- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition edition (Feb. 2 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781594203220
- ISBN-13: 978-1594203220
- ASIN: 1594203229
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #371,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone Hardcover – Feb 2 2012
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"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
“Klinenberg convincingly argues that the convergence of mass urbanization, communications technology, and liberalized attitudes has driven this trend.” — Slate.com
“Cliché-shattering.” — Newsday
“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.” — Christian Science Monitor
“[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
"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."— 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
About the Author
Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology at New York University and the editor of the journal Public Culture. His first book, Heat Wave, won several scholarly and literary prizes and was declared a "Favorite Book" by the Chicago Tribune. His research has been heralded in The New Yorker and on CNN and NPR, and his stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and on This American Life.
Top customer reviews
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I would recommend it to everyone.
"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:
 young adult professionals (between the ages of 28 and 40)
 middle-age middle-class adults (ages 40 to 65)
 poor men in single-room occupancy hotels (ages 30 to 65)
 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>>
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?
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
With regard to introverts, it is striking that Klinenberg does not even refer to Anneli Rufus and her book 'Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto'. This is a must-read for anyone writing about living alone. Klinenberg's bias towards extroverts and those who need interaction with others in order to maintain their mental health shows over and over again, especially in his writing about elderly people. For many people, reaching middle age and beyond is a wonderful time when at long last we no longer have to be around other people all the time and can enjoy that solitude we have been craving for decades. Those of us who are true introverts never need to worry about "filling empty hours" - it's unthinkable. We've spent our lives waiting for a time when we actually have more time to devote to the hundreds of things we've never had a chance to do because we had to spend so much of our time working. Klinenberg's cautionary tales about becoming ill are worth reading, especially in a country with such a horrific health care system, but he focuses solely on the really sad, horrible tales, mostly limiting his discussion to NYC.
Meanwhile, out in what Stephen Colbert would call "the heartland," there are millions of elderly people who are not wasting away alone in some SRO or nursing home, but who are instead enjoying an excellent quality of life, living independently in apartments and cottages that are part of retirement communities that provide round-the-clock health care when needed. My mother has lived in such a community very independently for the past 20 years and she loves it (she will be 90 this year). She and my father were not wealthy (they were educators), but they saved up their money, made some sensible investment decisions, sold their house and moved to a retirement community in their 70s when they were both still healthy. Today my mother is very active, goes out, attends cultural events, volunteers, has dozens of friends, gets excellent medical care, usually eats one meal a day with friends in the central dining room, and can still cook for herself. Having gotten to know her friends and a host of other elderly people living in nearby retirement communities, this is a common tale, not an exception. There are many such places dotted across the US, and although some of them are prohibitively expensive - and not worth the cost - most are just as affordable as living in an apartment complex.
So don't let Klinenberg's book scare you. It's a very incomplete work written by a clearly biased individual. Yes, it's important to get the word out that living alone is becoming increasingly popular, so he deserves praise for doing that. However, this change in living styles is a cause for great celebration, in my opinion. At last we can live the way we want to rather than putting up with the old models of marriage, family, kids, ad nauseum! Notice how difficult it is, even for an 'objective sociologist' to put a positive spin on this revolutionary change? For those of us who have lived alone for years and love it, the appeal is not 'surprising' at all.