletons got started because of 2 groups: gays and feminists. My favorite! The started seeking refugee from social norms like getting married, having kids and moving to the suburbs. Many moved to Greenwich Village (a historical gay neighborhood in New York) to create small communities. Now in 2012, single women are a driving force not only in the economy but also elections. Single women became key voters during the Obama campaign with 20 million coming out to the polls.

Sherri Langburt who created believes that singletons are identifying themselves as such and tries to sell that group of individuals to advertisers. Many have been afraid to approach us and tend to only want to advertise to married women. Sherri is helping to change the social shift.

Another area singletons are having a major impact is the environment. The author points out that suburban life is not manageable for our eco-system. Having a 2,500 square foot house, 2 cars, driving to every errand you need to complete every day. Singletons tend to live in metropolitan areas where they walk or take public transportation to buy groceries or go out with friends. They also tend to live in multi-tenant buildings so they typically live in 500 square foot space or less. They basically are taking up less space, using less oil and therefore leaving a smaller carbon foot print on this Earth.

"There's nothing lonelier than living with the wrong person" - 61 year old Helen

Women were bred to be mothers/housewives and there was a big culture shift. Women soon decided they wanted to have a single life before getting married. Or perhaps they didn't want to get married and have kids. There were new possibilities to explore. Klinenberg's interviewers point out living out your single life in your 20s can help benefit your marriage later in life. You get to live with yourself, find out what makes you ticks and become independent. It's a great growing experience for any young adult.

What happens when you get old? The Baby Boomer population is the largest this country has ever seen and they are heading into retirement. Care for the elderly from the government was created when most Americans were only living til their 70s. Now we are living much longer so the funds are running out. Most don't want to live in a nursing home but elderly care is expensive. The author even talks about his own case with his mother where they spent $80,000 a year for her care. With so many elderly opting to live alone, there needs to be a serious discussion about how to provide care for them.

In the conclusion chapter, he uses the case study of Sweden. Swedes are encouraged to live alone. It is a cultural norm for young adults to get first apartment alone. Empty nesters down size to smaller apartments. Most adults don't move in together until they are married, preferring to keep their own apartments during the relationship. I WANT TO LIVE IN SWEDEN! (Although New York is the leading singleton city in the US). The Swedes truly believe this leads to fuller, happier lives. I couldn't agree more.

Would you read this book?


  1. This all makes sense. I LOVED living alone for the one year I did. Having no one to answer to was the best thing ever. I don't remember being lonely during that time either. I was mostly only home to feed my cat and unwind every once in awhile. I have to admit, I do miss it sometimes!

    1. Isn't it? I love coming home to peace and quiet. Well I think it's important to give yourself "me" time when you no longer live alone. Whether it's taking a bath, going to the movies alone or a spa. At least an hour to just breathe :)

  2. i live alone-this is my 7th year of it to-and i love it -mostly. would reay like to hunt down this book

    1. Congrats! I love it too mostly, of course it would be nice to have a man to cuddle with at night hehe Hope you read the book, let me know what you think :)


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