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388 of 397 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 11, 2003
As a dyed-in-the-wool (and unrepentant) introvert, I wished, at first, that Anneli Rufus hadn't chosen the word "loner" for her title, linked as it is with inevitable prefix "crazed" in so many news stories of murderers on the loose. But that's exactly her point: Rufus is determined to rescue the word -- and more importantly, the reputation of the people the word accurately describes -- from the misinterpretations and calumnies heaped upon it, and us, for so long.
It's an uphill fight, but it's definitely worth the effort. This book isn't one of the many attempts to offer introverts "coping skills" or networking tips for surviving with our sanity in an extroverted world. Instead, it's more of a call to extroverts out there to understand whom you're dealing with ... or more correctly, whom they're not dealing with ... and what we're all about.
To do this, Rufus covers a wide range of history and popular culture, showing how introverts have carved out places for themselves and learned to live with at least some degree of peace, despite the constant tug of "caring" people crying, "Come out of your shell and live a little!" It may seem paradoxical for a loner to tell other loners "We're not alone," but in this instance, it's a surprisingly comforting message.
Rufus's chapter on crime may be the most important, and the one with the widest implications outside the introvert community (so to speak), because it's here that she tackles the myth of the murderous loner and attempts to salvage the word from those who, she argues, misuse it so terribly.
Loners, she says, are people who *want* to be alone. Who enjoy their solitude. But many of the criminals who have been tagged as "loners" don't fit that description at all. Many of them have been marginalized from society, and want to strike back at it. They want to impress others, and be accepted by those whose approval they crave. Or, like Mark David Chapman, the "pseudoloner" who killed John Lennon, they simply crave attention. There's no such thing as an "attention-seeking loner."
There are other criminals, she argues, for whom the "loner" label doesn't even remotely fit, and she roundly criticizes the police profilers and news reporters who use the term so sloppily. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, for example, wasn't a loner at all, though he's often described that way. Neither were the Columbine High School shooters, or Ted Bundy, or John Wayne Gacy, though all of them have been called "loners."
Her point is an important one, if one many may dismiss as mere semantics. And it ties into her other important chapter, on raising loner children. If parents believe -- as many apparently do -- that any child who prefers to play by himself is liable to grow up to become a mass murderer, and therefore needs to be "cured," or "trained" out, of his introvert personality, life for that child is simply going to be hell. Though my situation growing up was hardly as extreme as some of the stories told here, I nevertheless sympathized completely with children made to act more extroverted than was comfortable for them. Loner children recognize they're different, Rufus writes, but don't know why, or what about them needs defending. If their parents are convinced there's something "wrong" with the introverted child, and try to "fix" it, they will create wounds that may never close.
This book struck close to home for me, and I really enjoyed it. I'm comfortable enough in my introversion ... my "lonerism" ... not to need a defense for it. But I'm glad this book exists -- not just for my loner brothers and sisters, but for the great mass of extroverts who can't understand why we're so "shy," and why we seem to enjoy -- how sick! -- our time alone. In a world which seems convinced, as the author puts it, that the only things worth doing are things done with other people, her proud declaration that we're perfectly well adjusted, "just not to their frequency," is a deeply welcome one.
Loners of the World, don't unite! There's nothing wrong with wanting to be alone!
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185 of 191 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 1, 2004
Finally an answer to a loner's prayers! We are not as strange as the world wants to make us out to be afterall.
Anneli Rufus has done a magnificent job telling about life from a loner's perspective and making it all sound capable and NORMAL. She writes chapters on the loner in community, popular culture, films, advertising, friendships, love & sex, technology, art, literature, religion, sanity, crime, eccentricity, clothes, environment, solo adventures and at last childhood. The words are a true manifesto for a loner's hungry soul, finally another person who understands.
In a world where loners are thought to be strange, crazy serial killers who cannot conform to society, Rufus encourages the idea that most loners in truth are the great creators and contemplators of the world. Issac Newton, Michaelangelo, writers, artists and philosophers become necessary human beings within all of their secretiveness. Instead of being arrogant attention getting hounds most loners create from the heart and give without a need for recognition, the truly unselfish can be found only in those selfish enough to enjoy being alone.
I would have loved to have given this book to a teacher who I had as a child. I remember sitting in a room with my parents while they were told by the "teacher" that she felt I was somehow autistic and withdrawn and might need "special" education. Despite my A's, my ability to pay attention and my athletic ability I was labeled and marked as a failure in her eyes. I wonder how many children today are pegged as something they are not and guided in a wrong direction. It took me 40 years to figure out how unique and completely normal I really am but I would hope after reading this book many others could celebrate the adventure alot sooner. A must read for those of you with quiet, withdrawn children who would rather day dream than stand around with all the other cattle.
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189 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2006
Reading through the other reviews, it seems that the low-scores are given by people who personally disagree with the author's stance (rather than how well the book was written and the information was presented).

If you are an extrovert, if you think of loners as nerdy (I assure you we aren't), or if you just don't like books that enlighten a different facet of humanity, then I'm not sure you're going to "get anything" from reading this book.

If you are a loner (or think you might be, or aren't really sure), then this book is helpful. I found the author's writing agreeing closely with what I've felt all of my life but never discussed with others (loners rarely get together to discuss such things). It was reassuring to know that others out there think, feel, and have the same preferences as I do.

However, Rufus unfairly misrepresents the general public's attitudes about loners. The fact is, in my (adult) experiences, the vast majority of people are impartial to loners. I don't get the notion that most people hate, crucify, belittle, disrespect, or rebuke loners. In fact, I receive as much (or likely more) respect from friends, family, and coworkers because I am somewhat of a loner. I believe true loners are well-adjusted, quietly confident people who have excellent social skills balanced with the ability to find meaning to life during time spent alone. The author seems to be screaming at the world "Look at me! I'm alone and I'm happy and you'd better respect me for it!" Wrong approach.

That having been said, the book is still worth reading for those folks who consider themselves loners. There's enough information in the book to make it worthwhile, and the language and writing skills of the author make it very readable. However, you'll have to "filter" out the author's bile from what appears to be a hint of paranoia.
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102 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2003
This book seems to address various loner aspects of people who tend to live alone. One thing I haven't found yet is what about married loners (which the author is). She mentioned a couple times about their home-life but not much.
I haven't read the entire book (through 2/3 of it now) but wanted to post this message. As a loner person, I have always had trouble with my wife in terms of our relationship. She keeps saying that I don't love her because I don't "show it" by talking with her more, or spending more time with her. I do love her very much but it grates on her the way I am. If the act of talking is her measure of love, I have little chance. However, our family is great with great kids and all you'd ever want. Well, this book puts words to my feelings and I agree with much of it. I am a loner. This is not "bad" but different. What the wife and many people of the world must know is - we relish the time we have alone. We don't need to call a friend the moment that another friend leaves. Nor do we need constant human interation to be "happy". We don't hate social people or their actions. We just feel that much of it is "inconsequential". Introspectively, I am happy with myself - yet she questions my happiness and our love. This is what the book is written to show - the differences between loners and non-loners and how this gap can be closed by understanding.
I am hoping to have my wife read this book and understand me more. It may even save our marriage.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
When I was a little girl my teachers warned my mother that I was quiet and shy. I had a best friend and my own exciting internal world where I was never bored. Lucky for me my mother wasn't alarmed and didn't try to coax me into being more social - she accepted that I was like that by nature, and the fact that I was quiet didn't mean that I was a hopeless wreck who never had any chance of making it in this crazy old world. Loners don't need to be cured - and contrary to popular belief you can be self-confident and still prefer being alone a lot of the time.

Years later, here I am - perfectly able to function in the real world and around other people and yet I still prefer the company of just a couple of close friends and my own internal world. Anneli Rufus has it spot on in this respect. People who are quieter by nature are not desperate psychopaths who can't express themselves. They are the type of people who don't need to take a poll of a hundred friends before they make a decision. Don't get me wrong, I LIKE other people, but I don't necessarily want to spend my every waking hour with them or talking on a phone to them. I like shopping alone, reading alone, writing alone. I like contact with others - but I need to recharge afterwards.

The Loner's Manifesto is therefore an important book. The section on criminals and loners is absolutely fantastic - rich with insight and common sense. In today's society the term loner is bandied about to explain away every single serial killer and psychopath out there. Often true loners; people who like spending a lot of their time alone, are very happy that way. True loners - people who are HAPPY spending time alone - are not the types who would go around shooting a bunch of their classmates, because they enjoy being alone. It is only people who DON'T like being alone that get angry with others for rejecting them.

I give this book four stars rather than five because some of it I couldn't relate to. Yes, people are often cruel to loners. My personal experience though is that this mainly happens at school where crowds of kids think that anyone who likes reading and doesn't want millions of friends must be on par with Satan. Now I'm older people tend to let me be. People don't call me names for not being Ms. Social. In general people are quite tolerant, and in my daily life I am friendly and kind to other people, so they don't have a problem with me. My family and friends don't seem to think that I'm weird either, it's just the way I am. I thought that the author was overly critical of non-loners.

Overall, `The Loner's Manifesto' is essential reading for anyone who likes spending a lot of his or her time alone. The book is very informative and well-researched. Reading about famous loners is particularly interesting when you consider how much loners have contributed to society in terms of art, literature, film and so on. I didn't enjoy the Afterword, finding it quite upsetting, and sometimes the author is cruel towards non-loners (she calls them `the mob') but in general this book is thought provoking and self-affirming. I highly recommend it.

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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2003
Much like the other reviewer, I've looked and looked for a book that would speak to my soul -- now I've found it. The things I've never quite been able to put into words -- my skepticism about organized religion, for example -- she's found the expression for it.
This book can serve two purposes, I think. It is good for the loner -- even though we don't mind feeling alone, it helps to be able to shove this under someone else's nose and say, see, I'm not crazy. Really, I'm not. But it also serves to explain those strange folks who are happy to be by themselves to the rest of the world. Not all loners are child molesters or potential axe murderers.
This book demonstrates in clear, direct statements the benefits of having loners in society. We actually do deliver "the goods" if you will. We provide the imagination that makes the rest of the world work :)
This is a brilliant work -- one that rewards its readers again and again.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2003
Sometimes you wait your whole life to find a book that speaks directly to your heart. Party of One is that book for me! This world is full of loners...people who aren't shy, who aren't lonely, who just like to be by themselves...and never before has anyone even thought of them as a personality type worth discussing, much less defending! The sub-title says it all, this really is a manifesto for the loners of the world. Forget about Freud, forget about Jung, forget about the enneagram, forget about all the ways society has tried to classify and identify different types of people. This author has really hit the nail on the head. The world is divided into loners and "nonloners" (as she calls everyone else). And there's more loners than you think! Almost everyone's got a loner inside them too.
I've never heard of this author before but she made me laugh, she made me sigh, and she made me feel like I had a place in this world. Very highly recommended for loners, "nonloners," and anyone else who thinks they know what they're talking about when it comes to human beings.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2003
I always thought that it was "just me" that didn't think parties were fun. That being around people stole my energy and being alone seemed to restore it. Then PARTY OF ONE came long and showed me that I'm not alone. If you prefer solitude then Anneli's book will have you saying "that's me" at least once in every chapter. But the best part was understanding WHY I was feeling this way. And that's it's okay to be a loner.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2006
As an introvert, I immediately felt drawn towards this book from the very first lines of the introduction. The book is easy to read and the style is fresh and humorous while in tone with the subject. However, the more I read the more obvious it was that her honest defense of loners as normal people and her right-on descriptions of the feelings of an introvert were taunted by a constant need for overcompensation. Reading about some of her experiences and the way she felt marginalized, one necessarily has to wonder whether some loners do not marginalize themselves by looking down upon everybody else. The author goes as far as to suggest that creative powers are almost exclusive property of reclusive people, with no evidence except by long listings of eccentric geniuses, and to hint that socialization is an evolutionary appendix we should probably get rid off.

I greatly appreciate the affirmation that is OK to be a loner and that loners are perfectly normal people, I originally intended to give this book to some of my friends who simply cannot understand why some people prefer to be alone. However I do believe it hurts her point to try to convince herself and her readers that loners are some sort of superior breed and the salt of the world, it looks more like a coping mechanism than an honest explanation of why is fine to be different.

All in all, it is still a good read for loners who wonder if they are truly alone in the world, and for non-loners who wish to understand why some people choose to go alone to the movies.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2003
One day a few years back, I was sitting in a meeting at work with a group of friends and coworkers, and the pre-meeting conversation had somehow gotten onto one of my odd personal traits. The company receptionist stated the non-loner position very clearly: "We love you, but sometimes you scare us."
This is the first book that speaks clearly to loners; written by a loner, describing loners, for loners. We have friends, we have lovers, we have jobs; we just don't like to spend all (or most...or sometimes even any) of our time with other people. We are creative, sensitive souls, who need time alone with ourselves and our thoughts in great quantities.
I want to send copies of this book to my family, my friends, to every woman I've ever dated. And to Penny, so she'll know that what scares her is not's what I represent.
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