Every once in a while I read a newspaper article that is so wide-ranging, so extensively researched, so well-written, and focused on such a timely and significant topic that I wonder why the reporter did not write a book instead. That happened just a few hours ago when I read Natalie Angier’s essay for a special edition of the Science Times (in the New York Times), titled simply, “Families.” (Angier has, in fact, authored previous books, including Woman: An Intimate Geography.)

In “Families,” Angier introduces us to people living in contemporary versions of American families, including gay men raising children, blended families, immigrant families, families in which a parent is in jail, families of friends, and more. Along the way, she offers a brief history of the evolution of American family life.

There is a lot to the article so here I just want to mention a few of the points that interested me most, then send you off to find your own favorite things. (Full disclosure: I’m quoted in the article. I will, though, refrain from listing what I said as one of my favorite points.)

7 of My Favorite Points from “Families

#1 In the Colonia era, “adults who tried to live alone, particularly single men, were viewed with suspicion, advised to marry, find room and board with a ‘decent’ family or get out of town…As recently as the 1950s…unattached adults could arouse community ire.”

#2 “As the population shifted westward and the distances between dwellings opened, Americans grew accustomed to a degree of privacy and personal space that few other earthlings could share.”

#3 One of the significant trends in family life: “Good friends join forces as part of the ‘voluntary kin’ movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.”

#4 Remember what you heard about all those unwed teenage moms? Forget it: “…the birthrate among adolescent girls has dropped by nearly half since 1991 and last year hit an all-time low.”

#5 Americans “marry, divorce and remarry at rates not seen anywhere else in the developed world.”

#6 About the divorce rate: For a long time it increased steadily; then it leveled off at the 50% mark that became so infamous. Recently, the rate has been on the decline – with one big exception: “Among baby boomers, the rate of marriage failure has surged 50 percent in the past 20 years.”

#7Which families are the most stable?: “…those headed by gay men who’d had their children together.”

Recent Posts in Living Single

10 Awkward Moments, and 6 Ways to Escape Them

New research shows when things get most awkward, and the best paths to relief.

Is a Solitary Life a Shorter Life? Results of Big New Review

Many choose to live alone; no one chooses to be lonely.

The Arse-Backwards Way of Helping Kids

My op-ed in the Guardian on children of single and cohabiting mothers

23 Quips for Marriage Skeptics and Lovers of Single Life

Humorists, intellectuals, celebrities and queens all savor singlehood

Finding "The One" Is Overrated: Emotionships Matter More

Happiness is: Different folks for different emotional strokes

Can You Trust Married People to Keep a Secret?

What's behind 'total we-ness,' and how it impacts friendships.