Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Single Man” as Want to Read:
A Single Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Single Man

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  16,759 Ratings  ·  1,233 Reviews
When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life: the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 20th 2001 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1964)
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 A Single Man, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James     BaldwinThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Best Gay Fiction
1,503 books — 1,900 voters
Middlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerTipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersMaurice by E.M. ForsterThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Best LGBTQIA literature
1,076 books — 1,153 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 28, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence.
I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”

We all
Sep 10, 2012 Tfitoby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, favourites
Christopher Isherwood has written a book that makes me hate him. Or maybe I hate myself? The main theme of this book is loss; loss of a lover, loss of youth, loss of identity, loss of direction, it's all there in beautifully phrased observations and it tickled that spot in my mind, the spot where I hide all of my fears, until I could no longer ignore the fact that I am and I continue to lose these things myself until one day the devastating and unthinkable will happen and I will lose that which ...more
Aug 19, 2012 julio rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Students of skribblecraft
Shelves: loved
I aspire.

It's listed as being 192 pages long, but I swear it's because the edition I read had fifty words a page with three inch margins an every side.

It's so economical it is more or less mind-blowing.

If my desire to express whimsy came from Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, and my inclination to be daring and irreverent came from David Foster Wallace and Stephen King

If my unruly imagination came from Bill Watterson, and my eye for alienation from Susan Cooper

If my lust for scale came from
Feb 21, 2010 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in the universe
This book is a truly beautiful thing; a completely exquisite experience. Page after page it spoke to me, as eloquently and profoundly as any book I've ever read. It was sad and funny and wise and observant without ever becoming sentimental or maudlin.

In 186 pages of concentrated, yet langorous, stream-of-consciousness prose Isherwood gets to the heart of what it means to be a middle-aged man, a loner, a fish out of water, an expatriate on several levels -- as a Britisher in a new land, a gay man
Steven  Godin
Even though there are positive reviews aplenty I still had concerns this would turn out to be an overly melodramatic letdown, but needn't have worried as what we have here is a compressed work of utter brilliance from a vastly undervalued writer who does not waste a single word making the reading experience flawless. There are two thing in particular to highlight that nailed it for me, firstly I do not believe Isherwood set out with the intention of writing a story wholly about about homosexuali ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, isherwood
An astounding piece of work; a day in the life of novel. The day belongs to George Falconer; an English professor in his 50s (English by nationality as well) teaching in southern California. It is set in the early 1960s. George’s lover Jim has recently died suddenly and he is alone again. The novel takes us from waking to breakfast, to travelling to work and so on. This doesn’t have the grandiosity of Joyce; it is much more straightforward and focuses living each day because of life’s brevity.
He pictures the evening he might have spent, snugly at home, fixing the food he has bought, then lying down on the couch beside the bookcase and reading himself slowly sleepy. At first glance, this is an absolutely convincing and charming scene of domestic contentment. Only after a few instances does George notice the omission which makes it meaningless. What is left out of the picture is Jim, lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also reading; the two of them absorbed in their boo
Bill  Kerwin
Sep 24, 2010 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

This witty, acerbic, elegant little novel should not be confused with the soggy, self-pitying movie of the same name.
Sep 22, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
For astronauts that had returned from walking on the moon, I imagine that the worst part of their experience was having to live out the rest of their lives. Every other event would be "after the moon"; all experiences would be measured by that yardstick; old and new relationships would orbit around that event.

This then makes me think about retired professional athletes, former world-stage politicians, etc. - do they also live out the remainder of their lives reflecting on the halcyon days of yes
K.D. Absolutely
Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was an English novelist who pioneered the writing of novels with gay themes in English literature. He was openly gay, lived with and befriended fellow gay men some of them were famous also like W. H. Auden and Truman Capote. At some points in his life, he also became friends and was mentored by E. M. Forster. In turn, when he met Ray Bradbury in a chance encounter in a bookstore, he wrote a glowing review for his The Martian Chronicles that helped launch the lat ...more
Sep 18, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficciones
A Single Man is a day in the life (quaint naturalist device, that) of a middle-aged Englishman and English professor grieving in a numbed, autopilot kinda way after the recent death of his partner. I remember Don Bachardy saying in the film Chris and Don: A Love Story that Isherwood wrote this novel during one of their trial separations; the intensity of George’s sense of loss was therefore underwritten by Isherwood’s own dreadful imagination of life without Don.

I loved George’s morning, and hi
Jul 10, 2016 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gem of a book. The style of writing is quite lyrical in a sense and beautiful itself, let alone having a great story line!
I finished it quickly and highly recommend the Audiobook version. Narration is stunning & adds a lot to it in my opinion!
I am not sure if I am just ignorant of what the humor was like in the 60’s, or if Christopher Isherwood was way ahead of his time, but this book definitely has what I would call a modern sense of humor. It’s that special blend of bittersweet heartbreak, self-deprecation, and sardonic wit. I am very familiar with this type of humor from my favorite movies and television shows, but I am pleasantly surprised to find it here, in this brilliant little book that, on the surface, appears to be about de ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Kimley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masks - we all wear them. We've got our work masks and our family masks and our friend masks. Then, try adding to that being a gay man living in the netherworld of not pretending to be straight but also not able to be fully out (the early 1960s). That's a lot of freakin' masks! And it's exhausting. And our hero, George, is tired, tired of the bullshit and hypocrisy. Thankfully, he still has a biting sense of humor and beware if you're on the receiving end of his satirical skewer. But George is a ...more
If you watched the 2009 movie version of this story starring Colin Firth before reading this book, be aware that the movie takes the story in... a different direction. Kinda sorta? It's different. For all of its similarities, it's different. I saw the movie first because I requested both from the library and the movie came in before the book, and the movies are only borrowable for a week, and who knew when the book was coming in, so I just sucked it up and did it.

These are both good stories. But
Ilenia Zodiaco
Nov 17, 2015 Ilenia Zodiaco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Che tipo di esperienza?".
"Be', posti in cui si è stati, gente che si è incontrata. Situazioni che si sono già vissute, di modo che quando si ripresentano riusciamo a fronteggiarle. Tutte quelle scemenze che, con gli anni, dovrebbero renderti saggio".
"Lascia che ti dica una cosa, Kenny. Degli altri, non posso dire niente - ma, per ciò che mi riguarda, non c'è niente che mi abbia reso saggio. Certo, mi è capitato questo e quello; e quando mi ricapita, mi dico ci risiamo. Ma non mi pare di ness
Oct 03, 2013 KatieMc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybook
Good things come in small well written packages. Christopher Isherwood has puts you the reader inside the skin of the protagonist, George, experiencing a day that is both mundane and extraordinary. The loneliness and isolation of a grieving (for all intents and purposes) widower is certainly a central theme. Because George is a gay man in the 1960s, his grief must be private. Even so, I did not read A Single Man as a gay rights protest piece; it was much more than that. Maybe it is just me, but ...more
Mar 08, 2014 Sofia rated it really liked it

Masterly writing, capable of taking me in the first pages to the 'place' where George lives. Isherwood's writing is full of the little truths of our everyday lives and his wit and social commentary channelled through George rings true not only for when the time this was written but for now also, after all circumstances change but human interaction remains the same. I ended up highlighting most of the book, so I will not quote. If you want quotes, just read the book.

(view spoiler)
Chiara Pagliochini
“Lo specchio, più che un volto, riflette l’espressione di una difficoltà. […] Lo sguardo provato è quello di un nuotatore o di un podista stremati; eppure, di fermarsi non se ne parla. L’individuo che stiamo osservando lotterà senza tregua fino al crollo. E non per eroismo. Perché non sa immaginarsi un’alternativa.”

Quand’ero verso la metà di questo libro, ho pensato che ad essere onesti lo si poteva riassumere con una frase sola, e non delle più complesse. Una frase minimale, quasi un inciso, to
Apr 20, 2014 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
21/4/14. I gave this 4 stars? Let me remedy that now, this is a 5 star read all the way, essential reading.

2012 review
How do you review a novel that literally terrifies you? I'm not sure I can do it justice but I'll give it a whirl.

For the several hours it took to read this short novel I went through a gamut of emotions. The novel is a day-in-the-life account of George Falconer, an English Professor in 1960's suburban California.

George is grieving the loss of his long term partner and it seems
Maria (Big City Bookworm)

I’ve been meaning to read A Single Man for quite some time now. I watched the film quite a while ago without realizing that it was based on a novel. I didn’t really remember much from the film before I decided to listen to the audiobook, but I did remember that the film was visually beautiful. I remember the cinematography being aesthetically pleasing and gorgeous, so if anything, I was hoping to get the same sense of beauty out of the audiobook.

I must say that A Single Man was very well written
Dec 07, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you review a novel that literally terrifies you? I'm not sure I can do it justice but I'll give it a whirl.

For the several hours it took to read this short novel I went through a gamut of emotions. The novel is a day-in-the-life account of George Falconer, an English Professor in 1960's suburban California.

George is grieving the loss of his long term partner and it seems that his vehicle for coping is the disassembling & examination of Self. The novel reads at times like an autopsy.
Barry Pierce
Probably the greatest and saddest ending to a book I have ever read.
Eleni Ouzouni
Jul 01, 2015 Eleni Ouzouni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Only 152 pages. So many emotions. I don't have words to describe.... This book Worth!
Dec 28, 2011 tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a rather lengthy, yet succinct standalone quote from this book's penultimate chapter that absolutely floored me. It gives away nothing, plot-wise, to those who have not yet read it:

Up the coast a few miles north, in a lava reef under the cliffs, there are a lot of rock pools. You can visit them when the tide is out. Each pool is separate and different, and you can, if you are fanciful, give them names, such as George, Charlotte, Kenny, Mrs. Strunk. Just as George and the others are thou

Mi andrebbe di consigliarvi questo libro, anche se di speciale non ha nulla.
È che, spesso, a voler trovare sempre quella pietruzza d'oro, quel lampo di luce che nobilita un romanzo - e lo innalza ad un livello superiore -, fa stancare, e secondo me è frustrante.
Non ci sono finali da godersi.
Nei dialoghi la vostra reazione sarà sempre un po' freddina.
Per non parlare dei personaggi - a volte insopportabili e con opinioni non sempre condivisibili.
Eppure, eppure... se ci si lascia andare, se si sco
Sep 10, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2016
Listening to this only made me appreciate the movie even more. And I don't mean that in a negative way. Sometimes the problem with reading the book after the movie is that you can't get that visual of the movie out of your head. So when the book deviated from the film I noticed and wondered and thought about the movie and oops - now I'm missing what the narrator has said. How long had my mind wandered? Damn! Rewind....

The book is wonderful. I love Isherwood's spare prose. The movie version does
Dec 04, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"But your book is wrong, Mrs. Strunk, says George, when it tells you that Jim is the substitute I found for a real son, a real kid brother, a real husband, a real wife. Jim wasn't a substitute for anything. And there is no substitute for Jim, if you'll forgive my saying so, anywhere." (29)
I bought two copies of Isherwood's A Single Man- one for my girlfriend, and one for myself. We read it together on a Sunday, in a single sitting, on the couch surrounded by candles. Everything about the experie
Oct 29, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking… Some day all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

That's the famous mission statement from Christopher Isherwood, who steadfastly refuses to fix it - to tell you what it's all about. It's intriguing. One finds oneself naked with a younger person. Why has the person become naked? What is the person's goal? This seems unusual. It's all a little bit oblique. It's intriguing but frustrating. Does anyon
Aug 25, 2016 AMEERA rated it really liked it
I loved this book just perfect and unique ❤' ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Dancer from the Dance
  • The Charioteer
  • The City and the Pillar
  • The Beautiful Room Is Empty
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
  • At Swim, Two Boys
  • The Swimming-Pool Library
  • The Carnivorous Lamb
  • The Front Runner (Harlan's Story, #1)
  • On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual
  • The Lost Language of Cranes
  • How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • Faggots
  • Maurice
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Like People in History
  • Mysterious Skin
  • Comfort and Joy
Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile
More about Christopher Isherwood...

Share This Book

“Think of two people, living together day after day, year after year, in this small space, standing elbow to elbow cooking at the same small stove, squeezing past each other on the narrow stairs, shaving in front of the same small bathroom mirror, constantly jogging, jostling, bumping against each other’s bodies by mistake or on purpose, sensually, aggressively, awkwardly, impatiently, in rage or in love – think what deep though invisible tracks they must leave, everywhere, behind them!” 209 likes
“But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder: one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labeled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until — later of sooner — perhaps — no, not perhaps — quite certainly: it will come.” 141 likes
More quotes…