New York Times travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom just published a fabulous new book, Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude. My guess is that anyone who loves traveling alone, dining alone, or spending time alone is going to love this book. I also think people who are tempted to try going solo but haven’t quite managed it will find the inspiration they need in this book.
If the author’s name sounds familiar, maybe it is because you have already been reading her great work at the Times. Or maybe you’ve read about her here at this “Single at Heart” blog – I’ve mentioned her in four previous posts (listed at the end).
I’ll have a lot more to say about Alone Time in the future, but for now, I want to share 15 of the many noteworthy quotes from the book.
- From the artist Agnes Martin: “I’ve lived alone all of my life but I didn’t get lonely. I thought I was lucky. The best things in life happen to you when you are alone.”
- From the painter Delacroix: “The things we experience for ourselves when we are alone are much stronger and much fresher.”
- Fran Lebowitz, on the three writers she would invite to a dinner party: “None. My idea of a great literary dinner party is Fran, eating alone, reading a book.”
- From Jan Swafford, biographer of Beethoven: “Alone in rooms, alone in nature, alone in his raptus, Beethoven was happiest and always would be.”
- From Proust, about his appreciation of stillness: “I discover pleasures of another kind, of tasting the good scent on the air, of not being disturbed by any visitor.”
- The famous cookbook author Marion Cunningham (e.g., The Fannie Farmer Cookbook) wanted families to sit down to dinner together more often, but she also said this: “Sometimes eating supper alone feels private, quiet, and blessedly liberating.”
- Did Greta Garbo say “I want to be alone” or “I want to be let alone”? I don’t know but here’s another quote from her about enjoying being alone: “I liked to be alone in Constantinople. I was not lonely.”
- The poet John Keats, when asked about his interest in marrying, said: “My Happiness would not be so fine, as my Solitude is sublime.” (As Rosenbloom noted, though, he did get engaged.)
- Before she married him, Amelia Earhart warned the man who would be her spouse: “You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which mean most to me.”
- When he was a boy, George Washington wrote: “‘tis better to be alone than in bad Company.” (I find that a bit too grudging. It is like when people say that it is better to be single than to be in a bad relationship. But if you love living single, then it is better to be single – no qualifications needed.)
- Another from Delacroix: “How can one keep one’s enthusiasm concentrated on a subject when one is always at the mercy of other people and in constant need of their society?”
- From Anthony Storr, author of one of the most influential books on solitude: “Even those who have the happiest relationships need something other than those relationships to complete their fulfillment.” (Here are more of his thoughts on solitude.)
- A friend thought it was a shame that Michelangelo wasn’t married and did not have sons who would inherit his art. Michelangelo disagreed: “I’ve always had only too harassing a wife in this demanding art of mine, and the works I leave behind will be my sons.”
- From the poet Charles Bukowski: “My happiest times were when I was left alone in the house on a Saturday.”
- From the author of Alone Time, Stephanie Rosenbloom, on dining alone: “When you’re not sitting across from someone, you’re sitting across from the world.”
Previous “Single at Heart” blog posts mentioning Alone Time author Stephanie Rosenbloom: