The Fullest Book Club: How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t

Pull up Lane Moore’s Wiki page and it reads like a “Best Of” of everything: Best Twitter Account, One of the Funniest People to Watch, Best of Brooklyn, One of 16 Female-Fronted Bands You Should Know, One of OUT Magazine’s Top OUT100, etc. In the last few months alone she has topped a plethora of Best Books lists with her debut memoir, How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t.

Someone might think that all this success would make a person feel like they were on top of the world, but the irony is right there in the name — Lane is far from seeking it all.

When I first saw the book, I was immediately grabbed by the title. As someone who spends a lot of time alone, and even tends to feels alone when she’s not alone, I mistook it for a ‘How to’ guide that would help me learn how to not feel so by myself. Instead, I found a kindred spirit who was sharing her personal struggles with feelings of aloneness and outsider-ness in a way that I immediately felt comforted by. Every time she described something that sparked a memory in me, I added a Post-it, until my book became littered with tiny pink tabs.  

Not fitting in with her family. Not fitting in with her peers. Bad glasses, the wrong clothes, envisioning her imaginary perfect soulmate who would come and take her away from all this… it was as if someone had looked into my head and drawn from my own experiences.

When Moore writes, “I absolutely see my life as a movie/TV show, and always have,” I totally relate. When she admits that every first date contained the possibility of forever, I feel the same. And when I got to a chapter called “All this Pain Must Be Worth It Because You’re Supposed to Be My Soulmate,” I full on cried.

Perhaps this is all basic and our struggles are not really the same — I, for one, never had to live in my car or a drug den (though I did have one roommate who did heroin and stole all my clothes). But I have never read a book that touched the very primal nerve of being able to feel anything where love and acceptance should be, and to know what that looks like on the outside.

Moore works her ass off. Along with her writing gigs — of which there are many outside this book — she fronts a band, tours with a one-woman show, and maintains her social media presence daily (in which she shares parts of herself that are deeply raw and honest, with a touch of the same humor we see in the book).

I first connected with her via Instagram when she re-posted a post I had made about her book. Way back then, in December, she was easy to reach. Now she has to be a bit more guarded. I asked her why she disabled her comments and DM and she replied “I get hundreds of messages a day now, which is lovely, and I try to go through them all, but getting 10 ‘LOL’ message replies to a story was just another set of items I felt compelled to read through — and it was giving me severe anxiety.”

At the end of the day this is not a ‘My Life was Shit and Now It’s Perfect’’ memoire. There are many achievements paired with much pain, and a constant struggle with both the world outside her, as well as within.

I asked if she thought this was why the book was resonating with so many people right now.

“It’s tough to know. Some people really love the bullshit story of ‘I Was in Pain Once for 20 Minutes and Now I’m Healed.’ But I hate that narrative because it’s not reality,” she responds. “So I intentionally wrote my book as not that… because life isn’t like that.”

And it’s true. It isn’t. When I told Lane how much I appreciated knowing that I wasn’t the only person who feels this way, she thanked me effusively: “Writing this book almost killed me many, many times — and that’s not an exaggeration. One of the things that kept me going was the very idea that people like you would read it and think, ‘I’ve never seen myself reflected before and I finally am… and I feel better.’

And you know, I really do.

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