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Sex and The Single Girl: Before There Was Sex in the City, There Was (Cult Classics) Paperback – January 1, 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Helen Gurley Brown is a style and publishing legend who was the editor-in-chief of "Cosmopolitan" magazine for thirty-two years, and the author of books including "Sex and the Single Girl "and "The Writer's Rules". She lives in New York, NY with her husband, David Brown.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cult Classics
  • Paperback: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569802521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569802526
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mona Clee on May 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Isn't that an odd thing to say about a book whose title starts with the word "sex?"

Well, around 1964 one of my parents brought this book home, although neither of them would ever confess to the deed. Whoever it was, they did me a big favor. When the folks weren't watching, I swiped the book and devoured it in a single long sitting.

Helen Gurley Brown should have entitled this masterwork "All the Hard-Nosed Things that Young Women in the So-Called Pre-Feminist Era Need to Know about Money, Career, Independence, Women's Rights, and The Way Things Unfortunately Are. And Oh Yes, Sex. That." However, the book would undoubtedly have sold fewer copies if the title had truly reflected the contents, so it's just as well they hyped the sex part.

Under the impression that I was going to get to read some really naughty stuff, I studied Brown's book with the intensity I would later reserve for pre-calculus. Brown was the friendly, more experienced adult ("Aunt Helen," I liked to think of her) who cut the BS and told you how it really was with respect to a number of important subjects, often contradicting the messages of the dominant 60's culture, as it materialized later in the decade.

Money? Girl, Woodstock or not, you will need it when you are no longer "pristinely young," so get a career and earn it. You will appreciate the freedom and self-respect it brings you. Do the very best you can with whatever abilities you have and the education you can get, and the rewards will carry you through the inevitable bad times that everybody faces. Beauty? Even if you are gorgeous, don't put all your eggs in that basket, because your beauty will fade, and then where will you be if that's the only card you ever played? Love?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I read this book when I was 15 years old. I think one must read this book in the context of the social atmosphere of the 1960s. Consider first, what it meant to be a single woman before feminism really took off in the United States. Most of her advice is very sound: Educate yourself, dress well for your budget, personalize your look, maintain your hair and make-up, read and feel free to experience life.
Some of her advice, I think, is borderline-psychotic. In this book, Helen Gurley Brown encourages the single woman to "lift" things like lipstick and nailpolish from the dime store. She also stands by "The wine diet"...basically telling girls to drink wine instead of eating, to maintain a lithe figure. This, in my opinion, is insane. She also advises using dry shampoo. But, remember, this was back in a time where women didn't wash their own hair. They would go to the beauty salon once a week for a "wash & set" to lacquer their hair into unmovable shape.
While reading this book, keep in mind that feminism really hadn't swept the country, and affairs between executives and their office assistants was expected...regardless of marital status. I don't think "Sexual Harrasment" became a public issue until after this book was published.
Read this book with a grain of salt. Even though a good chunk of her advice is out-of-date, some of it is sound and rational. It's a great snap-shot of the 1960s pre-feminist mindset.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of relationship books for women and suddenly realized I'd never read the Mother of them all. HGB's cult classic is charmingly written (without her trademark overuse of italics, thank goodness!) and contains some good advice ... mixed in with the bad.

She exhorts single women to be prudent with their money, glam up their looks and to have an exciting social circle. All this is in addition to giving advice on when, where and how to meet attractive, successful men. Plus she gives some great recipes for entertaining. Read closely and you'll get some wonderful tips!

On the OTHER hand, she's quite cavalier about the ethics of dating married men and of having affairs with your coworkers even at the risk of endangering one's job. OK, so we can't legislate or dicatate our feelings. However, blatently encouraging such disruptive behavior is another issue altogether. In today's litigious climate I find this counsel questionable, especially to young, naive college grads who look up to Cosmo as "The Bible".
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By A Customer on August 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wonderful! Helen Gurley Brown was a real trailblazer. Many people make fun of her, but she was one of the first women in the popular press to declare that women are sexual creatures, too--real human beings with desires, fears and ambitions. Thank you, Helen. You're not perfect and I don't always agree with you, but you were one of the most influential 20th-century feminists.
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By A Customer on March 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
For someone like myself who has grown up with "everything is relative, make your own way, be yourself etc etc" you may be craving advice that doesn't just "sit on the fence."
This book is like having a naughty aunt whisper in your ear the "real facts" of life, love, men, apartments, food. Some advice may be a little dated, but curiously, not as much as you think.
My favourite quote, and there are many of them, is "When you work for toads, drain the pond..." I've repeated this to myself
many times in my first serious job after university working for loser macho men - and that's in a supposedly more "enlightened post-feminist" 2004!
I sincerely hope Helen is still living life to the fullest. It's a fun read.
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