I love this book: Live Alone and Like It

Thanks to Anonymous Writer for posting about Live Alone and Like It back in September. I’d not have heard of it otherwise.

I’ve only just started reading it and already love it. The book was published in 1936 so it’s old-fashioned in some ways (like about S-E-X), but it’s also surprisingly timely.

I especially like the case examples, like pathetic Miss Whomever who sits around waiting for a husband, unlike her single counterparts who relish their independence, traveling and changing the world.

If I were a case study, how would I read?

Miss W. is a divorced 34-year old who lives in a charming one-bedroom in a lovely section of Manhattan. Having spent much of her young adulthood dedicating herself to one man and his family, she is suddenly on her own again.

But unlike herself at 20, she can now afford the finer things in life. Exquisite meals, theatre tickets, and trips to exotic locales around the world.

Without familial obligations, she now has time to pursue her dreams and to better herself in ways she has always wanted. While she makes do as a marketer for a large corporation, her true career is that of a writer.

As a married woman, time spent writing was seen as time not spent with family, and now, living alone, she can make her own schedule, writing as much or as little (preferably the former) as she wants.

She has also always enjoyed running, and a lifelong goal has been to run a marathon. In between her day job and bouts of writing, she trains and racks up the number of required races to be able to run next year.

She admits that at times she is a solitary being, and has chosen as her favorite activities, two very solitary pursuits. So she must remind herself to engage in more social events as well.

These can be connected to her interests, such as the NY Road Runners Club, writing classes, and volunteering for such literary institutions as the Asian American Writers’ Workshop or the Small Press Center.

Of course Miss W. is lonely at times, but she tries not to dwell too long on this. Dwelling for too long does nothing to alleviate these feelings. Nor does she enter social situations with expectations of meeting that special someone. If she did, no matter how fun-filled the event, she’d be disappointed if these expectations were not met.

At times she wishes her circle of confidantes were closer, but having friends and family all over the country gives her the excuse to travel. Boston, Washington DC, and Los Angeles are all places she visits regularly.

She can’t forget the dear friends who *are* near her. Not only are they all wonderful conversationalists, their activities are hers. She loves “tagging along” on their performances, literary activities, and children’s adventures (even better: she’s free to take leave when the adventures morph into mis-adventures).

She tries to ascribe to the philosophy of why focus on the negative when there’s so much positive to enjoy?

Of course this would be my case study at my best. And so all I can do is strive to do and be my best. :)

Some bon mots from the book:

Never, never, never let yourself feel that anybody ought to do anything for you. Once you become a duty you also become a nuisance. Be surprised and pleased, if you like, at gifts, invitations, and other attentions. Or, better still, take them casually. But don’t let anyone suspect if you miss them.

Remember that nothing is so damaging to a self-esteem as waiting for a telephone or door-bell that doesn’t ring.

The first rule is to have several passionate interests. . . .You should have at least one that keeps you busy at home and another that takes you out. Just dabbling in them isn’t enough, either. They will not be really efficacious until you’re the kind of enthusiast who will stay home to follow the first type in spite of a grand invitation, or go out and follow the second in spite of wind, sleet, or rain.

* * *

My weekend at my parents’ was pretty uneventful. But I got to do laundry and have a run on Saturday in what is basically farmland. Yesterday I ran in the city.

I think I’m coming down with something. During my jog on Sunday, my legs felt achy and not in a I-just-had-a-good-workout kind of way. I was so tired that night I went to bed at 9, then kept waking up feeling hot. Also had a headache. This morning my throat hurt and I’ve felt yucky all day. Not congested though.

I hate getting sick. The last full-fledged cold I had was in February 2005. In November I had a little sumpin but it never developed. Hopefully I can fight this one off.

So I postponed my class. It was to start tomorrow and I decided to take the one in February instead. I just don’t feel like dealing with running into the Boy between our classes, or worrying about running into him. It would be different if we were friends.

I opted for the “master” level, which is a better fit for me. Watch: he’ll decide to do a repeat and show up in my class. But by February I’ll probably be more ready to handle it. Hopefully.

Besides, I’m a little tired of my essays. After reading Stephen King’s On Writing, I feel inspired about trying fiction again. November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Yay! Though I’m not sure what my novel will be about. I’ll have to tap into my “ideas” spreadsheet.


  1. I’m glad you liked the book — I heard about it a long time ago but I had to hunt around for it and then pre-order it.

    You might also want to try “Kiss My Tiara” by Susan Jane Gilman. I don’t really like calling it a “self help book”, but I actually found myself underlining a lot of things to re-read and it sits on my shelf next to “Live Alone and Like It.”

  2. Good luck picking your idea from your idea book and writing your novel. I just finished my first attempt at a novel (a children’s novel) and was amazed both at how hard and how easy it was.

    I love your writing and I can’t wait to read some fiction from you someday!