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Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  8,372 ratings  ·  1,393 reviews
A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate.

Whom to marry, and when will it happen - these two questions define every woman's existence. So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bo
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Crown
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Debra Leigh Yes, and no. I expected that it would be a quick read, which it was. I expected that it would present some interesting thoughts on the state of being …moreYes, and no. I expected that it would be a quick read, which it was. I expected that it would present some interesting thoughts on the state of being single through history, which it did. But it really didn't exam the issue for all women -- only white women of means through modern history. So the choices and considerations Bolick discussed were narrowed by her focus on that particular sector of the population. (less)

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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  8,372 ratings  ·  1,393 reviews

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Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender-studies
I'm a guy, and I loved this book. Because I understand all about women choosing not to marry.


Seriously though, Kate Bolick has written an insightful reflection of women's power to shape their own lives in the twenty-first century and, along the way, highlighted the many assumptions we make about women. Ever wonder why we ask women when they'll marry but only ask men if? The whole thing is framed as personal experience compared to the lives of five historic women writers who, in the ma
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Actual rating = 2.5

I am disappointed that I didn't like this book, as a few co-workers have read it and really enjoyed it, and there's nothing worse than being that one guy who just doesn't get it. But I just don't get it. Perhaps I had too high expectations going in, thinking of the reviews I've read and the possibility of what a book about spinsterhood could address - but I found this work mostly painful to get through. The author makes Carrie Bradshaw seem modest and self-effacing, and the wh
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading the first half of this book, I felt like my soul was on fire. Here was another young woman, Kate, growing into herself through uncertainty and pain, becoming aware that she stays unhappily in relationships on the track to marriage because she needs to hit a female milestone, though it's not what she wants to do. She relishes having her own apartment, decries the (sexist) idea that winding up a bag or cat lady is the unhappiest fate possible, and admits that she's hesitant about having ch ...more
Apr 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
So bad. "I did this and then I did that. One August I went to the beach and did other things. Then I was in the City, but it wasn't Massachusetts. It was bad, but I was growing. Girls care about marriage, but guys don't. Being on your own is OK! I did some more stuff and maybe I'll do more in the future." For 300 interminable pages.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
What a disappointment. I had been eagerly anticipating the release of this book for extremely obvious reasons. Part of my disappointment is my own fault - what I expected is not at all what this book was. I was hoping for a book that would address cultural and societal expectations about women and marriage, what it's like to be a 30-something and 40-something single woman in different places, and social science research on spinsterhood as it relates to careers, families, retirement, etc. I am ge ...more
Deborah Markus
The short review: Occasionally interesting, but ultimately self-absorbed.

The details: I keep reading books that I think are going to be discussions of a subject when really they're about the author.

I read The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee because I thought it would be about Harper Lee. I was rewarded for my nosiness by learning everything I never wanted to know about Marja Mills, the author.

Similarly, I heard an interview with Kate Bolick on a book review podcast. She talked about
Book Riot Community
I jokingly picked this up the week of my younger sister’s wedding but pretty quickly fell in love with the author’s lyrical prose, unapologetic independence, and collection of literary role models. Marriage and relationships are still the default for women, even if they aren’t a financial necessity for all women anymore. I’m still a hardcore romance fan and a (hopefully not hopeless) believer in true love, but I enjoyed reading an intelligent and beautifully-written book that contemplated an und ...more
Spinster is part memoir and part exploration of what it has meant to be an unmarried woman in the US throughout the past 100 or so years. It's a topic that I think needs to be addressed, even in 2015, as many people are still shocked when they find out that some women don't care to get married (or procreate, but that requires another set of literature, I'm sure). Spinster also weaves in a little glimpse of the history of marriage without getting too in-depth about it. The author's spinster muses ...more
Britta Böhler
Interesting, engaging, well-written. And I learned a lot.

Re-read in March 2019. Still loving it.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
In the first 100 pages of Spinster, Kate Bolick writes, “I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found” and she couldn’t be more right. Oddly enough, for me, it was her book.

I was looking forward to reading Spinster long before I had a copy in my hands. I was fascinated by the story of a modern, intelligent woman explaining her decision to remain single, never marry, and live her life on her own, perhaps unconventional, terms. Also, the gorgeous cover helped too (LOVE tha
Julie Ehlers
What’s not to like about Spinster? Apparently quite a lot, if its Goodreads reviews are any indication. I think there’s a perception that this is supposed to be a sort of generalized book about single women as a group, and if you go into it expecting that, you’ll be disappointed (and should probably try Rebecca Traister’s excellent All the Single Ladies instead). No, Spinster is actually a very personal book, a memoir of Kate Bolick’s own experiences as a single woman and the literary role model ...more
Helene Jeppesen
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This was definitely an interesting read that revolves around the word spinster and how women have tried to break free from the norm through history. More specifically, Kate Bolick explores the role of the woman in today’s (and history’s) society, and she does that through 5 women who have inspired her through history to choose the path that she has chosen so far for herself: To stay independent and not marry, which is perfectly alright!
One thing that I struggled with a lot, though, while readin
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
The best advice my mother ever gave me was to wait until I was 30 to get married. My mom passed away when I was a teenager so I never really go to talk to her about this as an adult, but it’s something that always stuck with me. And when I recently got married – a month before I turned 31 – I looked back and realized that she was 100% totally right.

For a long time, I thought I was going to marry the guy that I dated from the age of 17 to the age of 25. He’s a perfectly lovely individual, but no
Feb 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shame on me for judging a book by its cover. I saw this in the bookstore, it has a "single" girl on the cover laughing. With that picture and the title, I thought this would be a fun book about my life, my life as a strong, confident, independent, successful woman.

I was wrong. I did read the entire book, even though I hated it, I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. She did not. This is about the author's life, and she is not single, never has been. She has been in serious relationshi
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I’m always interested in what motivates people—I know what moves me and find it fascinating to compare to other people’s experiences. That’s what drew me to Spinster. I remember having a few lonely times when I was in my 20s, and the epiphany at about age 28 when I realized that I would always be lonely unless I became a good companion to myself. I remember there was a passage in Kurt Vonnegut’s book Palm Sunday that I would read again and again as I processed this idea (
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received my copy of Spinster through YPG’s Little Big Mouth program. As someone who has studied feminist theory and is quite aware of the stigma unmarried women still face in 2015, I was curious to see what “bold” and “original” ideas Kate Bolick could add to this continuing issue… and was then quite disappointed. For the reader who hasn’t taken courses in feminist studies, or isn’t up to date on current feminist theory, then perhaps this book might offer a more thoughtful reading. I was ecsta ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm finding it hard to review SPINSTER: MAKING A LIFE OF ONE'S OWN. Kate Bolick is a gifted writer. She weaves together biography and sociology and history in a compelling blend. I certainly learned things about her five "awakeners" - Maeve Breenan, Neith Boyce, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilmore that I never knew.

Much of the book is devoted to biography of those five women, discussing how their writing and their unique, vivid lives inspired Bolick and helped h
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this from the publisher.

"Whom to marry, and when will it happen - these two questions define every woman's existence."

And with that bold statement, Bolick is off examining the life of women who choose non-marriage. She uses the lens of five significant female figures in her own education - Edna St. Vincent Millay, Maeve Brennan, Neith Boyce, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Bolick examines cultural assumptions, expectations of women, historical precedence for livi
Melissa Croom
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, I really did. As someone who is delightfully unattached in her 30s, the choice to remain unmarried and those who make it has always been something I enjoy talking about, thinking about, and reading about.

My biggest issue with this book is that I'm not 100% sure what point Bolick is trying to make. It felt like a book that started out as a memoir with a mission and fell short of actually accomplishing what it could have. She shares her stories and struggles of remaini
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own - Nevisande : Kate Bolick - ISBN : 385347138 - ISBN13 : 9780385347136 - Dar 308 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2015
Apr 22, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
You know a book is bad when so close to the end you simply cannot bring yourself to finish it. It becomes too tedious and you find yourself thinking 'why am I wasting my life reading something that just leaves you more annoyed than anything else?' Well. That was exactly what happened to me when it comes to "Spinster". I managed to get to page 250 and I simply couldn't go on. As much as I wanted to say I finished it, I feel like I'd read enough to give a full review of it despite not finishing it ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
SPINSTER is a beautifully written memoir that is part-history, part-confessional and part cultural essay. Bolick's writing occasionally stunned me with its elegance, and her tribute to her mother is incredibly powerful. Her choices are not mine, but her argument is that she should be free to make them - which I could not agree more with. Highly recommended.
Kara Babcock
I read most, if not all, of the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid (of course). I was very moved by Anne’s journey and transition to adulthood; even then, I was pretty sure I wanted to be a teacher, and so I was fascinated by her career path. While the details of the story have blurred with time, one memory continues to stick with me. In none book, Anne and a friend are discussing marriage, and they reach the determination that of the three marital states for a woman (maid/spinster, married, wi ...more
Elli (The Bibliophile)
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
I finished this book a couple of days ago and, overall, I found it an enjoyable reading experience. I liked Bolick's writing, and I really enjoyed learning about the women she discusses. I also was intrigued by her life story.

On a more critical note, I found that this book was a bit confused. The way it was structured seemed good at first, but by the end I couldn't figure out if this was a memoir, or a collection of biographies of women that influenced Bolick in some way. In a way it was a stra
This was just okay to me. It's half-biography, half-memoir, all looking outside of herself for answers to her questions. Which is fine, as you tend to do that when you're in your early twenties. I ended up skimming the last 1/3 of the book. I no longer cared. It was very repetitive. She did not ever seem to learn very much, and when she did it was very slow going. True to life, perhaps, but makes for a story you want to hurry up and have a point. While Bolick makes good points here and there, it ...more
I was expecting to be intrigued, educated, and challenged but I honestly really loved this book! Bolick's writing is compelling, interesting, and I was so engrossed I had a hard time putting the book down.

You can read my full review HERE.
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, english

From the outside this looks a bit like a cross between chicklit and self-help, but it isn't. And if it weren't for some goodreads reviews that crossed my path I would never have read this.

In this book Kate Bolick writes about her own life in and out of relationships as well as the lives of, what she calls, her five 'Awakeners'. These women all lived a considerable part of their lives being single in a society where marriage was the norm. Kate Bollick examines to what extent today's world rea
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book about the author's journey and the women that influenced her views of the single life. I have only been single for 10 years but I related to her story on many levels. More importantly, she has inspired me to read Edna St Vincent Millay and Edith Wharton. Women have come a long way but still are not validated in their desires to remain single and independent. I lived 2 years in Boise, ID and felt intense pressure there to couple, so different from Phoenix where I have lots of ...more
"You are born, you grow up, you become a wife. But what if it wasn't this way? what if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do, depending? What would that look and feel like?" Yeah, I agree. Certainly little girls play wedding and we all are supposed to be a princess for a day with a fabulous wedding. And every girl wants to "catch a man" and every man will eventually be "tied down".

Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
In her early twenties, Kate Bolick started writing in her journal about her “spinster wish,” which she describes as “shorthand for the extravagant pleasures of simply being alone.” Despite a string of serious monogamous relationships with wonderful men, she found herself happiest when alone, waking up to stretch across a blissfully empty bed and spending Saturday afternoons reading and napping. Now, two decades later, she remains single by choice, enjoying both the romance of dating and the libe ...more
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Kate Bolick is a contributing editor for The Atlantic, freelance writer for ELLE, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal (among other publications), and host of "Touchstones at The Mount," an annual literary interview series at Edith Wharton's country estate, in Lenox, MA. Previously, she was executive editor of Domino, and a columnist for The Boston Globe Ideas Section.

Bolick has appeare

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“You are born, you grow up, you become a wife. But what if it wasn’t this way? What if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do, depending? What would that look and feel like?” 36 likes
“Those of us who’ve bypassed the exits for marriage and children tend to motor through our thirties like unlicensed drivers, unauthorized grownups.” 26 likes
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