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7 Deeply Satisfying Reads with Happily Single Protagonists

Share 7 Deeply Satisfying Reads with Happily Single Protagonists

Melissa Croce is a Pacific Northwest native who left her beloved rainy region behind to work in publishing in New York, where she markets books to librarians. When she’s not working, she can be found sleeping, reading tarot cards, watching hockey games, and spending way too much time on the internet. You can find her on Twitter @MelissaCroce or at Melissa-Croce.com.

A good, romantic love story can be a lot of fun, that’s undeniable, but there can also be something deeply satisfying about a fiercely independent protagonist who lives life on their own terms, romantic partner or not.

In my book Single and Forced to Mingle, I advocate for why being single is just as, if not more so, awesome as being in a relationship. In one section, I imagine what it would be like if certain classic literary heroines were modern millennial women, and when it came to some of those women, they didn’t end up with their canon love interest. For the below seven titles, the protagonists or themes embody some aspect of singledom, and why it can be so great.

Circe
by Madeline Miller

The minor-goddess Circe (from Homer’s THE ODYSSEY) is the epitome of a single woman, as she lives completely alone in exile on a small, rocky island. She might’ve been known as a goddess of magic, but she really should’ve been known as the goddess of social distancing, am I right? Circe builds a beautiful life for herself, finding her inner strength and savvy when hordes of men invade her island, including the wily Odysseus. Lyrical, heart-wrenching, and as enchanting as Circe’s magic, this Greek mythology re-imagining is not to be missed.

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Circe
Madeline Miller

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I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith

This classic coming-of-age story follows the eccentric, impoverished Mortmain family, particularly the whip-smart teenager Cassandra, who narrates through diary entries. Cassandra is tethered to a crumbling castle as she tries to help various members of her family, including her writer father and scheming sister. Along the way, Cassandra deals with both wanted and unwanted suitors, and, more importantly, figures out her own ambitions and takes steps to forge a future as bright as she is.

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I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of February

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 26, 2021

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By Charlie Gilmour | February 25, 2021

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Longing to Travel? Explore France with These 9 Magnifique Reads

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By Sara Roncero-Menendez | February 22, 2021

A Profound Historical Novel about Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival

By Holly Claytor | February 19, 2021

Close
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
by Christina Lauren

Listen! Some single people might not want to be in a relationship, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to have a little bit of romantic fun! Hazel, with her quirky personality, knows she’s not exactly “a catch,” and Josh, fresh off a painful breakup, knows he’s not in the best headspace, either. The two longtime friends take great fun in setting each other up with other people, and have even more fun hanging out with each other in between. But they’re absolutely not dating (sure, ok). This is a lighthearted, effervescent read about learning how to love yourself and how to surround yourself with people who do too.

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Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
Christina Lauren

Most men can’t handle Hazel. But her best friend Josh isn’t most men. Don’t miss New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren’s new novel about two people who are definitely not dating…no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

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Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy Dunne seem like the picture-perfect couple—the golden boy and the cool girl—but that illusion is shattered when Amy disappears and Nick discovers, through passages of Amy’s diary, that she wasn’t who he, and the rest of the world, thought she was. Who was Amy Dunne and where did she go? Whether you know the twist or not, Amy Dunne is the epitome of a girl who should be single and never forced to mingle, with anyone, ever again.

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Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

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A Profound Historical Novel about Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival

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Close
Cocaine Blues
by Kerry Greenwood

If you aren’t familiar with the Honorable Phryne Fisher, then I highly suggest that you pick up the first book in the mystery series by Kerry Greenwood (or watch the fantastic TV adaptation Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries). Phryne lives a high-flying life in 1920’s England, but the adventuring, independent woman bores of the petty tedium and moves across the world to Melbourne, Australia, to become a “lady detective.” Miss Fisher is the epitome of a single woman who lives her life exactly how she pleases, no matter what her friends, family, or others in society say, and is honestly who I want to be when I grow up.

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Cocaine Blues
Kerry Greenwood

If Nancy grew up in the Jazz Age, she would be Phryne Fisher. The socialite flapper is bored of English high society and decides to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. The clever and spunky sleuth’s first case involves poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, and communism.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of February

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 26, 2021

Author Picks: 6 Memoirs That Stuck with Me Long after the Last Page

By Charlie Gilmour | February 25, 2021

Our 16 Most Anticipated New Reads of March

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 24, 2021

Longing to Travel? Explore France with These 9 Magnifique Reads

By Alice Martin | February 23, 2021

10 Heartwarming Reads That’ll Melt the Winter Cold Away

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | February 22, 2021

A Profound Historical Novel about Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival

By Holly Claytor | February 19, 2021

Close
How to Date Men When You Hate Men
by Blythe Roberson

Moving into nonfiction, this is a comedic, philosophical book as one woman muses about how to navigate heterosexual dating when it seems like relations between men and women are more fraught than ever. Full of sage advice, hilarious anecdotes, and self-deprecating humor, Roberson embodies so much about what it means to be a young, single woman, torn between wanting to be romantically close to men while also fearing and hating them (and not even hating them, but rather, society’s expectations about love, dating, and marriage).

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How to Date Men When You Hate Men
Blythe Roberson

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of February

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Author Picks: 6 Memoirs That Stuck with Me Long after the Last Page

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Close
All the Single Ladies
by Rebecca Traister

How could I make a list of books about single people and leave this off? Traister explores the statistics and implications of single women in the twenty-first century, and what it means for society that women are putting off getting married, if at all. What she found is that when women are given more choices than just marriage, incredible social change occurs. Informative, brilliant, and powerful, ALL THE SINGLE LADIES is a must-read for anyone, single, female or otherwise (especially that nagging relative who wonders why you haven’t settled down yet).

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All the Single Ladies
Rebecca Traister

For your feminist friends

Rebecca Traister offers a comprehensive study of the power of independent women in America through the fascinating history of unmarried women and their lasting, radical effect on the nation.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of February

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 26, 2021

Author Picks: 6 Memoirs That Stuck with Me Long after the Last Page

By Charlie Gilmour | February 25, 2021

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By Off the Shelf Staff | February 24, 2021

Longing to Travel? Explore France with These 9 Magnifique Reads

By Alice Martin | February 23, 2021

10 Heartwarming Reads That’ll Melt the Winter Cold Away

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | February 22, 2021

A Profound Historical Novel about Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival

By Holly Claytor | February 19, 2021

Close
Single and Forced to Mingle
by Melissa Croce

SINGLE AND FORCED TO MINGLE is out now!

A laugh-out-loud, tongue-in-cheek guidebook filled with hilarious and helpful advice—from how to dodge family members’ unwanted questions about babies to successfully creating a fake partner during wedding season—for anyone trying to survive and thrive in the midst of singledom. Perfect for fans of HEY LADIES! and SINGLE STATE OF MIND.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Single and Forced to Mingle
Melissa Croce

“Hilarious.” —Cosmopolitan

A laugh-out-loud, tongue-in-cheek guidebook filled with hilarious and helpful advice—from how to dodge family members’ unwanted questions about babies to successfully creating a fake partner during wedding season—for anyone trying to survive and thrive in the midst of singledom. Perfect for fans of Hey Ladies! and Single State of Mind.

So, you’re single. Whether existing sans partner is a new state of being or you’ve been on this solo journey for a while, the fact of the matter is this: being single is actually awesome.

You can do whatever you want, travel wherever you want, and be your truest, most free self. But there are a lot of people out there—your mom, your married best friend, the wedding industry, society—who see things differently. To them, singledom is something to avoid at all cost, no matter how many times you tell them you love your life the way it is. The limit does not exist when it comes to telling Aunt Carol you still don’t want to be set up with her neighbor’s ex-stepson.

Now, Melissa Croce gives you the tips, tricks, and sage advice you need to graciously endure all of the cringe-worthy scenarios your single self may dread, from awkward small talk with an ex to navigating well-meaning but insensitive relatives. And it helps you truly flourish in your singledom, offering activities like quizzes aimed at helping you find a new hobby and tarot spreads for that cozy Saturday night in. Part real-world guide, part commiseration, and part celebration, Single and Forced to Mingle will steer you through the ups and downs of being single, reminding you just how good it feels to be free.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of February

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 26, 2021

Author Picks: 6 Memoirs That Stuck with Me Long after the Last Page

By Charlie Gilmour | February 25, 2021

Our 16 Most Anticipated New Reads of March

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 24, 2021

Longing to Travel? Explore France with These 9 Magnifique Reads

By Alice Martin | February 23, 2021

10 Heartwarming Reads That’ll Melt the Winter Cold Away

By Sara Roncero-Menendez | February 22, 2021

A Profound Historical Novel about Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival

By Holly Claytor | February 19, 2021

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