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Sex and The Single Girl

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  779 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Provides single women with advice on such topics as dealing with men, sex, career success, becoming sexy, making money, and staying healthy.
Paperback, 267 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Barricade Books (first published 1962)
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3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  779 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this eons ago, when I was in my late teens or early 20s, and I remember being impressed, gaining a lot of good advice from it. So when HGB died last week, I knew it deserved a re-read, and happily, it did not disappoint. It's especially fun to note how much Mad Men took from this book, particularly Peggy's career path and Joan's style.

The title is misleading: only the first 60 pages or so are about sex; basically, It's Good to Enjoy Men, How to Sleep with Married Advertising Executives,
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: recipients of the Helen Fellowship
Shelves: nonfiction, nyc
This woman's legacy is funding my career for the next few years, so I thought I should read her book. The cover is appallingly pink.

Written in 1962, this is a how-to guide for single women. How to eat, dress, decorate your home, and mostly how to find a man. Which is my main issue with the book - for a book that is celebrating the single life, what's the hurry in exiting it?

For its time, this book was probably a feminist marvel and very revolutionary. It's painful now... so I'm glad we have come
Sannie Hald
Mar 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a load of rubbish... Is she serious or is it all a joke?
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon Sex and the Single Girl when I was doing some research on Luna Dunham , an actress/ director/producer who is an inspiration to upcoming Millennial filmmakers. Lena Dunham apparently wrote a book about her rise to fame which critics say is similar to Helen Gurley Brown's tells all book. That got me curious. I was like who is Helen Gurley Brown and why haven't I ever heard of her: Well, I found out that she is a remarkable woman who was the editor in chief of Cosmopolitian magazine ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a lot of respect for Helen Gurley Brown. She changed things for women when they really needed changing. I have been curious to read this book for awhile.

The book was published in 1962, and it really shows. Ms. Brown stated in the introduction to the edition I read that she had not updated any of the advice, as she felt it could still be useful nowadays. Overall this could be true, bar the unfortunate discourse on homosexuality that definitely reflects the opinions of the time.

I was rather
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was just down-right fun. It's shockingly advanced for the time and awfully dated at the same time, but it's the contrast that makes it so interesting. Helen Gurley Brown is the ultimate in kooky, fascinating old broads. Her opinions on homosexuals will make you squirm and her constant use of "girls" to address middle-aged woman will make you blush, but she would have been the life of any party and the woman anyone would just have to look up to.

This is a historic artifact worth a read.
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read the original version, not the revised, post-Sex and the City version. It was a very interesting read from a feminist/historical point of view. Helen Gurley Brown and her book are hard to pigeonhole. On one hand, there is no denying that her book is about teaching "girls" (rarely does she use the word "women") about how to make themselves attractive to, and how to obtain, men (note--they're adults, not "boys"). She devotes many pages to teaching girls how to dress, groom, and even decorate ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Following the death of HGB, I made an effort to seek out Sex and the Single Girl to get a fuller sense of the contribution she had made to women and feminism. This book is full of feminist highs and lows, and it is actually quite difficult to pin HGB down within this. On the one hand, she is still very man- and marriage-centric, despite claims to the contrary; on the other hand, she advocates for women to embrace independence and full and happy sex lives. So this is as much a product of its time ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
This professed "cult classic," Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown, was originally released in the 1962. Although if you read the 2003 introduction, you quickly discover that Ms. Gurley Brown feels nothing has changed. Which makes you giggle and you find kinda fun until you actually read the book.

I am not quite sure how much has changed from 2003 to today, July 9, 2011, but I am going to venture to say, "Not that much." Not enough to justify some of these amazing little tidbits.

On marr
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lifestyle
Considering that this book was published in the 60's, the core concept, that a single woman could live alone and have a wonderfully fulfilling life without intending to get married, was revolutionary (I would argue it still is, to some degree).

This book is more of a "how to live fabulously" book than a "how to land a man"–i.e. 'Don't worry about it, enjoy yourself!' is often her man-trap advice. It's good advice!

My favorite chapters where the ones on Money and the Apartment. The Apartment one r
Jackie Morrison
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it

Before Candance Bushnell there was Cosmopolitan's legendary HGB.

Helen Gurley Brown was the original single girl in New York. She was well positioned too. The sexual evolution was her calling card and this book was the first modern guide to living life. HGB was to women what Hugh Hefner in the 1960s was to men. This book, groundbreaking as it was, paved the way for Candace Bushnell and her Sex and the City fame. Sex and the Single Girl is about being a modern woman seeking adventure and passion
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Picked it up as it is one of the most revolutionary books of its time. Thought it would provide wonderful excerpts for my class on the 1960's. The title is misleading. I found it funny that this book was revolutionary for its time, but spent very little time actually talking about single woman having sex, techniques of enjoying it, etc. Instead the author still seemed censored in how she discussed the issue.
Instead the book was more of a single girl's guide to life-how to dress, wear make up, ea
Liss Capello
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
What a funny book. I like how the whole point is that you don't have to get married in order to have a cool, worthwhile life! Except let's spend a lot of time talking about how to acquire a man, and whether or not he might marry you. I get that the Question of Marriage is a question, especially in 1964, but dang. The point of view is also shamelessly manipulative, cheerfully advocating use of feminine wiles to lure men for your personal and financial benefit, regardless of their marital status o ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this after hearing it mentioned several times on Mad Men. I was interested to learn what it was exactly that Helen Gurley Brown laid out that became such an inspiration to women of the 60s. Suprisingly, I found much of it to be inspirational now, nearly 50 years later. The book gets off to a great, up beat and at times hilarious start that carries on most of the way through. Either the writing dulls out, or my interest waned, but toward the end I had some trouble staying intere ...more
Nov 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book was just terrible. When I got to "Chapter 4: How to be Sexy" I finally threw in the towel. I had high hopes for it as the author was one of the first female copywriters in the industry, but that doesn't help disguise how truly outdated her writing is--the original printing of "Sex and The Single Girl" was in 1962. I suppose I thought it was going to be kitschy, but it just left me feeling sad. Alas, from what little I ended up reading I'm reminded of how far working women have come and ...more
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: most of my lady friends
A friend of mine recommended this book, and at the time it seemed picked it up. It offers up some very outdated advice, but more importantly it's hilarious, all the while keeping the tone that you don't have to settle down and have a relationship to be "successful" and "happy" like some women seem to believe. It's empowering, tear jerking...make you want to call your best friends and sisters and mom.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For me, reading Sex and the Single Girl is like curling up next to a warm, crackling fire in the dead of winter. Helen Gurley Brown is the cool aunt, knowing big sister, and hip mom you never had. This book turned conventional thinking about gender roles on its head in the 1960s, true, but even now, whether you're married or single, 16 or 60, you'll come away with the feeling that life is supposed to be fun. We need more books like that in this world.
Elizabeth Wiley
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the topic from its place in women's history. Ms. Brown's advice-giving style is charmingly candid and racy for its time, and some advice is still worthy of following. Ms. Dawn Harvey as narrator perfectly captures the author's wordly tone, making the book great fun to listen to!
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book in terms of all the stuff single twentysomethings had to worry about fifty years ago, but so many references in this edition were too dated for the book to be useful to anyone now. And the title is misleading-given that this edition came out in 1962, there's no real amount about sex in it all- likely would've been labeled obscene and maybe even banned in some places if it did.
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any female
I have actually told a couple of friends already that I am lending them this book and that they HAVE to read it. It really puts things into perspective - your single years are the best of your life! Lots of advice on how to live them to the fullest, and don't bother rushing into a lifetime happens when it happens. It has gotten rid of a lot of my anxiety about everything.
Alessandra Gad
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
I like reading dated advice books like this for fun sometimes, and I wanted this to be more entertaining than it was. I did like that I could definitely see the influence on a show like Mad Men, though.
Alice Urchin
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Totally fun to read if you don't take it seriously.
Jul 30, 2013 added it
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
One-third creepy and outdated sexist nonsense, one-third tongue-in-cheek humor, and one-third good advice (even if you subtracted the man-catching aspects). I loved it.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be a joke! Either she is stupid or the woman and men who believe in this are completely stupid!
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Still relevant 40 years later
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Part historical curiosity, part single girl therapy. Helen Gurley Brown is hilarious, and I have to admit that her advice on how to live your best, unmarried life was really comforting.
I loved this book! I just loved it. I didn't have my first romantic rendezvous until I was 25 and even though he is now my husband (!), I spent my high school and university years comparing myself to my peers and feeling left out. Feeling as though I was missing out on all of the relationship milestones. I wish I had read this book when I was a teenager. I think I would have fared better with Notorious H.G.B. by my side.

Even though it was written in 1962, much of its content is applicable today
Bookish Jen
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Not so long ago, if a gal wasn’t married by the time she was in her early twenties she considered a pitiful, washed-up spinster. Helen Gurley Brown thought this was a load of hogwash, and told young women to embrace single hood and have the time of their lives. And she wrote all about it in her ground-breaking, and back in the early sixties, quite scandalous book Sex and the Single Girl.

There is a chance you aren’t familiar with Helen Gurley Brown. However, you are probably aware of the magazine
Nicholas During
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Not what one would call a feminist book in this day and age, but clearly had something to say at the time that raised some eyebrows (probably shaved and then drawn on if your taking HGB's advice). The real interest in this book would be take it in conjunction with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique: both published around the same time (Sex & The Single Girl came out a year earlier and it's hard not to think The Feminine Mystique was written in response to it) and both the authors came fro ...more
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Helen Gurley Brown, is an author, publisher, and businesswoman. She was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.

Brown's father died in an elevator accident when she was young, and her sister was a polio victim. She was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas.

From 1939 to 1941 she attended Texas State College for Women and Woodbury Business College.

After a stint in the mailroom at the William
“If you can forget the stultifying concept that there are appropriate years for certain endeavors (like getting married) and appropriate days for being gay and merry (like Saturday nights) and use these times without embarrassment or self-pity to do something creative and constructive, I believe half your single girl battle is over.” 1 likes
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