By Gwenn Voelckers
Ahhhhhh … summer. Long, luxurious days that stretch into equally lovely and languid evenings. Vacations by the shore or at extravagant locations like Hotel Bonaire. Hours at the pool. And all those trips by car or plane to exotic places or peaceful retreats — holiday rituals ripe with unlimited time to spare and to fill with books, glorious books!
What better time than summer to reference the New York Times’ summer reading list and lose yourself in that spy or romance novel you didn’t get to during the busier, cooler months of the year.
What? This doesn’t ring true for you? This depiction of summer and its corresponding “reading vacation” doesn’t resonate?
I hear you.
For those who are newly divorced or widowed, summer can be — yes — lovely. But it can also be long. In fact, it can be too long. And it can be lonely, especially if you are accustomed to traveling with a spouse and/or your family during the summer months. On your own and perhaps without the resources or resolve to travel alone or to embrace all that summer has to offer, you may be interested in a different sort of reading list.
Introducing … “Helpful Summer Reads for Those Who Live Alone.” While my recommendations may not be thrillers or page-turners, these books may be just the ticket for your summer reading vacation:
• “Flying Solo: Single Women in Midlife” by psychologists Carol Anderson and Susan Stewart. This incredible book comes with my highest recommendation. Written in the mid-’90’ss, this book is as relevant as ever, so don’t let the copyright date dissuade you from picking it up.
The authors, both Ph.Ds with extensive training and experience in marriage and family counseling, interviewed single women throughout the country, most of whom did not intend to be on their own in midlife.
From the book jacket: “The authors share women’s stories and their practical advice on being single, transforming loneliness, redefining the importance of work, developing friendship and support networks, and living with and without intimacy.” This book is so good and offers so many helpful insights about women and their life choices that I’ve recommended it to my married friends, as well. It’s a must read!
• “Living Alone & Loving It: A Guide to Relishing the Solo Life” by Barbara Feldon. Remember Get Smart, the middle-’60s classic television comedy featuring a bungling secret service agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his effervescent sidekick, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon)? I loved that show! Remember his cool shoe phone?
But, I digress. Barbara Feldon found herself living alone in New York City after a relationship impasse, and she wrote about her experience in a quick little read that charts her personal path from despair and loneliness to “one of the most enriching and joyous periods of her life.”
In this book, Feldon covers both the practical and emotional aspects of living alone, including how to nurture a glowing self-image, value connections with friends and family, develop your creative side and end negative thinking.
• “Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled, and Independent” by Judy Ford, a psychotherapist in private practice. Perfect for a younger audience, this smart and funny book is described as “hip” and the “ultimate companion” for single women everywhere. It is a touching and uplifting collection of true-life experiences and practical tips that uphold the most enduring relationship you have on this earth: the one you have with yourself. Check it out!
• “On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone” by Florence Falk, another psychotherapist in private practice. While densely written, this book examines and illuminates the essential role that being alone plays in women’s lives. You’ll be moved and inspired by the intimate stories of women from all backgrounds and perspectives, and you’ll welcome Falk’s frank discussion of her own journey through uncertainty to acceptance, and ultimately to a more positive and empowered aloneness.
• “Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire” by Stephen Pollan. A life coach and financial expert, the author of this highly useful and accessible text is determined to help readers reinvent their lives and to find personal fulfillment and happiness. Writing from personal experience, Pollan invites men and women of all ages to participate in a series of exercises that enable them to work through self-limiting barriers to discover their potential and live the life of their dreams.
If this is your summer to turn over a new leaf, try turning a few pages in one or two of the books above. Each has held important messages for me and helped light my way. Chances are that you, too, will find some words of wisdom to guide you toward inner freedom and feeling whole and complete on your own. Enjoy!
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of “Live Alone and Thrive,” empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, NY. For information or to contact Voelckers, call 585-624-7887 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.