Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Table for One, or Happy Singles Awareness Day

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

Among the notable holiday filled with hearts and flowers, February 14th is also Singles Awareness Day. Or S.A.D. Yes, it’s MEANT to be funny. As a professional single person – seriously, I’ve been table-for-oneing for so long they should just give me an honorary Ph.D. from Harvard – you can probably imagine how I feel about the more traditional of the two holidays celebrated in the middle of February. But my disdain for Valentine’s Day does not, as most people assume, have anything to do with loneliness or regret or anything else vaguely Sylvia Plath-y.

Nope, my wrinkled, up-turned nose is directly related to the vomitous assumption that being in a relationship is far superior to being single. This assumption is always brewing under the surface of most “smug marrieds,” but on Valentine’s Day, it runs rampant, much to the chagrin of happy “Singletons.” (Praise be to Bridget Jones). It is possible to be gleefully single, and still enjoy the hell out of Feb. 14th. I recommend taking yourself out for dinner, sending yourself flowers (or pairing with your favorite single friend and sending flowers to each other), and reading a good thank-goodness-I’m-single book.

The very best of these books come in two forms (and I’m speaking strictly on behalf of the ladies. You single men are on your own): Men Suck, I’d Rather Be Alone; and Women Rule, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Man.

While these categories are not mutually exclusive, generally they’re appropriate for very different moods. Some examples?

In the Men Suck, I’d Rather Be Alone category, you’ve got stellar classics like Neil Strauss’ The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists and the oh-so-enlightening I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max. If these delightful non-fiction looks at misogyny aren’t enough to make you want to stay single forever, how about some fictional protagonists to encourage you along?

My favorites:

  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Nothing like a serial killer hopped up on 80s pop (aw yeah, Huey Lewis), cocaine and his own bravado to really make you reconsider that whole heteronormative expectation thing.
  2. The Fuck-Up by Arthur Nersesian. Yeah, ’cause I really want to date a guy who, among other things, poses as a gay man to keep his job at a porno theater.
  3. The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen. If this drooling neanderthal of a narrator, a 13-year-old stuck in the body of a man in his late 20s, is AVERAGE, I weep for the future of humanity. (Do men REALLY think about sex that much?)
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Humbert Humbert is the ultimate fictional skeezeball. Note: pedophilia and kidnapping do not equal love. Singledom wins again.
  5. Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. This guy is a piece of work. A liar, a scoundrel, a bully, and a coward, this is not the type of guy you’d bring home to Mom. Or introduce to Dad’s mistress apparently.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Women Rule, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Man books. These are the feminist, ass-kicking chicks we all have girl crushes on. Usually they’re the heroes of their own damn stories and the men in their lives either can’t keep up or are too pathetic to matter. The best of this genre:

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. The original ass-kicker women, the wives of Jacob – Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah – are Biblically awesome and are all about each other. In this telling, Jacob is a footnote. Talk about sister wives! (Give it up for my namesake, Rachel.)
  2. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Team Peeta? Team Gale? Hell no, we’re solidly Team Katniss. She’s the ultimate in dystopian badassery. She will make Twi-hards weep with regret that they backed the wrong freakin’ horse.
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Lisbeth Salander is no wilting flower. She’s one of the most victimized women I’ve ever read and instead of letting it kill her, she uses it and channels it into punishing the victimizers. Hells yes.
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Without giving anything away about the end, I vote for Idgie as one of the awesomest tomboys in literature. She doesn’t take crap from anybody.
  5. Just Kids by Patti Smith. The autobiography of the First Lady of Punk? Yes please. She rocks so hard, she definitely doesn’t need no stinkin’ man.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Not just repressed by a few dudes, the two women at the center of this book are repressed by their whole damn male-centric society. And they totally fight the power. Rock on for women as life-givers!

    So there you go. Over a dozen reasons why Singledom is so much more awesome than Smug Coupledom. I advise reading these with a solid background soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac and Aretha Franklin, at your kickass Table of One.