Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids

One of the main topics of cultural conversation during the last decade was the supposed “fertility crisis,” and whether modern women could figure out a way to way to have it all-a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children-before their biological clock stopped ticking. Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it’s necessary to have it all (see Anne-Marie Slaughter) or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.

In this provocative and controversial collection of essays, curated by writer Meghan Daum, thirteen acclaimed female writers explain why they have chosen to eschew motherhood. Contributors include Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, who will give a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood.

This collection makes a smart and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path to a happy, productive life, and takes our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. In this book, that shadowy faction known as the childless-by-choice comes out into the light.

For readers of Brigid Schulte and Debora Spar

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we’ll navigate the path to publishing success.

3 Comments

  1. “It’s about time we stop mistaking self-knowledge for self-absorption….” Childlessness is not pitiful, disgraceful, or unnatural. This is the fundamental point in “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed,” edited and with an introduction by Meghan Daum. The majority of the essays that appear in this collection are articulate and eloquent. Most of us are familiar with the stereotype of affluent and carefree adults who have decided not to reproduce. They have fulfilling jobs, travel wherever and whenever they please, take part in a host of recreational activities, and…

  2. … realize they do not want to be parents They love their lives the freedom some realize they would not … Completely honest& raw brave book written by people who realize they do not want to be parents They love their lives the freedom some realize they would not have the patience to be caretakers of little ones.Each essay is brave&eyeopening a long over due conversation.

  3. Thoughtful & diverse essays show the complexity of nonparenthood Meghan Daum set out to capture the diverse mentalities of men and women who choose not to have children in this anthology of essays. She writers in her Introduction: “I wanted to show that there are just as many ways of being a nonparent as there are of being a parent. You can do it lazily and self-servingly or you can do it generously and imaginatively.” 

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