Book Review + Giveaway | Spinster by Kate Bolick

Spinster Kate Bolick Book Review Cover One More Page

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the book.]

When you think of the word “spinster,” what comes to mind? In modern language, “spinster” often conjures images of sad women who live alone with perhaps one or more cats. Generally, “spinster” evokes the thought that these women have been unable to find partners. But what about those who willingly choose to be alone? Why is “spinster” associated with “failure?” Why are single men allowed to be called “bachelors.” while single women are labeled “cat ladies?” In Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick attempts to reclaim the term, spinning it into an empowering expression that celebrates female independence and self-reliance.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, in which Bolick shares her personal experience with having the “spinster wish” to be alone and self-sufficient. She also shares her research on her five “awakeners,” Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edith Wharton, who proved to her that women can dare to make a life of their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As someone who is currently in a relationship, I went into the book a little nervous that Bolick would be pro-singledom and anti-coupledom. Luckily, that couldn’t have been farther than the truth. Bolick is not arguing for one relationship status or the other; what she really wants is to move past the idea that women are meant to be wives or nothing, and help society realize that women can fully rely on themselves, whether they’re in a relationship or not. It’s an encouraging yet realistic text, written from a place of personal experience and research. Bolick doesn’t claim that being a spinster is always easy, but she does make it clear how rewarding it can be.

Bolick’s five “awakeners” are all female writers, spanning mulitple generations. As such, this book does contain quite a bit of literary biography, which greatly appealed to me as a self-proclaimed literature nerd. This is a non-fiction book that reads like a story, making it perfect for a new-to-nonfiction reader like myself.

Whether you’re coupled or single, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own is an enlightening read that hopes to take the power back from the patriarchy and urge women to pursue their dreams and passions, whether that means being married or not. There are options for women outside of marriage, and Spinster works to remind us all of that while being respectful of everyone’s choices.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to meet Kate Bolick in Toronto and, thanks to Random House Canada, I have a signed copy of this thought-provoking book to give away to one Canadian reader!


1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada only.
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again (unless I can tell by their other accounts that they will actually read the book). I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!

Have you read Spinster? What does the term “spinster” mean to you? Would you consider yourself a “spinster sister?”

10 thoughts on “Book Review + Giveaway | Spinster by Kate Bolick

  1. citygirlscapes says:

    I’ve seen this book popping up around and it definitely caught my eye. I’m also in a relationship, but I still consider myself a spinster, or at least relate to the term. I’m glad someone is trying to reclaim it and spin it in a more positive light. – ashley

  2. Jennifer Kerr says:

    Spinster means an antiquated phrase from Victorian England- I see no reason to describe any women in modern society using this term.

  3. Kate Sykes says:

    I’ve been hearing so much about this book but didn’t pay much attention until I discovered it’s mainly comprised of literary biography (which I almost always love). I’m especially interested in the chapters on Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edith Wharton… they’re such great writers.

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway, Karen—I really hope I win! 😉

    • Kaitlyn Sykes says:

      As to what spinster means to me… I couldn’t resist looking it up on my computer’s dictionary first: “This type of use survives today only in some legal and religious contexts. In modern everyday English, however, spinster cannot be used to mean simply ‘unmarried woman’; as such, it is a derogatory term, referring or alluding to a stereotype of an older woman who is unmarried, childless, prissy, and repressed.” This isn’t what spinster means to me at all. I’ve always seen spinsters as independent ladies who do what they want and are a force of nature (“old maid” is what I associate with my dictionary’s definition). For better or for worse I think I’d be okay with being called a spinster. 🙂

  4. dfbookbond says:

    This is definitely on my ‘to read’ list. As a woman who loves her independence and also loves history and the history of words, I’d love to see how Kate Bolick newly defines this antique term!

  5. Amber says:

    I honestly hadn’t heard of this book before I saw it on your many social media platforms, but I think I’d love it. ‘Spinster’ is usually used as a derogatory term for a woman who is alone (unmarried, no kids, etc.), and I also heavily associate it (thanks to stereotypes) with a lot of cats. However, I think this book could be instrumental in changing that, judging on your review! I’d like to think of that word in a positive way, as I’m sure I’ll probably end up one someday. 😉

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