I came across Anneli Rufus’ Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto through Amazon’s recommendation feature which is based on your previous purchases. I’m glad I did, it was certainly worth the read. As an extreme introvert, loner, I just knew I had to give this book a chance.
Party of One, a long-overdue argument in defense of the loner, then and now, finds Rufus defending all the loners in the world who get a bad name simply for preferring to be by themselves. Assembling evidence from every arena of culture, such as art, film, pop culture, and advertising, as well as interviews with experts and loners worldwide, Rufus rebuts the prevailing notion that aloneness is indistinguishable from loneliness, the fallacy that all of those who are alone don't want to be, and wouldn't be, if only they knew how.
The book has quite a few good points and quotes that can be pulled for one’s personal use and research, but overall, I agree with Publisher Weekly’s review when it says that Rufus’ book “feels as if too much random information has been cut-and-pasted together.” It was hard to pinpoint the underlying message of the book or the motive for the book’s existence. It felt like the author might have been trying too hard, but it is unclear as to what she was trying for. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading it for the most part, though I admit quite a few parts were rather dry reading. I think the book would have worked better had it been divided up into little column sized pieces, released one at a time in smaller doses.
What I liked about Party of One in particular were the Introduction, Art, Literature, and Film chapters. I found those the most interesting and enjoyable to read, and actually quite fascinating. I wish the whole book was as interesting as those chapters. I also appreciated the descriptions and reasons Rufus provided for loners and why loners are the way they are. I was able to pull a few to add to my growing toolbox for when I have to explain/defend my loner self to others. For instance, in the introduction Rufus explains, “We do not require company, the opposite in varying degrees, it bores us, drains us, makes our eyes glaze over,” and then “We are the ones who know how to entertain ourselves. How to learn without taking a class. How to contemplate and how to create.”
Though my favorite quote used in the book didn’t come from Rufus herself, but from Franz Kafka, “I have always had this fear of people, not actually of the people themselves, but of their intrusion.” It pretty much sums up my feelings towards people perfectly. Gems like this one and others are what makes reading this book worthwhile. I would recommend it for that reason, but only to people willing to mine it like a stream for gold, in the sense that you’ll have to dig through a lot of debris to get to the small nuggets.
I give it a 5/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....