Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
Alone Time is a non-fiction memoir of self-discovery. The author believes that the single person, as a commodity, is a growing market particularly for travel and dining alone, whilst time alone is good for the soul: it can reduce stress, lessen anger and provide the opportunity to be reflective.
With this in mind Stephanie Rosenbloom travelled to four cities to explore and experience them through solo travel. Paris in June, Istanbul in summer, Florence in autumn and New York in winter.
The book is split into short chapters, making it easy to dip in and out depending on the reader’s interest in each location. Each section is interspersed with quotes and references as well as the author’s own thoughts. I wasn’t a fan of all those citations and testimonials as they took me away from the author’s experience which made the book a disjointed read for me.
I have never considered heading to a city to spend my quiet thinking time there alone. However, for hundreds of years pilgrims have used lone journeys to their destinations of choice as a time for reflection, so I can see where the author is coming from. This book combines Rosenbloom’s own desires to find answers with her interest in the benefits of solo travel.
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In our increasingly frantic daily lives, many people are genuinely fearful of the prospect of solitude, but time alone can be both rich and restorative, especially when travelling. Through on-the-ground reporting and recounting the experiences of artists, writers, and innovators who cherished solitude, Stephanie Rosenbloom considers how being alone as a traveller–and even in one’s own city–is conducive to becoming acutely aware of the sensual details of the world–patterns, textures, colors, tastes, sounds–in ways that are difficult to do in the company of others.
Alone Time is divided into four parts, each set in a different city, in a different season, in a single year. The destinations–Paris, Istanbul, Florence, New York–are all pedestrian-friendly, allowing travelers to slow down and appreciate casual pleasures instead of hurtling through museums and posting photos to Instagram. Each section spotlights a different theme associated with the joys and benefits of time alone and how it can enable people to enrich their lives–facilitating creativity, learning, self-reliance, as well as the ability to experiment and change. Rosenbloom incorporates insights from psychologists and sociologists who have studied solitude and happiness, and explores such topics as dining alone, learning to savor, discovering interests and passions, and finding or creating silent spaces. Her engaging and elegant prose makes Alone Timeas warmly intimate an account as the details of a trip shared by a beloved friend–and will have its many readers eager to set off on their own solo adventures.