Kirkus has given How We Live Now its coveted starred review, “awarded to books of exceptional merit”
Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW:
An eye-opening survey of the different living arrangements Americans have come to embrace… An informative and inspirational guide to the myriad ways of making a home. Read More
How We Live Now is awarded a place on the Kirkus list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2015
The Sacramento Bee named How We Live Now as one of their 13 must-read nonfiction books.
How We Live Now has been named to the list of
12 Nonfiction Books Every Woman Needs to Read (along with books by Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and others)
KATE BOLICK, author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own:
The so-called demise of the nuclear family is revolutionizing how we live. With characteristic curiosity and warmth, Bella DePaulo synthesizes surprising historical facts, contemporary statistics, and original reporting to animate the breathtaking array of ingenuity on offer, from the national Village movement to niche innovations such as single mothers banding together under one roof. Both a documentary of a changing America, and a guidebook, How We Live Now is indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand—or take part in—the myriad ways in which people are reinventing domestic spaces to suit individual needs and desires.
HUGH RYAN, Los Angeles Review of Books:
Her book is an exuberant exploration of what is possible, divided into chapters based around different kinds of non–nuclear-family lifespaces: intergenerational families, friend-based groups, intentional communities, married couples who live apart, etc.
DePaulo comes from a social science and journalism background, and her book is like a series of short profiles on lifespace pioneers, studded with fascinating facts and statistics like “[a] twenty-year-old in 2000 was more likely to have a living grandmother than a twenty-year-old in 1900 was to have a living mother.”… Her engaging, positive tone makes you root for her subjects… her book is infused with a warmth that colors each lifespace she examines like an Instagram filter, bringing out its best look.
DePaulo’s cross-country survey of living arrangements shatters the illusion that the average American belongs to a nuclear family living in a single-family home in the suburbs. In co-housing communities along the West Coast, she discovers that residents of all generations have found happiness in common gardens and shared meals. Meanwhile, seniors have become “lifespace” pioneers, eschewing institutions and creating their own senior communities, sometimes with juniors involved as well. In Chicago, foster families and older adults enrich one another’s lives in the appropriately named Hope Meadows. Other lifestyle approaches and strategies covered here include house sharing, finding social networks (not necessarily in the online sense), and keeping a home separately from one’s partner. DePaolo’s descriptions of these living arrangements are punctuated with quotes from her extensive interviews with “the people who let me into their homes and their lives,” providing the book with a wide range of voices. If it falls short of a call for inspiring urban planners, architects, and developers to think differently, it is because the book is, by design, an exploration of personal choice and expression. Agent: Melissa Flashman, Trident Media. (Aug.)
Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo:
The nuclear family never worked for everyone, and today it doesn’t have to, because we’ve embarked on an unprecedented social experiment in how to live. In this inspiring book, Bella DePaulo reports on the innovative ways people are settling down, creating communities, and remaking the home and family in the 21st century.
Jan Cullinane, author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement:
From single moms living together to raise their children, to couples who are LATs (Living Apart Together), to mature adults thriving in co-housing communities, Bella DePaulo takes us on a fascinating journey of real people sharing dwellings and sharing their lives in new and creative ways. How We Live Now is informative, compelling, impeccably researched, and may ignite the spark to create your own best ‘lifespace.’
Rebecca Zwick, Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Barbara:
These days married people are living separately, unrelated people are living together in every imaginable configuration, and many folks are living happily alone. Bella DePaulo’s new book, How We Live Now, not only tells us who’s living under which roofs, but what’s going on behind closed doors. How are these living situations affecting everyday experience and changing the very definition of family? Fascinating!
Annamarie Pluhar, author of Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates:
This book is full of engaging personal interviews and valuable social science research. It debunks many commonly held myths and paints an attractive picture of the diverse living arrangements possible. We are clearly moving away from the nuclear family as an ideal. Especially interesting is DePaulo’s conclusion that friendship is the ideal in the twenty-first century.
Nancy Collins, expert on interpersonal relationships and health psychology and Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara:
In this timely and illuminating book, Bella DePaulo documents a quiet but profound revolution in the way people define family, home, and community. With warmth and insight, DePaulo shares stories of men and women of all ages who are letting go of familiar scripts and finding new ways of creating a caring and comfortable place to call home. How We Live Now is a fascinating portrait of a changing domestic landscape in which friends, siblings, and extended family take center stage. From multi-generational families and co-housing communities, to couples “living apart together,” to men and women living single – people are cultivating new lifespaces to “solve the puzzles” of their lives. How We Live Now is essential reading for anyone who wants to create the life they desire by making mindful choices about the way they live.
Susan Hurt, JD., PhD, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist:
How We Live Now (HWLN) has been a tour de force for me… It addresses cravings for solitude, for connectedness, for intimacy, for support, for freedom, and for fulfillment. Read More
HWLN explores the intersection of relationships and life-spaces, primarily focusing on the needs to balance cravings. It addresses cravings for solitude, for connectedness, for intimacy, for support, for freedom, and for fulfillment. The subjects of the book, ranging in age from 19 to 91 and covering an unimaginable breadth of relationship choices and experiences, were chosen for their creativity in arranging the physical structure and movements of their lives to find the balances they seek. Other reviewers have noted that the book focuses on success stories and is not countered by failed experiments in departing from the status quo. I see the book as focusing on life-space pioneers, and I found myself equally moved by the challenges and struggles that launched the departures as I was by the expressions of self-discovery, existential fulfillment, and finding a true home.For the tour that is this book, I strongly recommend that readers stay close to their internet portal. I found myself constantly digressing from my place on the page while I surfed for images of the described life-spaces. I also indulged an urgent need to join the mailing list for co-housing in my community and to explore volunteer opportunities at a nearby chapter of Village-to-Village. HWLN provokes that strong a sense of the potential for meaningfulness in these life-space innovations.For me, the primary feeling while reading HWLN was admiration for the pioneers. Some secondary feelings were mild anxiety over my perception of a perception of the unimportance of men in child-rearing, which may or may not have actually been present. The innovations also run the gamut in terms of their feasibility, should large numbers of people choose them. The book is not prescriptive, though. It captures, it approaches, it describes. Most importantly, it unpacks prevailing assumptions about the best ways to package human beings through architecture, neighborhood, and closeness and distance of other human beings. The in-depth interview method allows the reader to explore, in very thought-provoking ways, these early individual forays. HWLN is masterful at grouping truly idiosyncratic life-space choices in a manner that reveals their motivations and apparently unstoppable momentum. Finally, Bella’s writing style is easy and a naturally good match for the story-telling that makes up the tour.
Marty Babits, Co-Director of Family and Couples Treatment Service:
A Must-Read, Courageous and Provocative, Well Researched.
This important book, How We Live Now, focuses on the ways in which activists, architects, and others are re-conceptualizing the settings that best create a sense of community for their dwellers. DePaulo develops a sub-theme that moves the reader into a very different yet equally valuable sphere. Her discussion illuminates the notion of emotional intimacy itself. She talks about the balance that we all struggle to maintain between our need for privacy and solitude while also addressing our need for connection and companionship.
DePaulo describes innovative settings that promote a feeling of connection. There is careful discussion of how and why potential partners in a living situation need to methodically explore many dimensions of knowing one another before they live together. Exploring compatibility for child-rearing is given the kind of intensive scrutiny that, unfortunately, often is missing prior to the decision to parent. The emphasis here is on mindfulness, preparedness, conscious decision-making and humility in staking out the parameters of what living together means, and what child-rearing entails—notably cooperation and communication.
DePaulo talks to the reader about the research-backed trends towards greater valuing of friendship between those who co-habitate and married folk alike. The book elaborates on the social trend that is enabling more and more of the elderly to avoid institutionalization, to remain as in-control of their environment for as long as they possibly can, without feeling isolated in an apartment. The author talks about structuring multi-generational communities in such a way as to afford the elderly greater personal care and connection while, at the same time, giving them opportunities to contribute to the care and development of others—often that involves children in need of adult attention. Many of the interviewees in this book are impressive social innovators who accomplish remarkable feats by bringing people together for mutual advantage. The single mom who has, over time, aided thousands of other single moms across America to find co-parenting partners comes to mind. The stories are instructive and inspirational. They validate a humanistic side of our culture that is often overlooked, and certainly under-publicized.
[See also the REVIEWS at the bottom of this page.]