Singled Out by Bella DePaulo. In depth research about the myths surrounding singlehood written in an easily accessible way. DePaulo’s second chapter should be a must read for anybody who is skeptical about scientific interpretations in the social sciences. It is a very good analysis of the influence of assumptions on the interpretation of data. [If you haven’t figured out by now that I like this book, you haven’t read enough on this Website ;-)]
The Challenge of Being Single by Marie Edwards and Eleanor Hoover. This little gem from the early 1970s addresses many of the same issues as Bella DePaulo does. Reading it, I osilate between being excited about how valuable the book is and being sad about the reminders of the little progress we’ve made. I am reviewing the book as I read it.
The New Single Woman by Kay Trimberger. The book tackles one of the largest social phenomena of our times: the increasing number of single women over 35. Drawing on the diverse personal stories of long-term single women, including herself, Trimberger explodes the idea that fulfillment comes only through finding a soul mate. [I highly recommend this book, too. The stories are very inspiring and the conclusions that Trimberger draws are very useful.]
Beyond (Gay and Straight) Marriage by Nancy Polikoff. Polikoff criticizes the conservative “marriage movement” for blaming all social problems on the decline of life-long heterosexual marriage. She also takes issue with the gay rights “marriage-equality movement” for attributing the legal problems facing same-sex couples to the inability to marry, rather than to the “special rights” inappropriately granted married couples. When marriage serves as the bright dividing line between those relationships that legally matter and those that do not, Polikoff notes, countless families suffer. [This is a terrific book that approaches marriage from a legal perspective. In addition to making the case for moving beyond marriage, Polikoff gives an interesting history of the gay rights movement.]
With or Without A Man by Karen Gail Lewis. This book is different from other self-help books in its explanation for why there are so many single women today: More women than men are pursuing their personal growth, so more women than men are ready for a healthy relationship. And, women only want to be with emotionally healthy men. [Very valuable reading on how to choose being single and make it work.]
Women on Their Own: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Being Single edited by Rudolph M. Bell and Virginia Yans has just been published by Rutgers University Press. The volume consists of eleven essays concerning 19th and 20th century single women in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. Historians and social scientists are the contributors. An editor’s Introduction places the essays within the current context of “singleness studies” during this, its foundational period. The essays include discussions of theories about singleness, widowhood, single motherhood, disability, work, ideology, and the psychology of single women. The book arose from a conference and yearlong interdisciplinary seminar in 2003-2004 sponsored by the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis.
Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics by Sasha Cagen. Quirkyalone is a bible for all who reject archaic notions of romantic relationships. The book is loaded with individual voices of people who are constructing new approaches to life and love. Don’t expect to find linear narrative or cliched self-help lingo. A quirkyalone is a person who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than dating for the sake of being in a couple. With unique traits and an optimistic spirit; a sensibility that transcends relationship status. [This is a quick, fun read. It was the first book that made me realize that being single can be a choice, not “just” an accident…]
So Why Have You Never Been Married?, by Carl Weisman. There are many familiar misconceptions about unmarried men over 40: that middle-aged bachelors disdain the institution of marriage, take obsessive pride in their single status, and balk at the thought of having children or being tied down. This book compiles interview responses from over 1,500 unmarried, middle-aged men, dispelling these myths and re-examining popular notions about long-term bachelors. Weisman also includes in-depth interviews with single men to shed light on their reasons for choosing singlehood. [See Bella DePaulo’s take on this book before you buy it, though…]