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In the first 100 pages of Spinster, Kate Bolick writes, “I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found” and she couldn’t be more right. Oddly enough, for me, it was her book.

I was looking forward to reading Spinster long before I had a copy in my hands. I was fascinated by the story of a modern, intelligent woman explaining her decision to remain single, never marry, and live her life on her own, perhaps unconventional, terms. Also, the gorgeous cover helped too (LOVE that neon!)

I knew I loved the book after only a few pages, when this gorgeous passage graced the page:

“But when I set my suitcase on the floor and started to undress, my ears adjusted to that seductive hush unique to libraries and childhood bedroomsa busy, almost trance-inducing silence, a noiseless hum, as if all those abandoned books and journals buzzed on an alternative frequency straining to be tappeduntil slowly the hush became reality itself.”

To me, this is perfection. I could close my eyes and feel the buzz in my own childhood bedroom, but I could also easily picture Bolick herself, standing among the innocence of her own room and contemplating her future.

What followed were many more pages of carefully crafted, introspective thoughts on living life the way you choose to. When Bolick’s beloved mother passes away, she is catapulted into both intense grief and a call to action. Armed with her books, her true love, she summons inspiration from five of her literary heroes: women who have lived bravely; consistently demanding more from themselves and their lives.

I carted this book around for weeks, slowly digesting idea after idea. Bolick does some fantastic behavioural research and combines it with historical fact and biographical insight. Friends and coworkers often asked why I lovingly toted around a book about choosing to be unmarried with an engagement ring on my hand. It’s because what Bolick defends is not a woman’s right to not marry, but a woman’s right to decide the path of her own life.

Perhaps what I recognized most about myself in those pages were two things: the ability to find yourself within literary works and people, and also the desire for time alone. Like I mentioned in my Decompressing post, I am a very solitary person. Though I am extremely sociable and chatty, my recharge is hours of silence and alone time. It’s both how I unwind and how I get myself back in order. Bolick does homage to “alone time” like no one I’ve seen before; everything from decorating your space to represent you, to coming home from a high energy evening to a quiet solace. I totally get that, and the people who love me do too. Unlike Bolick, I do still achieve this time and spacial quiet with a man in my life, but I completely respect her plans not to.

Though Bolick and I lead very different lives, I related to her in so many ways, and that’s what made this book so special to me. There were things I didn’t agree with (like the references to marriage being a way to solve the issue of paying bills on your own) but there were so many things I did (like the love of solitary time and the ability to use books to guide yourself in a time of need).

Not only did Spinster make me relish in the glory of how books can shape your life, it also added a ton of books to my to-read list. Of the five literary ladies Bolick speaks about, you will most likely recognize a few, and a few others may be complete enigmas. I became fascinated with her portrayal of Maeve Brennan, and quickly ordered myself a collection of her New Yorker columns. (I won’t tell you much else about her because Bolick does it too well for me to even attempt to replicate.)

So all of that to say, this book will be a game-changer. Whether you agree with Bolick and fall in love with Spinster like I did, or if you whole-heartedly disagree, you will want to talk about this. And I can’t wait to be there when you do.

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10 thoughts on “Why I Loved ‘Spinster’

  1. I really want to read this! I think you summed it up perfectly here: “It’s because what Bolick defends is not a woman’s right to not marry, but a woman’s right to decide the path of her own life.” That’s what gender equality is really about. Spinster is such a derogatory term, I’m glad she’s owning it this way. No one ever makes comments about men *choosing* to remain single. You’ve been teasing us about this book for months and I want to read it so bad!

    • I think the criticism for this book is mainly around the fact that people don’t find her “single enough” and I find that so infuriating. The book IS about living on your own terms, not putting a hex on men and staying away from them. There are so other very valuable criticisms which is partially why I love it so much; it makes you think hard and come to conclusions whether or not you agree with hers. I can’t wait to hear what you personally think!

      • Which is exactly why she needed to write this book. People are getting distracted by the title and missing the point completely. Her point is clearly that women should be able to lead whatever version of their lives they want: married, single, common-law, open marriage, whatever. I’m DYING to read this but I fear I will have to wait til at least June. Why don’t you live near me so I can borrow your copy???

  2. This sounds like a truly wonderful book. Definitely one that’s being added to my wish list. When you said “what Bolick defends is… a woman’s right to decide the path of her own life” I was sold immediately!

  3. Pingback: April in Review | Chels & a Book

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