If you’re on the introverted side – if, like me, you enjoy quiet libraries better than crowded parties, and have shied away from free hugs – it must have happened to you that others have not really understood why. If you’ve turned down a dinner invitation because you preferred an evening at home, you must have been criticized as antisocial. I’m probably not an extreme loner, but my inborn temperament is way out there; it is only thanks to a good degree of conditioning and practice that my behavior – I’ve been told – might even, on occasion, seem that of an extrovert.
That’s why I have immensely enjoyed reading Anneli Rufus’s Party of One, a book that (1) confirms that there are others like us out there, (2) makes it clear that such preferences are largely imprinted in our genes, and (3) argues passionately that a loner is just a loner – not necessarily a sociopath, a pervert, or a serial killer, as lazy media and inaccurate police profiling would have us believe. If you have someone who loves you but doesn’t understand you, give them this book.
Author Anneli Rufus, a loner herself, will take them on a rather exhilarating ride through popular culture, movies, advertising, friendship, love and sex, art, literature, religion, sanity, crime, fashion, travel, childhood and more. The lightest chapter is the one on technology, which does not probe all that deeply in the impact that the Web has had in opening up lifestyle choices for loners (hey, I suspect even the gregarious Tim Ferriss might be a loner, deep down), but gets one thing absolutely right: “The Internet is, for loners, an absolute and total miracle”.
I read the book while sunbathing on a crowded beach. My body was displayed for all to see, but I wasn’t there. I was hiding behind big dark sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Thanks to noise-canceling Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones, which I discovered thanks to my colleague Paolo, I didn’t hear any of the ambient noise. And I was listening to the moody songs of Jason Molina, which my friend Claudio first recommended to me. I was a loner on a beach. It was a perfect day.