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

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,485 ratings  ·  379 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 eve ...more
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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May 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Cari by: Elaine
So it's like this: I'm a member of one of the demographic groups Klinenberg focused on while writing Going Solo. I'm a professional, middle class woman in my late twenties with my own apartment, a circle of close friends who are basically family, and the ability to enjoy my own company. I value my privacy and my space and have a strong antipathy towards roommates, so since I can afford to do so without too much stress, I choose to live alone. In summary, I'm the bloody target audience for this b ...more
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to this book enough to buy it, but came away disappointed. To begin with, I did not find it "revelatory," beyond a few statistics early in the text about how prevalent living alone has become in American society, however little it may be reflected in the popular culture. I expected a serious discussion of the policy implications of that fact, but huge swaths of this read like a self-help book, based on interviews usually introduced with text like "Kimberly lives in New York ...more
Andrea McDowell
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
When Klininberg investigated a wave of heat-related deaths in Chicago, he discovered the majority of them had some sad facts in common: most were men, living alone, without social networks or families to check in on them. One might expect, then, that his book on the exponential increase in single-person households would be dark and depressing. Not a bit of it: while he doesn't shy away from the trend's darker potentials, like the above-mentioned isolated elderly men with no one to comfort them i ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
wow! most misleading subtitle ever. i have lived alone before & it had quite a lot of appeal for me. it was awesome. but had i read this book before i took the plunge, it may never have happened, because this book portrays most people who live alone as very sad & probably on the verge of a horrible lonesome death culminating in their corpse being eaten by their cat. i really don't think it was the author's intention at all, but...sometimes shit happens, i guess.

this book also did something that
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I live alone. There, I said it. I'm not used to saying it that way because... Actually I don't know why. Maybe I'm afraid of the stigma attached to the word "alone." It sounds so forlorn (pitifully sad and abandoned, or lonely, if you google it), and I'm not. I'm not sad or lonely, nor have I been abandoned. I love my life.

Maybe it's in my genes? My mother and father divorced in 1967, and except for a few months right after the divorce (long story) my mom lived alone until she got Alzheimer's i
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Going Solo
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 refer
Gretchen Rubin
This book analyzes the growing trend of people living alone. Fascinating. I learned a lot from this book about how our living situations are changing, and what we seek from our living situations.
Michelle Llewellyn
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Two stars for the outright lie-there is no surprising appeal of living alone. I read this hoping to find some validation in my situation of being unmarried, single and alone-not by choice but because I HAD NO CHOICE! Unless I want to lose my virginity in a cohabitating relationtionship, I'm doomed to live the celebite life alone and I guess I'm just the first to admit there are some days I do not find it appealing. It's a weak argument that having a spouse and children is important but, as Kline ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, overseas
This is my 500th review. Good grief.

Despite the subtitle, ‘Going Solo’ is a very non-sensationalist book. I wouldn't say that it's 'trailblazing' or 'revelatory' either. It isn’t trying to evangelise for living alone, but neither does it condone scaremongering about singletons destroying society. Rather, it uses evidence from interviews of some three hundred Americans of all ages who live alone to comment on the individual and societal effects of the phenomenon. The explanation provided for the
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought this was very interesting. Between marriages I lived alone for a decade, basically. Occasionally I stayed at my parents' home for extended visits or crashed with friends and he year I was saying my husband I lived with a friend. I am very happy to have had that time, both when I was both single and living solo and when I was only one or the other. I did learn a lot about myself and probably shouldn't have gotten married the first time without having done it.

Since my husband is ten yea
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evan by: Tamara
Shelves: book-club
This book presented a ton of interesting facts on the phenomenon of living alone in a city, however none of them were outright shocking, or too far afield of what I would have guessed. That could be because I've lived alone for more than 5 years now, and 7 total in my lifetime.

The one aspect of living alone that I don't think about often--but one that this book brought to the forefront of my mind--is what I will do if I am still living alone in my elderly years. How will I go about meeting my s
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
A somewhat dull anecdotally laden substance free telling of a hugely important trend happening right before our eyes and obviously even more relevant today then when this book was first published in 2012.

I’d be hard pressed to highlight anything of substance that was in this book that I didn’t already know except for when he mentioned five or so times that 46% of Swedes live alone. I did not know that. Shared social experiences of various individuals do not make for a compelling book. The movie
Mars R
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was pretty disappointed by this book. A title using words like "extraordinary" and "appeal" would have a lot more positives in it than Going Solo. Instead of showing the resilience of rising above and the solutions to the expected problems that come with aging, this book wallows in the negative. Dying alone, the burial process for people whose bodies aren't claimed by relatives, the dangers of disease... all these things are given a great deal of page-time. There was also a lot about the strug ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
In Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, sociologist Eric Klinenberg studies why people so often choose to live alone.

Since I first read this work in 2015, I've learned about the difficulties associated with loneliness and isolation. Loneliness can become chronic loneliness, at which point people start to feel isolation as a pain and they avoid others to avoid the pain, ultimately creating a downward spiral. Maybe we shouldn't live alone, I thought.

But if you
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a very balanced book on the virtues and pitfalls of living alone. There have been many books written advocating both sides of the idea, but this author neither promotes nor disparages living on your own. He states that it is something that is happening with more and more frequency all on it's on, and explores reasons why.

Both affluence and poverty are driving forces in the trend, and the author interviewed many, many people of differing geographical and socio-economic levels to explore
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book offers an overview of the changing culture where for the first time people are living alone in huge numbers. Unfortunately, many societies, especially in the USA, haven't been very enthusiastic about adjusting to this new way of life, preferring to rail about selfishness than really meet the challenges of a large population of elderly people on their own.

Although the book has a lot of respect for people living alone and stresses how people choose to live alone because it's the best of t
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Dark and discouraging. It seems the elderly singles are doomed to a sad end. Now i'll have to think up a new plan for my post retirement years as a single lady. ...more
Alison Whiteman
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Klineberg's book does not lose speed. I wanted a chapter about people with disabilities who live alone. I think we are the most vulnerable group in American culture and living with a husband can be dangerous. The author did address the heavy domestic workload women experience if they are married. Combine this with a disease like multiple sclerosis, which I do have, and the disaster is inevitable.

This was my experience personally. I could not keep up with his demands that I ski, clean, cook, etc
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Despite my initial topical interest, Klinenberg's strongest points led to my boredom with this book.

In Going Solo, he attempts to do justice to each group of "singletons," which he explains are a such a large group of Americans that there's no one way to describe all 33 million of them in a broad stroke. Because of this, he conducts interviews, site visits, and other conversationally presented research with a wide range of Americans who live alone.

I found myself interested in the subgroups tha
Marta Veenhof
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a pretty good read. At first it started off a little boring, but then the author got into stories and more scientific backup and research. He covers the benefits and cons of living alone and how one gets to the point of living alone. He deconstructs that living alone isn't necessarily a bad thing, that just because one ends up alone does not mean they have failed.

Below are some of my favourite quotes from the book that summarize the important points, as I saw them.

"Solitude, once we lea
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I was happy to see that this book is not trying to endorse or disapprove any specific lifestyle. We’ve all experienced instances of what can be called the battle of lifestyles. There are married people who can barely hide their pity for what they perceive to be the selfish, empty, and ultimately lonely lives of their single friends. And there are singles who make a show of what a fun and adventurous life they’re leading and why would they want to give all that up for the boredom of domesticity. ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
If you live in a city, you've certainly seen the literal rise of condo towers and townhome developments, filled mainly with one-room units. Eric Klinenberg, in Going Solo (which just moved into paperback), examines the unprecedented increase in the number of people living alone. His research and interviews describe young unmarried professionals not seeking relationships; middle-aged men and women after the end of marriages; and elderly people trying to maintain their dignity by living alone. He ...more
Nov 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
ugh this book is annoying. written in that very special and arrogant/biased way that only pop psychology/sociology can be. maybe it gets better, but I'm not finishing it. he did specify right at the end that he was mostly going to be talking about the middle class because living alone was something for the economically privileged, but I don't need him to tell me that.

plus was already approached on one train ride by a gentlemen, who at seeing the cover asked if I had just broken up with someone.
John Pappas
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-sciences
A five for originality of concept. A four for accessibility of language. The book never lagged or slowed down. Point were made, voices heard and then Eric moved on to the next concept. Another five for the wonderful conclusion. Often the last quarter of the book is completely skippable but Eric kept the momentum going and worked well to expand on the concept of living alone while approaching it with respect and free of social stigma. Bravo!
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
My first social science book that I've ever read...for fun! It was extremely well-written, and so spot on that I found myself saying, "I know right?!" on more than one occasion. I think I need a copy of this book to remind myself that being a singleton is friggin' awesome! ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
Klinenberg's refutation of Robert Putman. ...more
Going Solo is a really informative book on the challenges of living alone in cities at various stages of life. I really liked that there was so much research cited, statements were strongly corroborated by empirical data, and the inclusion of interviews to put human 'faces' on the research and data.

However, I didn't see a lot of the 'surprising appeal' that the title promised me hashed out in the text itself. Apparently this is because singles advocates (such as Bella DePaulo, who is referenced
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-singleness
I’m really glad this book exists. It’s not very uplifting, but it seems very important. About half of the book is about what it’s like to die alone/get ready to die alone. But overall, this is a very useful book. It’s written by a sociologist and is largely reflecting lots of structured interviews. I really enjoyed the glimpses into individual lives/situations. If any thing, it might have been nice to have a few tables and charts. And I also thought the conclusion chapter wasn’t very well writte ...more
Ali C
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not the type of book I typically enjoy, but i found that Klineberg made a compelling case for the acknowledgement of a growing segment of singles living alone and the unique challenges and benefits that presents.
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
It is not bad, some of the stories are actually impressively good and interesting but in general it was pretty hard to read.
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Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology; Public Policy; and Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University. He is the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chica ...more

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