Book review: Honjok – The Art of Living Alone by Francie Healey and Crystal Tai

Reviewed by Helen Carmichael

Honjok: The Art of Living Alone, by Francie Healey and Crystal Tai

The title of this excellent book is a Korean word for ‘tribe of one’. Taking the concept of Honjok which ‘invites us to consider who we are outside our established and cultural norms,’ it thoughtfully examines positive aspects and possibilities of living alone.

There are significant numbers of people now living alone either by choice or circumstance. Whilst South Korea has its own cultural and historic reasons for this, we can see the trend reflected across the globe. Sweden for example, had 39.2% of its population living solo in 2017 and the number is rising. A desire to explore what this means and to do it well, is undoubtedly a timely and invaluable tool for us all.

The book invites us in with colourful design, illustrations and lots of quotes from famous people who value or have valued solitude in their lives. I found it really helpful to read the clear explanations for ideas around living alone that become confused (often by people who don’t live alone)! such as the difference between loneliness and being alone, or being a loner as opposed to ‘honjok.’ It gives practical advice on how we can build a deeply caring relationship with ourselves, to include self-worth and self-awareness through curiosity, creativity and adventure.

Francie Healey suggests the emergence of a new tribal connection – one brought about by celebrating solitude rather than fearing it, thereby connecting us with like-minded people. So, if you are currently living alone, about to begin a solo adventure or simply curious to know more, this book will inspire you with ideas and confidence!

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