Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

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by Eric Klinenberg
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 ‘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 divorcés 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. (Feb.)
Slate.com

“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.”

BookPage

“[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.”

Christian Science Monitor

“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.”

Associated Press Staff

 “This book takes a wide-ranging look at a topic that applies to many of us, even if we don't realize it.”

Newsday

 “Cliché-shattering.”

The Atlantic

“[Going Solo] serves as a good reminder that single living is alive and well.”

Bookforum

“As Klinenberg shows, this country is getting more single by the minute. The facts are astonishing.”

New York Observer

Going Solo is invigoratingly open-minded.”

The National Post

“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.”

Library Journal
John Donne ("No man is an island") and evidence of the "marriage advantage" to the contrary, Klinenberg (sociology, New York Univ.; Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago) paints a compelling picture of the new trend toward "singletons." Not much has been written about the fact that more than 50 percent of Americans are now single, with 28 percent of the population (mostly women) actually living alone. Klinenberg identifies four circumstances that have allowed this to happen: recognition of women's rights; vastly improved communication systems; the growth of cities; and longer life spans. Where solitary time and exile were once considered punishments, people on their own today enjoy the personal and intellectual satisfactions that come from being self-reliant—something Emerson and Thoreau recognized centuries ago. VERDICT With articles in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Slate and appearances on the radio program This American Life, Klinenberg is at ease in both scholarly and popular milieus, and his book is recommended for libraries and individuals in both worlds.—Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Klinenberg (Sociology/New York Univ.; Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media, 2007, etc.) explores why "more than 50 percent of American adults are single"--and why the usually prefer to live that way. Solo living appears to be a global phenomenon that has skyrocketed over the past decade. The author examines both ends of the age spectrum in an attempt to understand the social implication of this trend. He finds that among relatively affluent young adults in the 25-to-34 age bracket, living solo is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood--a period allowing more sexual freedom, a chance to explore relationships without commitment and a major focus on career building. A similar increase in solitary living is becoming the norm among the elderly, where one in three people over 65 live alone--compared to one in 10 in 1950. This book is an outgrowth of a study conducted by Klinenberg following the publication of his book Heat Wave (2003), which investigated the tragic deaths of senior citizens during the extraordinary heat wave in Chicago in 1995. Interviewing elderly Manhattan residents who live alone, the author found that they preferred this to dependence on their children because of their strong belief in self-reliance. They reject the alternative of assisted living as prohibitively expensive and deplore the conditions in most nursing homes. Klinenberg suggests that public support is needed to provide affordable, urban assisted-living facilities in which the elderly can maintain their independence for as long as possible. An optimistic look at shifting social priorities that need not threaten our fundamental values.
Suki Casanave
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
Daniel Akst
“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.”
David Brooks
"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."
Slate
“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“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.”
Psychology Today
“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.”
The Washington Post
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.”
From the Publisher
“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.” — Psychology Today

“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

“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.” — Slate

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

“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.” — The Christian Science Monitor

"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." — David Brooks, The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594203220
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/02/2012
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
294,005
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Slate.com
“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.”
Richard Sennett
 “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.”
-BookPage
“[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.”
-The Atlantic
“[Going Solo] serves as a good reminder that single living is alive and well.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“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.”
Christian Science Monitor
“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.”
The National Post
“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.”
Associated Press Staff
 “This book takes a wide-ranging look at a topic that applies to many of us, even if we don't realize it.”
New York Observer
Going Solo is invigoratingly open-minded.”
-New York Observer
Going Solo is invigoratingly open-minded.”
Newsday
 “Cliché-shattering.”
-Slate.com
“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.”
-Richard Sennett
 “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.”
From the Publisher
"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.”
Psychology Today

“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

"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."
The Washington Post

 

Stephanie Coontz
“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.”
-Associated Press
 “This book takes a wide-ranging look at a topic that applies to many of us, even if we don't realize it.”
-Newsday
 “Cliché-shattering.”
-The National Post
“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.”
Edward Glaeser
“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.”
-Bookforum
“As Klinenberg shows, this country is getting more single by the minute. The facts are astonishing.”
-Kate Ascher
"Going Solo 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."

-danah boyd
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.”
-Edward Glaeser
“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.”
BookPage
“[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.”
Bookforum
“As Klinenberg shows, this country is getting more single by the minute. The facts are astonishing.”
Daniel Akst
“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.”
Kate Ascher
"Going Solo 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."
David Brooks
"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."
Danah Boyd
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.”
-Stephanie Coontz
“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.”
The Atlantic
“[Going Solo] serves as a good reminder that single living is alive and well.”

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