Wednesday, October 10, 2012

11 PM Book Review: Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, by Eric Klinenberg

Going Solo is an exploration of demographic change in the western world. "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 every seven adults—live alone."

Klinenberg interviews people who live alone because of inclination, divorce, the loss of a spouse, poverty, and old age. Taken together, their insights are powerful and an interesting reminder that although the culture at large considers the end game of life some version of the nuclear family, many people, through personality and circumstance, will live alone for chunks of their life, and almost everybody spends some time living alone.

In addition, he points out that many people find living alone a respite from a busy, 24/7 connected world. Klinenberg's conclusions are about how to mitigate the few ill effects of living alone, isolation and reclusiveness, especially in the poor and the elderly. He looks primarily at Sweden, which has retooled a great deal of its infrastructure to support people who live alone, from young adulthood to old age. Going Solo is an appealing look at and good overview of a topic that people will focus on more and more as this demographic shift deepens.

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