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Tip of the week: The Lonely City

Every Friday one of our Spring House members will share with us a tip: a favourite movie, a must-read article, an event we cannot miss this weekend or just some general life advice. Here’s this week's tip! 


I am Antonia Weiss, a Spring House member and architect. I am in the process of starting my PhD research which looks at the history of urban nature in Berlin and Amsterdam, and specifically its role in the lives of women. Because of my research much of my life circles around books these days - which is lucky because I do like books.

I thought I’d share a tip about a book (not related to my research) which has made a lasting impression on me. The book falls into the category of creative non-fiction, which is basically the kind of book that you can read with one toe in a pool or beach sand in your eyes, with the added benefit of also having something interesting to share with your fellow vacationers during dinner.

The book is by the British author and critic Olivia Laing and is called ‘Lonely City’. After the abrupt end of a relationship, Laing found herself unexpectedly alone in New York City. Triggered by her own intense experience of loneliness, she spent the next year researching how New York artists had dealt with and given form to this emotion through their work.
Laing shows how the unique patterns of loneliness resonate through the experiences of people from different times and contexts as she traces the connections between her own life and those of her subjects.

Part memoir, part art criticism, her book offers a completely different way of looking at works of art and their makers, including famous figures such as Andy Warhol and the lesser known artist and Aids activist David Wojnarowicz. Loneliness is not something people like to dwell on in the age of social media (and co-working spaces) but it’s a worthwhile excursion.