27th April, 2019

Review: Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom (Viking Books)

As our daily lives are growing increasingly hectic,  a lot of people are deeply afraid of being alone. However, there is scientific evidence that solitude can be both rewarding and soul centreing, especially when we are travelling. In her travelogue journalist Rosenbloom considers how being alone as a traveller helps us become genuinely aware of the beautiful details of the world. The reader follows Rosenbloom through four cities, the last of which being the author's home, and experiences the sounds, smells and sights of these places through the lens of the solitary traveller.

Alone Time consists of four sections, each set in a different city, a different season. The locations - Paris, Istanbul, Florence, New York - are all "walkable", turning the solitary traveller into a flaneur.  Rosenbloom includes scientific insights on the relationship between hapiness and solitude from experts such as psychologists and sociologists and discusses topics like the joys of going to a restaurant alone, learning to delight in the mundanest of activities, (re)discovering places and interests, and finding silent spaces in busy metropoles. Alone Time is an extremely heart-warming and intimate account of how important it is to savour solitude from time to time, and it will make you want to start your own solitary journey.

What I liked particularly about Rosenbloom's book was the way that individual moments are relished. As someone who tremendously enjoys spending time alone and who has gone on many journeys by herself, I found myself in so many of these pages. Rosenbloom’s book is an homage to the feeling of enjoying the solitary moment, and it is truly revelatory in its wonderful talk of the joys of anticipation: "To anticipate is to court joy, to fall in love with a place the way it is in a book or a movie or an Eartha Kitt song. But to stay open to the unexpected is to embrace anticipation - to know that it serves its purpose before the journey begins and must then be set aside for reality, for whatever beautiful, strange, unpredictable thing awaits when we step off the ferry." Perfect!

If you are an introvert and enjoy the blissful state of solitude, you will want to read this book. It is a very calm read and I also recommend it to anyone who's planning on travelling alone or is maybe still struggling to find the courage to go solo. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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