All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
This is a good book, but it is dense. I started it in early August and just finished it late last night because I didn’t want to carry around such a hefty hardback book, and also because I kind of just wanted to read puffy junk like “Nerve.” But I’m really glad I made it all the way through, because I think it’s an interesting and important work.
Ms. Traister breaks her book down into ten chapters that explore different facets of being an unmarried woman in the U.S., including politics and power, independence, activism, and the reality that it can be very challenging. She doesn’t spend all of her time focusing on well-off white women (as I sort of feared); instead she looks at the different ways being unmarried and a woman intersects with class and race. And these aren’t just young unmarried women – some are older women, some are young mothers, some are older mothers, and some eventually do decide to get married.
The parts that definitely resonated most with me were the sections that covered being in one’s 20s and 30s and single in a large urban area. I spent most of my 20s single, and I lived in NYC. It was mostly fantastic, although I wasn’t actively eschewing dating or staking out a claim as a singleton. I’d go through phases of dating and not dating, enjoying the solitude of being able to wander through Central Park all day on a Saturday and not have to adjust to anyone else’s schedule. And I appreciate that my family never put any pressure on me to meet a man and settle down (it probably helped that they knew I wasn’t having kids). The parts that I didn’t directly relate to – such as discussions of being a single mother, or wanting to go through fertility treatment without a partner – were still very engaging to read.
If you’re interested in some history and some current analysis of how the US treats single women, this is definitely a good choice. Just be prepared for it to take a while to get through.