How To Be Single If Being Single Isn’t Bad?

How To Be SingleWhile my book-reading tastes are broad and varied, and my blog-writing efforts subsequently so, even I’m surprised by the book I both recently picked up and that I’m blogging about right now.

Entitled How To Be Single—I know, I know, please stay with me here—it didn’t make the splash its book half-brother He’s Just Not That Into You did when it hit the marketplace.

In fact, I didn’t even know this book existed and only stumbled across it and then succumbed to its guiles during a moment of my-soul-has-been-crushed-by-a-stinky-stinky-boy weakness while rifling through a bin at a garage sale.

I’m not the kind of girl who’s on the quest to find ‘the one’—I think there are careers to pursue and social and environmental issues to tackle and that matters of the heart, while important and valid, shouldn’t be one’s sole focus in life.

Nor am I convinced that there’s a happy ending waiting for everybody, and think that if you’ve staked your efforts and your sanity on trying to find someone to look after you and make you happy, well, you’re playing with it’s-going-to-end-badly fire.

How To Be SingleWhich goes at least part way to explaining why I picked up and purchased this novel by Liz Tuccillo, one half of the He’s Just Not That Into You book, which swept the single women’s world like wildfire and spawned a flippant, simplistic phrase that makes single women the world over want to slap somebody.

I’m not jaded, honest. I’m actually more interested that someone finally approached the issue from another angle: that of being and staying single and whether that’s such a bad thing. I mean, I can’t help but wonder if there is and should be more to life than getting coupled up.

How To Be Single’s premise (and the opening paras) is as follows:

It’s the most annoying question and they just can’t help asking you. You’ll be asked it at family gatherings, particularly weddings. Men will ask you it on first dates. Therapists will ask you over and over again. And you’ll ask yourself it far too often. It’s the question that has no good answer, and that never makes anyone feel better. It’s the question, that when people stop asking it, makes you feel even worse.

And yet, I can’t help but ask. Why are you single? You look like an awfully nice person. And very attractive. I just don’t understand it.

But times are changing. In almost every country around the world, the trend is for people to remain single longer and divorce more easily. As more and more women become economically independent, their need for person freedom increase, and that often results in not marrying so quickly.

A human being’s desire to make, to pair up, to be part of a couple, will never change. But the way we go about it, how badly we need it, what we are willing to sacrifice for it, most definitely is.

He's Just Not That Into YouSo maybe the question isn’t anymore, ‘Why are you single?’ Maybe the question you should be asking yourself is ‘How are you single?’ It’s a big new world out there and the rules keep changing. So, tell me ladies, how’s it going?

Although I was incredibly embarrassed to be seen reading this book in public, and was worried that I would either run into someone I knew, or would drop the book I’d been surreptitiously reading on the train with the cover in full view, I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, a lot more than I thought I would.

I’d even go so far as to say that I think Tuccillo, who was an executive story editor of the Emmy Award-winning and cult classic Sex and the City, is a good storyteller (and better when the voice is just her own—geddit, a single writer?).

How To Be Single is fiction, but it appears to be based on non-fiction interviews, and I’d hazard a guess it’s based loosely on Tuccillo‘s own experiences and those of her friends.  She travelled around the world interviewing single ladies (and yes, writing that made Beyonce just leap into my head), and I can’t help but notice that the book was a little bit Sex and the City and a little bit Eat Pray Vom, I mean, Love.

Eat Pray LoveThere were five characters instead of four, but they all neatly filled a different niche of woman without straying too strongly into Carrie/Samantha/Miranda/Charlotte territory. In fact, they didn’t know each other overly well and there wasn’t a Samantha among them.

The locations of said interviews included Bali, Australia, Iceland, Brazil, France, Italy, and India, and I was a little bit suspicious that we were going to get an Eat Pray Vom meeting and marrying of the perfect man in Bali, but the book thankfully steered clear and didn’t offer a perfectly neat, happily-ever-after dénouement. Besides, I think some of the best insights came not at the summing-up stage, but in short revelations throughout the text.

This will probably be one of the only love-life-focused books I’ll read or review here, but I can’t say it was a bad one to have done. I think the catch phrase should be not ‘He’s just not that into you’, but ‘Is it so bad to be single?’ or ‘How to be single if being single isn’t bad?’

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.