How To Be Alone – II

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I had promised Cheerful Monk that I would review the book once I had finished reading it and here it is.  I hope that Anjali agrees with my conclusion.

I am disappointed.

Sara Maitland has taken the theme that she loves being alone and would like other people to enjoy being alone too; but present societies consider this preference as countercultural. This may well be true of Western societies but I do come from India where it is anything but countercultural. That India, particularly urban India has increasingly become Westernised considered, the vast majority of Indians would not consider going off to live alone or on retreats as being odd.

Having said that, there are as many pressures here for single people to get married as there are in the West and as many snide comments about singles made to them or behind their backs as there apparently are in the West.

Ms. Maitland has collected many quotes from many authors and her suggested reading list for those looking to be alone include Henry Thoreau, Philip Koch, Isabel Colegate and Peter France. Frankly, I have no intention to read any further on the subject as nothing new has come up in her work and I doubt that I will learn anything new from the others though I must say that I have always found Thoreau’s Walden a fascinating read.

Unless you are now not alone and are being forced into or voluntarily planning to go it alone for the rest of your life and are looking for a DIY book, you can safely give this book a bye.

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22 Responses to How To Be Alone – II

  1. Gabbygeezer says:

    I enjoy retreating occasionally into my private space, but believe part of the good feeling is knowing I will return soon to a life featuring interactions with other humans. The concept of being totally alone for the rest of one’s days holds no appeal for me.
    Gabbygeezer recently posted..We’re Being Bowled Over

    • Yes, knowing that you can have the best of both worlds makes a world of difference to people who have to live alone and the author does make a point about this.

  2. Thanks!
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Hurrah for Doing Nothing!

  3. tammy j says:

    even being alone…
    I think everyone needs at least someone in their life …
    to call and share a meal with… and good rollicking discussions!
    so that when you get back home and in your little room…
    you feel warmed and happy… both from company and yet again in your own solitude.
    I don’t know if that can be learned from a book.
    it’s just the way it is.
    making up your mind to be happy and love the life you have really.
    unless a person is the type that is ‘clinically depressed’ or something…
    which is entirely to do with the brain… and can be helped with medication.
    my first reaction to your review I have to admit sean…
    was delight.
    I said to myself… “don’t beat around the bush rummy! tell us how you REALLY feel!” LOLOLOL! you’re the best.

  4. Kaitlin says:

    Interesting. Thanks for the follow up!

  5. Mother says:

    It doesn’t intrigue me. I don’t think I’ve ever been ostracized by my need for solitude and I am seldom forced into it, so….until.
    Mother recently posted..A Visit to the Present

  6. Grannymar says:

    Almost eighteen years living alone, there is not much anyone can tell me about it!
    Grannymar recently posted..Work for today

  7. nick says:

    I’m often on my own and I can occupy myself very happily. I lived on my own for many years when I was young, and of course I’ve never had any children to interrupt my periods of aloneness. So I doubt if she could tell me anything new on the subject.
    nick recently posted..Spilling it out

  8. Thanks, Ramana. I did love Walden’s Pond—and have always treasured my “alone” time. I believe you cannot write, let alone think, unless you enjoy the time you spend with only yourself.
    Still the Lucky Few recently posted..My Senior Friends: Nancy and I Hit a Wall

    • I spend a great deal of time alone even when the house is full of people and activity, engrossed in my own activities. For strangers who come home, they find this quite odd!

  9. shackman says:

    I am still new to the notion of being alone. At times I enjoy it and at times it is quite depressing. Luckily I have 2 cats and a dog so I am never really totally alone. I have not yet decided if being alone is something I can embrace completely and so I hang out on facebook, here and I read a lot. Time will tell.

    • Having been there, I know what you mean. I however had another responsibility thrust almost immediately on me that took me to another three years during which period a lot of water flowed down the Mula Mutha river and I got used to the situation.

  10. Cathy in NZ says:

    I browsed at the borrowed library copy – but it wasn’t my cup of tea – and I truly couldn’t see what her views were, or even what her views were…finally I put it back into the library system

    for me – I am alone most of the time, but I don’t necessarily equate to being alone – sorry, I’m not sure what I’m saying – it’s still blazing hot here at just after 6.30pm! although there is a little breeze but at this time of the evning mosquitos start thinking anbout droppoiing by

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