Netta Weinstein, Heather Hansen (NASW member), and Thuy-vy Nguyen—Solitude: The Science and Power of Being Alone

Cover of the book Solitude: The Science and Power of Being Alone by Netta Weinstein, Heather Hansen (NASW member), and Thuy-vy Nguyen, with the title in shimmering gold and names of the authors in white print on a purple background embellished by images of golden leaves suggesting solitude as a fertile ground for growth.


Netta Weinstein, Heather Hansen (NASW member), and Thuy-vy Nguyen
Cambridge University Press, April 18, 2024
Hardcover: $25.95, eBook: $19.49, audio book: $17.49, audio CD: $43.51
ISBN-10: 1009256602, ISBN-13: 978-1009256605
Audiobook ASIN: B0CZSD1BQW

Hansen reports:

In early 2020, just before the pandemic hit, I started doing research on solitude alongside a prominent UK social scientist, Netta Weinstein. She enlisted my help as a journalist to interview people around the world about their experiences in solitude. At the time, I was grieving the death of my mother and time alone was both blessing and curse and I was eager to examine its shifting role in my own life.

We didn’t intend to study solitude during a time of huge upheaval but the pandemic turned out to be an important moment to collect data on spending time alone (or not!), depending on what situation we found ourselves in during social restrictions. Isolation and loneliness often topped the news even before the pandemic but experiences of positive solitude were largely ignored.

Portrait photo of Heather Hansen

Heather Hansen

Over two years, we heard from our research subjects that they continued to reap various benefits from spending time alone. With input from thousands of people aged 18 to 80, we began to think and write about solitude in new ways, particularly as everyday events we can use to boost overall well-being. The research led to some exciting and surprising findings we were eager to share with a wider audience and we (Weinstein, Nguyen, a leading researcher in studying solitude in laboratory experiments, and I) co-authored several journal articles.

Being on the leading edge of research into positive solitude put us in a good position to approach publishers. The proposal went through several iterations. Later drafts included first-person reflections on our own experiences with solitude. After submitting the proposal to a handful of publishers, we got several offers. Ultimately, we choose Cambridge University Press’ relatively new trade division because it combines a 490-year history of publishing smart books with a proven push to reach a general readership.

This is my fifth book and the second I co-authored so there isn’t much I didn’t know about the process. That said, there are unique challenges to working with co-authors. If I had it to do differently, I’d identify our individual strengths earlier and leverage those better from the beginning.

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Banner image adapted from original photo by Heather Hansen.

Advance Copy

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