Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman” as Want to Read:
Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  304 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Who can resist a book with chapters such as "A Lady and Her Liquor," "Pleasures of a Single Bed," and "Solitary Refinement?" In this priceless gem from a more genteel age, Marjorie Hillis provides no-nonsense advice for the single-but-hoping-not-to-be woman.
Hardcover, 154 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Virago UK (first published 1936)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Live Alone and Like It, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Live Alone and Like It

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 22, 2012 Jess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was adorable. Pertinent, no nonsense advice to the single lady, as appropriate--for the most part--today as in 1936. The bits about your lady's maid were the only evidence of dating. On the whole, uplifting but also sensible advice for living alone--and exactly what this single girl needed to hear.
Jul 22, 2008 HeavyReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of the history of single women in the United States
Shelves: how-to
I got this book to review for the Feminist Review blog. I have mixed feelings about this book, and don't know what rating to give it. I wish I could give it two and a half stars, but since I can't, I will give it the benefit of the doubt and give it three stars.

I will post the full review once I write it.

Here's the complete review from

Potential readers should know two things about this book. First, the author was an editor for Vogue. Second, it was a bes
Nov 22, 2012 Suvi rated it liked it
If someone had told me a few months ago what book I was going to read today, I would have laughed myself to death. This is so far from my taste in books it's unreal. Generally speaking I of course get a lot of fun out of those old-fashioned etiquette rules and advice for women (thanks Retronaut for the many laughs), but reading an actual book on those topics wouldn't have crossed my mind. However, when I stumbled across Hillis's book a while back, it just looked so cute and endearing, that I had ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Aneesa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs
I couldn't resist picking up a first edition of this book for far too much at that charming new shop at 21st and Valencia where people were two-stepping in the back and everything (including this book) was covered in sawdust. But I am not an "extra woman" living alone on $100 a month (yes, this book does include actual sample budgets from the year 1936!), so I bought it.

It is really an historical document, and made me think things were actually pretty far along in 1936 (at least in New York, alt
May 04, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
sounds like a self-help book, and in a way, I suppose it is. But it's so much more. . .
I found this book quite by accident--on a bargain shelf at an indy store in Asheville. I was travelling with a friend and we decicded it was too fun to pass up. We spent the next few days reading bits and pieces of it to each other and were soon referring to Marjorie regularly. For instance, I was debating about buying a dress, and Adrienne insisted that Marjorie would demand that I buy it. So I bought it.
At a
Jul 16, 2013 Asma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
Returned the book to the library, unfinished :D
This book was so old fashion, and from the 60 pages I read, I felt it was full of repetitions.
I guess the main idea was that people won't feel sorry/bad for you if you're living alone, and YOU are the one who has to go the extra mile to mingle with people so you wouldn't get bored. So obvious, I think!
Jan 26, 2017 Thegirlintheafternoon rated it really liked it
VERY of its time, but also quite fun.
Apr 19, 2013 Phyllis rated it it was ok
This book, originally published in 1936, is apparently the great-grandmother of all advice books telling single women how to live right lest anyone think they're totally pathetic for being all alone in cold, cruel world. Marjorie Hillis has a really arch style of writing that's appealing, but some of her case studies of various single ladies and what they did wrong are so condescending and petty they made me feel like I was reading an ungodly combination of HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN and SEX AND TH ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Maggie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Did I enjoy it? I did! This was such a cute little book, and even though a lot of the advice seemed outdated, it was a lot of fun to imagine the lives these ladies must have been living back in the 1930s!
Would I read it again? Yes. It was a quick read, and some of the advice in it I think could easily still be applied today.
Who would I recommend it to? Ladies living alone or looking for some no-nonsense advice about their single status!
Any other thoughts? I didn't pick this up because I was look
Jan 26, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to enjoy this witty little book as much as I did. Written by the editor of Vogue in the 1930s, it tells women living along to buck up and enjoy it. Since it is almost 80 years old, some of the advice seems a little dated, but overall it is remarkably timeless. There is a chapter where the author delicately broaches the topic of sex, and it is wonderful to find a book that doesn't just assume single women will be sleeping with boyfriends when they come along, but rather asks them ...more
Jun 09, 2012 Eileen rated it really liked it
I have an extremely high regard for this book because it is very likely indeed to make any reader snap out of a phase or circuit of feeling sorry for oneself and into actually doing and thinking and having an interesting time. Very highly recommended if you are in any way inclined to self-pity.

Personally, I have always had an excellent time living alone or in large groups and a less excellent time living with one housemate. This is because I have the horrific socialized-western-female tendency t
Jan 24, 2012 Kyle rated it it was amazing
This is a splendid little book. The specific practical advice about how many bedjackets a woman ought to own and how to throw a cocktail party featuring aquavit and cheese straws is, perhaps, a little out of date. But the overarching message about the pleasures of independence and the perils of self-pity is as true today as it was 80 years ago.

The illustrations are adorable, too.

This is the kind of book that you'd love to be able to give as a gift to that special single lady in your life (espe
Apr 19, 2015 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is the platonic ideal of 1930's society lady sass. I learned that there are four types of pajamas, and two of these are suitable for entertaining. That alone garners it five stars.
Oct 07, 2014 Sophia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Love this book; it's entertaining and informative. Written by Vogue Editor, Majorie Hillis, in the 1930s there's many truisms that are still relevant today.
Jun 29, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
from here on out my life manifesto.
Laura Hughes
Jan 21, 2017 Laura Hughes rated it liked it
Shelves: how-to
The basic idea is timeless and good: that you have to make the life you want, and nobody is going to do it for you; that's especially true if you find yourself living alone, whether that's what you wanted out of life or not. Rather than sit around feeling sorry for yourself, it's up to you to go out and make a happy comfortable home, just the way you like it, make friends, find hobbies, etc. Some of the specific advice is also still good, although you have to kind of squint around the historical ...more
Jan 11, 2017 Lisbeth rated it liked it
I'm generally not much for self-help, but who couldn't like Marjorie Hillis and her brisk, older-sister tone? This book is neat, practical, and surprisingly applicable 80 years later. One part "get over yourself" and one part "treat yourself," this is life advice I probably need and will endeavor to take. And if I end up buying new furniture and inviting friends to a civilized dinner party with no drinks more complicated than a highball, I know exactly who is responsible.

That said, I'm pretty s
Pamela Lessner
Aug 16, 2014 Pamela Lessner rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
It was quite by accident that “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE”, by “Princeton Mom” Susie Patton and “Live Alone and Like It” by Marjorie Hillis ended up on my nightstand at the same time. I read a few chapters of Patton’s and then a few chapters of Hillis’ wanting to compare the two. However, I soon found myself constantly checking the verso to see which decade, make that century, in which I was reading/living.
“Marry Smart”, hurriedly written in 2014 to capitalize on a letter gone viral
Elevate Difference
Potential readers should know two things about this book. First, the author was an editor for Vogue. Second, it was a bestseller in 1936. Those two facts should hint at for whom it was written and warn that much of it is outdated.

This book’s mixed messages caused me to have mixed feelings about it while reading. On the one hand, it empowers women by telling them they can live alone and not only survive, but also thrive. On the other hand, it implies time and again that any woman living alone is
Feb 05, 2011 Mommalibrarian rated it it was amazing
If you like the witty movied about The Thin Man or Cary Grant you will probably think this book is a hoot. It is a self-help book for women who for whatever reason find themselves single. There is advice for poor little shopgirls who have moved to the big city and are subsisting on $100 a month, divorcees for the nth time, and those who finally realize they are going to stay single forever. The illustrations have impossibly slinky ladies in big hats and floor length gowns. Everyone has a purse a ...more
Megan Winget
Jan 12, 2012 Megan Winget rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-m-woman
This is a great book - the Marjorie Hillis was a woman who lived alone, and liked it! It's not about how fantastic it is to not have a husband - she's not man-bashing in the slightest - but I think it probably helped many women sort of get on with their lives once they figured out that they probably weren't going to be young brides. And in the 1920s, I'd think that more women were coming to that conclusion, since WWI killed off lots of young men. It wasn't as bad as it was in Europe, where essen ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book was short (it would have been a quick read if I hadn't been reading other books). It was rather funny at times and offered some suggestions for improving your life. Written a the time when the rise of the 'lone female' was happening. Girls were going to cities to work and were living in apartments or alone in boarding houses. There were quite a few gems in the book. Here is a paragraph that struck me: " Almost all women are born with a belief that some man will marry and sup ...more
Melissa Schmidty -Schmidt
A Spinter's guide to Life circa 1936! It wasn't outdated enough to be quaint and/or unintentionally funny, containing some sound advice still peritnant today. Hillis emphasizes the importance especially of self care and "pampering", including recommending making a habit of serving yourself breakfast in bed, sleeping in lingeré, splurging on your evening meal (as well as encouraging you dine in a negligeé) and making efforts to make your dwelling warm and welcoming even when not expecting company ...more
Caroline Bennett
I bought this book when I moved into my first home rented alone. It was 2005. I followed this book to the letter. I bought a bed jacket, I tried to feed my friends sandwich paste, I ate breakfast in bed in a negligee (and bed jacket), I turned my wardrobe into a cocktail cabinet. Yes, everyone thought I was eccentric but I had an absolute ball.

I love this book so much. Her advice is amazing, gorgeous and cheerful. Like all her books, you feel bouyant after reading it. One piece of her advice is
Aug 31, 2015 Cassandra rated it really liked it
A full review is on my blog ( but in short, I loved this. It is a mix of bizarre cultural assumptions (of course one hires a maid for a dinner party, if one can afford it, because one has dinner parties and maids are easily come by) and actual down-to-earth advice about how to learn to enjoy one's own company, how to make friends, how to take care of yourself without too much self-indulgence, and other aspects of living on one's own. I found it surprising ...more
Sep 07, 2013 Dovile rated it liked it
Charmingly quaint. Seriously outdated, but well written and a fun to read. Despite the attitude that you can't be happy unless you have lots of friends and dinner invitations (which I found somewhat discriminating against those of us for whom any kind of large gathering is just short of torture, not to mention a waste of time), most of the advices are actually quite good, although if you're already living alone and liking it, you probably already have figured them out. I'd recommend this book to ...more
Sep 15, 2012 Norah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: a neighbour
I really don't know how this Bookcrossing book went and got lost in cyberspace. I registered it in the normal way, then it appeared with no journal entry, I searcheed in lots of ways and then finally found it here!!

My original comment was also lost in cyberspace.... I found it amusing, though really very dated but nice in a historical sort of way, and I think it did help a bit my recent change of circumstances though my last partner never actually lived all the time with me. As his daughter said
Peggy Corino
Sep 20, 2016 Peggy Corino rated it really liked it
This book contains practical advice in every area of struggle a woman may feel when she is living alone and having to fend for herself. Along with the practical advice, the author provides examples and answers to the most asked questions a woman may have. The only thing a reader may find as an issue is some examples are dated for the time the book was written, but overall, the advice given in Live Alone and Like It can be used and put into practice in today's society.

For a more detailed review,
Jan 03, 2016 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: 300
An interesting look into a particular time with some peculiar advice.
On hobbies: Be a Communist...
On grooming: ...there are hundreds who don't know the difference between a cleansing cream and an emollient--which to our minds is practically the same as being illiterate.
On liquor: Worse, even, than the woman who puts marshmallows in a salad is the one who goes in for fancy cocktails.
On breakfast: [condensed] Get up, have a shower, put on some makeup, put together a fancy breakfast tray, go back
Nov 27, 2016 Jane rated it liked it
Live Alone and Like It was first published in 1936, but it is still in print (my library’s copy is from 2008). I found it painfully dated (I don’t see myself hiring in a “colored maid” for the afternoon anytime soon (p. 91)) but occasionally insightful (“Most people’s minds are like ponds and need a constantly fresh stream of ideas in order not to get stagnant” (p. 57)).

It is mostly a disturbing glimpse into what it was like to be a single woman in the 1930s, and how society saw single women (n
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • London War Notes, 1939-1945
  • A Talent To Annoy
  • Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides
  • Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me: Lessons In Grace And Elegance
  • Practicalities
  • Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black
  • Pomfret Towers
  • All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours
  • You Need A Budget
  • Zipper Mouth
  • Swimming Underground: My Years in the Warhol Factory
  • Look Back With Love
  • Rollerderby: The Book
  • Letting Go
  • Selected Essays
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children
  • The Dancers Dancing
  • Devoted Ladies
Marjorie Hillis was the second child of Annie Louise Patrick Hillis of Marengo, Illinois, and Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis of Magnolia, Indiana, both authors. Mrs. Hillis wrote The American Woman and Her Home (1911). Dr. Hillis was a famed, though sometimes controversial, clergyman who had served as pastor of Plymouth Congressional Church, Brooklyn, from 1899 to 1924. Miss Hillis had a brother, Richar ...more
More about Marjorie Hillis...

Share This Book

“... not talking about things she doesn't understand to people who do or about things she does to people who don't.” 5 likes
More quotes…