I sat down tonight to update my reading list. I haven’t written down the books I’ve been reading since… JULY?? How can that be?
Noticeably, several of the books I’ve read in recent months (well, within the last year, I guess) have had to do with being single. Blame it on the local Goodwill, maybe, where suddenly a slew of books showed up having to do with being single and being Christian. Oh, and being a girl. My guess is somebody got married and thought, “hey! These have absolutely no use for me anymore, so I can make some room on my bookshelf!”
That’s on top of the book I already owned (well, two now) and the ones I’d found via handy local libraries.
So, for your edification, a rundown of the books I’ve read and what I thought about them. (They’re in no particular order and their inclusion doesn’t necessarily mean I recommend them, as you’ll see.)
What is He Thinking?, Rebecca St. James
“What guys want us to know about dating, love, and marriage.” What gal wouldn’t be interested in that, despite the Oxford comma? St. James interviewed 16 guys ranging from fresh out of high school to a settled-down 35. Sounded promising, but it was kinda heavy on the idealistic 19-year-old wisdom, I thought. And on the cliché things like “modest is hottest” (see pg. 88). All in all, it was mildly interesting, but mainly a scrapbook of quotes from St. James’ guy friends. Which is, I suppose, all it claimed to be. I’m just not so sure that those guys were very representative of Christian guys in general, or that they were really thinking what they said they were. ** of five.
Singled Out, Bella DePaulo
Talk about attitude. This woman insists that singles are not generally more selfish, lonely or carefree. She does it armed with a lot of research that, being a Ph.D., she says she’s highly qualified to explain. While she builds a solid case for some of what she says, what she’s picked are just some of the thousands of sociological studies that are out there. In my opinion, a sociological case can be made (on the basis of study after study) for just about anything. Just reading the book gave me the feeling that she’s spoiled and has a very narrow view of life. (She really thinks singles have exactly the same quality and quantity of responsibility as married folks and parents…. even I know that doesn’t make sense.) But it’s worth reading to get the secular take on singlehood and how a secular single stereotypes married, conservative folks – and to determine, maybe by contrast or argument (as I did), what your own thoughts about singlehood are. ***
Revelations of a Single Woman, Connally Gilliam
This is actually the most recent one I’ve read (finished it, oh, probably a month ago). It was like a draught of cold lake Erie breeze after the stuffy stench of downtown Cleveland. I bought it at Goodwill only because the author – whom I’d never heard of – was a “life coach” for the Navigators. I have a lot of respect for the Navigators organization so I figured, hey, it’s got to be worth at least 75 cents. It was – if not for the impeccable literary consciousness with which she writes, then for the profound insight she has into living life as a single, Christian girl. This is the one I might give some married friend for insight into single life beyond college. *****
Dating and Waiting, William P. Risk
And of the books on this list, this is the first I read. Several years ago, in fact. And I’ve re-read it at least twice since then, since it’s chock-full of Biblical insight into “looking for love in all the right places,” as the subtitle says it. I first picked it up because it had a blurb from Elisabeth Elliot Gren, author of Passion and Purity (which, incidentally, I’ve never read). The author himself was single for many years (though he did marry partway through writing the book) and led a singles’ Bible study for some time, plus he has his fair share of Bible school training, so what he’s writing isn’t just off-the-cuff anecdotes about living single. The last portion of the book, “A Psalter for Psingles,” is especially worthwhile. *****
Table for One, Camerin Courtney
I was hoping this would be a Goodwill gem. Oh well. She’s a Christian, she’s single, and somebody thought the world needed another book full of anecdotes and cute sidebars with tips for surviving singleness. It reminded me of one of those “Idiot’s Guide” books, as if singleness were an issue to be troubleshooted, solved or understood in five easy steps. But it’s more than that. It’s a stage in life to be lived with a view to God’s glory. “The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Singleness” is how the book’s billed, but sorry, I can’t recommend this one. Sure, there was some good stuff in it – but there is that in nearly every book. The trick is to find the books in which 95 percent of the content is “good stuff.” ***
The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis
Just because I can’t bear to make a booklist without including something by C. S. Lewis. But honestly, he has a lot to say about stuff that single girls wonder about. Love, mostly, but friendship too. And I suppose that reading this will help you – and me – understand what it is, exactly, that we think we’re missing, and realize the value of the loves we already have. Lewis puts them in the context of God and his love toward us, too; one of the explanations I remember best is about how friendships idolized become the clique that’s the bane of middle schools and Kiwanis clubs everywhere. But friendships and family relationships are more important than some realize, I think. You’ve seen those dropped like hot coals by some girls, haven’t you, when “the one” finally came along? So this book is one way to open your eyes again to what you’ve got to be grateful for. *****
So. Have you read any of these books? What other books have you read and thought about as a book peculiarly suited for singles?
P.S. Yes, I’ve read I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Everybody has. Who cares?