Book Review: “How to be alone” by Sara Maitland

How to Be AloneHow to Be Alone by Sara Maitland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is part of  The Toolkit for Life series from the School of Life. Lightweight self-help books, which can be read in the metro where concentration is scarce. In that sense, the books under this series should not be compared to major works of literature, but are to be taken as appetizers to broader themes. A large magazine article, of sorts. In this particular book, I noticed that the author had a strong need to justify her decision of being alone – perhaps the author’s cultural context is different than mine? In any case, I found much of her advice for being alone appropriate for people that perhaps are not so trained in the matter. I have enjoyed “going solo” as long as I can remember, and can recognize the author’s narration of having intense experiences in nature. I also get high contemplating art on my own and listening to concerts without company. It is nice to be validated, but depth was lacking. Perhaps the most important contribution of this book – for me – was to induce the dream of going on a holiday on my own this fall and to motivate me to add two books to the to-read shelf (“The stations of solitude” by Alice Koller (1991) and “Walden” by Henry Thoreau (1854). More relevant references can be found in the book’s Homework section.