Synopses & Reviews
A revelatory examination of the most significant demographic shift since the Baby Boom—the sharp increase in the number of people who live alone—that offers surprising insights on the benefits of this epochal change
In 1950, only 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single, and 31 million—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone. People who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households, which makes them more common than any other domestic unit, including the nuclear family. In GOING SOLO, renowned sociologist and author Eric Klinenberg proves that these numbers are more than just a passing trend. They are, in fact, evidence of the biggest demographic shift since the Baby Boom: we are learning to go solo, and crafting new ways of living in the process.
Klinenberg explores the dramatic rise of solo living, and examines the seismic impact it’s having on our culture, business, and politics. Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes. Drawing on over three hundred in-depth interviews with men and women of all ages and every class, Klinenberg reaches a startling conclusion: in a world of ubiquitous media and hyperconnectivity, this way of life can help us discover ourselves and appreciate the pleasure of good company.
With eye-opening statistics, original data, and vivid portraits of people who go solo, Klinenberg upends conventional wisdom to deliver the definitive take on how the rise of living alone is transforming the American experience. GOING SOLO is a powerful and necessary assessment of an unprecedented social change.
"Tackling the growing phenomenon of living alone, sociologist Klinenberg (Heat Wave) examines the roots of the trend in the modern cult of the individual, the feminist liberation from the 'burden of the Ã¢Â€Â˜women's role' in marriage,' and the Greenwich Village bohemians of the early 20th century. Now, with divorce rates soaring and employment stability at a low, Westerners have gotten used to moving fluidly among cities, jobs, and partners, putting off marriage. At the same time, young people have reframed solo dwelling as a first step into adult independence, shaking some of its old stigma. Klinenberg portrays a number of young urban professionals who enjoy the good life and stay hyperconnected through social media; middle-aged divorcÃ©s with little faith in marriage and a fierce desire to protect their independence; widows and widowers forging new networks in assisted living facilities. On the flip side of the coin are the isolated and the poor, homebound by disabilities, forced into single-room occupancy dwellings by poverty, addiction, or disease. With such wide-ranging lifestyles, singletons often find it hard to band together to promote their social and political causes. Still, they share a number of common difficulties, and Klinenberg takes an optimist's look at how society could make sure singles young and old, rich and poor can make the connections that support them in their living spaces and beyond." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A book so important that it is likely to become both a popular read and a social science classic. . . . This book really will change the lives of people who live solo, and everyone else . . . thorough, balanced, and persuasive.”
"Today, as Eric Klinenberg reminds us in his book, Going Solo, more than 50 percent of adults are single . . . [he] nicely shoes that people who live alone are more likely to visit friends and join social groups. They are more likely to congregate in and create active, dynamic cities."
“Fascinating and admirably temperate . . . [Going Solo] does a good job of explaining the social forces behind the trend and exploring the psychology of those who participate in it.”
“Trailblazing.” -Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
“Going Solo examines a dramatic demographic trend: the startling increase in adults living alone. Along the way, the book navigates some rough and complicated emotional terrain, finding its way straight to questions of the heart, to the universal yearning for happiness and purpose. In the end, despite its title, Going Solo is really about living better together—for all of us, single or not.”
“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.”
“This book takes a wide-ranging look at a topic that applies to many of us, even if we don't realize it.” -Associated Press
“Thought-provoking . . . Mr. Klinenberg argues that singletons comprise a kind of shadow population that’s misunderstood by policymakers and our culture writ large. Going Solo is an attempt to fill in the blanks— to explain the causes and consequences of living alone, and to describe what it looks in everyday life. . . . Klinenberg renders [these] stories vividly but also with nuance.”
“[Going Solo] serves as a good reminder that single living is alive and well.” -The Atlantic
“Klinenberg’s research is meticulous…Going Solo makes much of the distinction between being alone and feeling alone, between desiring company and craving personal space. Klinenberg debunks the notion that living alone is always a transitional phase en route to domestic bliss with a partner or spouse.” -The National Post
“Going Solo is invigoratingly open-minded.” -New York Observer
“As Klinenberg shows, this country is getting more single by the minute. The facts are astonishing.” -Bookforum
“Klinenberg takes an optimist’s look at how society could make sure singles—young and old, rich and poor—can make the connections that support them in their living spaces and beyond.” -Publisher's Weekly
“An optimistic look at shifting social priorities that need not threaten our fundamental values.” -Kirkus Reviews
“Klinenberg paints a compelling picture of the new trend toward ‘singletons’… Klinenberg is at ease in both scholarly and popular milieus, and his book is recommended for libraries and individuals in both worlds.” -Library Journal (Starred Review)
“[Klinenberg] leavens his copious array of statistics with dozens of anecdotes about individuals who live alone either by choice or by circumstance...This book is a catalog of possibilities.” -BookPage
“Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo is a tour de force—a book that is relevant, engaging, and deeply insightful. An increasing number of Americans are living by themselves, whether as twentysomethings or eightysomethings. Klinenberg tears down the myths that surround living alone, creates a nuanced picture that celebrates the advantages, and details the challenges of going solo. This is a fascinating volume that infuses serious social-science research with captivating personal stories.” -Edward Glaeser, author of Triumph of the City
“Eric Klinenberg has written a searching book on living alone. He shows the depth of this experience in modern society, its richness as well as its pains. Going Solo gives a fresh slant to debates about the organization of cities, and illuminates the philosophic quest to understand solitude. Klinenberg writes to communicate, rather than to impress. A necessary book.” -Richard Sennett, author of Together
is a terrifically revealing work and an important reminder: the design of cities and communities must go beyond architecture and the environment to reflect the way people want or need to live. Eric Klinenberg’s account of how living alone has changed the modern metropolis should be required reading for anyone who cares about cities."
-Kate Ascher, author of The Heights and The Works
“A fascinating, even-handed exploration of the rise in solo living, addressing its rewards and challenges for individuals as well as its far-reaching implications for society. Illuminating.” -Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, A History
“Going Solo brilliantly explores an overlooked phenomenon with significant implications, and debunks longstanding cultural myths that have prevented us from understanding the rise of living alone. Instead of lamenting the decline of community, Klinenberg calls attention to the innovative ways we’re connecting with others while also creating space for reflection and personal growth. He entices us to rethink the very essence of home, personal relationships, and community. It’s an absolute must-read for anyone who’s curious about contemporary social life, and especially for those who fret that technology is making people more isolated.” -danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research and co-author of Hanging Out
"The Most Conversation-Generating Book About How We Live Now:
This non-fiction book has led to coverage and related stories in just about every major media publication, from the New York Times
to the The New Yorker
to The Guardian...
Kudos to Klinenberg, an NYU sociology professor, for providing this well-researched and compelling exploration into the utterly contemporary topic of living alone, and opening up so many discussions of what it all means about us as individuals and as a society."
—The Atlantic, "Books We Loved in 2012"
“A book so important that it is likely to become both a popular read and a social science classic... This book really will change the lives of people who live solo, and everyone else... thorough, balanced, and persuasive.”
“Today, as Eric Klinenberg reminds us in his book, ‘Going Solo, more than 50 percent of adults are single…[he] nicely shows that people who live alone are more likely to visit friends and join social groups. They are more likely to congregate in and create active, dynamic cities.”
—David Brooks, The New York Times
“Fascinating and admirably temperate…[Going Solo] does a good job of explaining the social forces behind the trend and exploring the psychology of those who participate in it.”
—Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal
—Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
"Going Solo examines a dramatic demographic trend: the startling increase in adults living alone. Along the way, the book navigates some rough and complicated emotional terrain, finding its way straight to questions of the heart, to the universal yearning for happiness and purpose. In the end, despite its title, Going Solo is really about living better together—for all of us, single or not."
—The Washington Post
Praise for Its Not You
"In this comforting love letter to single women, journalist Eckel tackles 27 common criticisms trotted out to unmarried ladies of a certain age—and sets each of those chestnuts on its ear. Advocating for the women who want to marry but havent yet found their match, the author picks apart clichéd observations such as “youre too picky,” “you should have married that guy,” “you have low self-esteem,” and “youre too desperate,” offering sensible responses for when these questions inevitably come up. Eckel sagely points out that “when you stop picking apart your personality and endlessly replaying the game tapes of your previous relationships, you clear a lot of mental space,” and she rationally discusses why each of these “truisms” are utterly wrong, funneling many through a Buddhist viewpoint while sharing her adventures with meditation and her own stories about dates gone wrong. Eckel also encourages women to examine whats right with their lives, rather than whats wrong—something very difficult to do when society is passing judgment, she acknowledges, but a necessary step nonetheless. A must for any single womans personal library, this book will lend hope to the millions of unattached women who want to believe love is on the horizon." --Publishers Weekly
"What makes Its Not You stand out amid myriad dating guides is Eckels tone: devoid of sass for sasss sake, calm without preaching." -Elle
“Its Not You provides a cheering reminder that life is complicated, and so are people. Instead of torturing yourself with a self-improvement checklist, she asks, why not see yourself 'as a flawed but basically lovable human being?'” --The Boston Globe
“Its Not You masquerades as self-help, but its really a manifesto, a radical declaration of truths that shouldnt be all that radical but somehow are nonetheless. Sara Eckel does what no one writing about singleness has yet had the guts to do. She points out that coupling up is often nothing more than a matter of luck and that conventional wisdom about love is no substitute for real wisdom about life—something she has in spades.”
—Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth
“Finally! Someone said it: Being single does not mean youre broken. Thank you, Sara Eckel, for speaking up and turning the tables on anyone who dared point their needling finger at poor old singletons negotiating the process of looking for love. Its Not You is a smart and sane respite from the incessant chatter of relationship self-help that places the single person in the middle of a perpetual makeover project. Eckel deftly argues why you dont need any of it, and shell make you think about dating in an entirely new light. Her book is fresh, relatable, funny, and empowering, and Im only one percent mad at her for not writing it sooner. Mostly, I just want to hug her and so will you.”
—Rachel Machacek, author of The Science of Single
“Debunking the myths and well-meaning advice lobbed onto single women today, Sara Eckels Its Not You is like soothing guidance from a best friend in book form. Fearless, funny, and wise, its a reminder to single women everywhere that the best antidote to the overwhelmingly negative dating feedback that prevails is self-compassion.”
—Ava Chin, “Urban Forager” columnist and author of Eating Wildly
“Sara Eckel has composed an electrically charged response to a world still eager to tie a womans value to her marital status. Its Not You is a thorough and thoughtful debunking of the myths of blame routinely foisted on women who have not (yet or ever) found mates. Eckel is funny, compassionate, and righteously resistant to the lies women are told about how personal shortcomings have damned them to singlehood, while smartly standing up to assumptions that theres anything wrong with unmarried life to begin with.”
—Rebecca Traister, author of Big Girls Dont Cry
“Its Not You is a funny, thoughtful, and long-overdue response to every well-intentioned tool who insists single women are single because theyre ‘too something: picky, available, desperate, intimidating, nice, negative, attractive, or, I dont know, averse to clog dancing. Instead, she assures us were fine. The only problem? We simply havent met the guy of our dreams yet.”
—Diane Mapes, author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World
“Sara Eckel counters prevailing myths about dating and marriage, and offers solace and very helpful advice to those who feel pained by prolonged singlehood. Above all, this book will resonate with readers because of the way she shares her own struggling, vulnerable heart.”
—Gabriel Cohen, author of Storms Cant Hurt the Sky
“Part Buddhist teacher and part social critic, Sara Eckel tells single women what we older-to-marry folks wish we could go back to say to our own younger self-doubting unmarried selves.. . . This book is a refreshing study of women realizing the best potential of feminism: to realistically accept both the challenges, and the triumphs, of living life on ones own terms.”
—Paula Kamen, author of Her Way, All in My Head, and Finding Iris Chang
With eye-opening statistics, original data, and vivid portraits of people who live alone, renowned sociologist Eric Klinenberg upends conventional wisdom to deliver the definitive take on how the rise of going solo is transforming the American experience. Klinenberg shows that most single dwellers—whether in their twenties or eighties—are deeply engaged in social and civic life. There's even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles. Drawing on more than three hundred in-depth interviews, Klinenberg presents a revelatory examination of the most significant demographic shift since the baby boom and offers surprising insights on the benefits of this epochal change.
Why am I still single?”
If youre single and searching, theres no end to other peoples explanations, excuses, and criticism explaining why you havent found a partner:
Youre too picky. Just find a good-enough guy and youll be fine.”
Youre too desperate. If men think you need them, theyll run scared.”
Youre too independent. Smart, ambitious women always have a harder time finding mates.”
You have low self-esteem. You cant love someone else until youve learned to love yourself.”
Youre too needy. You cant be happy in a relationship until youve learned to be happy on your own.”
Based on her popular Modern Love column, Sara Eckels Its Not You challenges these myths, encouraging singletons to stop picking apart their personalities and to start tapping into their own wisdom about who and what is right for them. Supported by the latest psychological and sociological research, as well as interviews with people who have experienced longtime singledom, Eckel creates a strong and empowering argument to understand and accept that theres no one reason why youre singleyou just are.
About the Author
Sara Eckel has been a freelance writer for more than fifteen years. Her essays and reported pieces on personal growth and mental wellness have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Nerve, Glamour, Self, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Martha Stewart Living, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her short fiction has been published in Speakeasy and Sanskrit. For five years, she wrote a nationally syndicated opinion column on political issues that appeared in more than 200 daily newspapers. She has been awarded writing residencies at the Ucross Foundation, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, as well as grants from The Hershey Family Foundation and the Jerome Foundation.