Happy Sin­gle­hood

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Diverse Voices / Nonfiction - SU­SAN WAG­GONER

The Ris­ing Ac­cep­tance and Cel­e­bra­tion of Solo Liv­ing Elyakim Kislev Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Press (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $29.95 (280pp), 978-0-520-29914-6 SO­CIAL SCIENCE

Peo­ple live as sin­gles in mount­ing num­bers, even in tra­di­tion-ori­ented coun­tries. In Happy Sin­gle­hood, Elyakim Kislev brings a re­searcher’s eye to bear on this world-shift­ing trend.

The book ar­gues that hap­pi­ness is not de­pen­dent on one’s mar­i­tal sta­tus but on mak­ing the right choice for the right rea­sons. Af­ter list­ing nu­mer­ous fac­tors that gave rise to the sin­gles boom, the book flows eas­ily into an ex­plo­ration of both the pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive fea­tures of sin­gle­dom.

The cited sources cover a broad range and are am­pli­fied by find­ings from 142 orig­i­nal in­ter­views. The re­sult is a broad and il­lu­mi­nat­ing panorama, with enough ref­er­ences to con­tem­po­rary cul­ture to bring un­der­ly­ing themes alive.

The book tack­les both prac­ti­cal and emo­tional is­sues. On the neg­a­tive side, scaled-forone houses and mort­gages are hard to find, and while sin­gles in their twen­ties are viewed as en­vi­able, sin­gles in their for­ties are of­ten seen as self-cen­tered or so­cially mal­adroit. Still, fewer peo­ple mar­ry­ing for the wrong rea­sons means fewer di­vorces, a ben­e­fit to the en­tire cul­ture.

A con­clud­ing chap­ter sug­gests ways that govern­ments, plan­ners, and em­ploy­ers can bet­ter meet the needs of sin­gles. Tax codes that re­ward fam­i­lies at the ex­pense of sin­gles, the lack of sin­gle-friendly hous­ing in ex-ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties, and the ex­pec­ta­tion that sin­gle em­ploy­ees will pick up the slack when those with fam­ily com­mit­ments drop the ball: all are long-ig­nored is­sues called for re­ex­am­i­na­tion.

Happy Sin­gle­hood thought­fully ex­plores the un­ac­knowl­edged in­crease in sin­gle liv­ing. Its se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion could re­sult in greater free­dom of choice, hap­pier in­di­vid­u­als, and more ef­fi­cient economies.

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