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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on February 7, 2012
a fascinating look at the
future. some ideas to think about: are retirement homes too oppressive? is a community of singles of mixed ages more satisfying? should we try harder to find away to help those who are poor and isolated? the book is too short for the price and too focused on new york city, but has some intensively researched insights.
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on June 29, 2013
I found this book helpful and encouraging. I have been living alone for part of the year for many years,at my little farm in rural TN, but now I live there alone full-time. There are many things that I love about it: the quiet and solitude, and the autonomy. I can arrange my space exactly as I want it. It turns out that these are the things that other people love about living alone too, according to this book. People are choosing to live alone "because they can."
That is, people all over the world are finally affluent enough and free enough from the former constraints of family and marriage to live alone if they want to.

This book also discusses some of the down sides of living alone. Sometimes it can feel a little scary, particularly for older people who feel vulnerable. Indeed, the author began this study after he wrote a book about a heat wave in Chicago that killed a lot of older people who were living alone with nobody to check on or help them. But people who live with others also often feel anxious and dissatisfied, particularly people trapped in bad marriages. Everybody wonders sometimes if they might be better off in a different situation.

In the United States, we do little to mitigate the risks of living alone, particularly for older people. Our health care system is barely adequate, and people fall through the cracks. Klinenberg contrasts the situation in the U. S. to the much better environment for urban singles in Sweden. There, the social safety net makes it possible for people to feel supported by the whole society: there are generous parental leave policies for everybody, including single mothers, and access to health care is free and universal. As a result, 60% of adults in Stockholm live alone. The Swedes decided to build housing that caters to single people, including some special housing for single mothers, because they want to give people of all ages the opportunity to have their own places. They see that as a social good, especially for young people just starting out. They also understand that the life cycle of an adult includes times when you might live with another person, and times when you live alone, and that's normal.

The author researched urban single life exclusively, in part because cities make it easy for people who live alone to socialize with each other. He acknowledges that he did not talk to rural people who live alone. I am one of these rural singletons, and I know many other people who live alone in small towns and rural areas. Community can be just as strong, perhaps stronger, in rural areas as in dense cities. There may be more physical space between our houses, but my neighbors and I see each other every day. We check on each other, do little favors for each other, and share the produce of our gardens. It is a small community, and some of us are getting old, but it is close-knit, and I expect the older people to be able to stay in their homes for a long time yet, with the support of their neighbors.
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on August 17, 2012
I saw the author on CBS This Morning and was compelled to write the book. Yes, he's done his research--both historically and today. The increase in living alone is a relatively nascent trend and Klineberg does a good job explaining its causes. The book is strongest when conveying the first-hand experiences of singletons. Towards the end, for whatever reason the book lost steam with me. I would have preferred another 50 pages or so explaining more of the causes of this phenomenon. This is a big topic and the book just felt a little light, but I certainly enjoyed reading it.
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on August 28, 2012
Going Solo
The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

By Eric Klinenberg

Who doesn't know someone who lives alone--who has for years and seems happy--is happy?

This new trend is setting an entirely new paradigm for how we live, where we live and the amenities this growing population demands. The statistics surrounding this relatively new phenomenon are staggering since for the first time in history, huge numbers of humans have started to settle down as what author Klinenberg refers to as Singletons. (Singleton is an author-created term that refers to those who live alone--no children, no romantic partner, no roommates.)

"Today, more than 50% of American adults are single--roughly one out of every seven adults--live alone."

Since living alone is so new to our society as a whole, we have no clear cut rationale to deal with it in a positive and supportive way. The old-fashioned premise, especially for women, that living alone is only a stage before landing that romantic partner is just that--old! Author Klinenberg is quick to point out that his entire study only deals with the culture of modern cities which allow for the expression of individual eccentricities and permit experiments with new ways of living.

The author's extensive research came to light and was later funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation after the publication of Heat Wave. This new social arrangement came into the public interest after the 1995 heat wave left hundreds of people in America's inner cities so isolated that they ultimately died alone. To understand how this could have happened, the best thing to do was go backwards to find the source.

"Today more that 5 million Americans under 35 have places of their own. Many of the young adults who live alone were brought up to do so. Not explicitly...they developed the capacity and desire to live independently through another, historically novel experience: growing up in a room of one's own."

Today, in many middle-class communities parents feel negligent if they don't provide a private bedroom for each of their children. This was once considered a luxury, but in recent times it's an entitlement of the middle-class and it usually begins around the age of eight. The rise of Latchkey Kids and private rooms within the home is an international experience.

And then there came this new trend that has literally changed everything--the digital age. In many cases, those living alone are socially overextended, and hyperactive use of digital media keeps them ever busier.

"Singles and people who live alone are twice as likely as married people to go to bars and dance clubs. They eat out in restaurants more often, are likely to take art or music classes, attend public events, and go shopping with friends."

Fast forward to Americans over 65, one in three--live alone--and the numbers living alone only increase with age and are primarily women. The book suggests we should no longer continue our journey through life solely supporting the concept of marriage being the end-all and that being single is something to abhor. Instead, we need to come to the realization that it's here to stay and that we need to create places for all to flourish.

Here-in lie the many faces of independence--isn't it time we celebrate all of them?
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on August 4, 2012

"The primary sources of original research that I use in this book are ethnographic observations and long-form, semi-structured interviews with more that three hundred people who live alone. In addition, I draw on interviews with people who assist, interact with, or design for those who live alone, including social workers, family caregivers, community organizers, political officials, urban planners, architects, and scientists working on artificial intelligence.

All of the ethnographic observations and interviews took place in major metropolitan areas, and it should be clear that THIS BOOK IS PRIMARILY ABOUT LIVING ALONE IN CITIES [my upper case emphasis added]...The majority of the research presented here took place in four boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens)...The fieldwork also extended to other metropolitan regions including the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, and Stockholm. And the research included extensive reviews of the secondary literature on living alone in many parts of the world, such as England, France, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Brazil.

I used different methods to recruit subjects from each of the following four groups of people who live alone:

[1] young adult professionals (between the ages of 28 and 40)
[2] middle-age middle-class adults (ages 40 to 65)
[3] poor men in single-room occupancy hotels (ages 30 to 65)
[4] and the old (ages 65 and above)."

The above comes from the appendix of this interesting and relevant book by Eric Klinenberg. Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology at New York University and an author.

In order to understand this book, it's important to understand what a sociologist does. In the case of living alone, it is their job to uncover the shared experiences that reveal something about the fundamental features of solo life. That is, to uncover general social phenomena on going solo.

It should be mentioned that this is not a "feel-good" book for those that live alone in cities (which is clearly rising rapidly). It instead gives, what I felt, a fair and balanced account of being a "singleton" (people who live alone). It tears down the myths that surround living alone, and creates a clear picture that addresses the rewards and challenges of solo living.

Finally, the only problems that I had with this book are as follows:

(1) It would have been beneficial to have the important information in the appendix (some of which I quoted above) at the very front of the book (perhaps as a preface) instead of being buried at the back in an appendix.

(2) There is one chapter on those who are down on their luck. It is understandable that such people will feel lonely and even alienated. I felt that this chapter dragged and could have been substantially shortened.

In conclusion, this is THE book for understanding one of the least discussed and thus poorly understood issues of our time!!

(first published 2012; introduction; 7 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 235 pages; appendix; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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on March 24, 2014
Overall, a very well-rounded look into the ways single people live in many countries. It was more a commentary on how living and being alone restores us so we can more effectively interact with the world than it was a look at people who are just happy being alone without the intention of running into social scenes.
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on March 9, 2013
Being independent, single, professional and a world travel has its benefits.
I am now realizing we are not all that rare.
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on December 31, 2012
This is a worthwhile read and many singles will see themselves in it. There are certain things that I wish were explored a bit more, but overall an informative and enjoyable read.
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on November 22, 2012
reaffirming for singles of all ages...excellent thoughts for today's and tomorrow's infrastructure, with huge implications for the way we design cities and lifestyles! Wow!
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on January 30, 2016
Interesting book. Id liked to have read more though about living solo is changing housing, food, transit, etc. It seemed to focus a lot of living solo when old.
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