Review: Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have KidsTitle: Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids
Authors: Meghan Daum, Kate Christensen, Tim Kreider, Paul Lisicky, M.G. Lord, Rosemary Mahoney, Sigrid Nunez, Jeanne Safer, Lionel Shriver, Geoff Dyer, Danielle Henderson, Courtney Hodell, Anna Holmes, Elliott Holt, Pam Houston, Michelle Huneven, Laura Kipnis
Publication Date: 1 April 2015
ISBN: 1250052939
Pages: 288
Genre: Nonfiction anthology
Format: Hardcover
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon|Book Depository

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 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, sixteen acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew parenthood. Contributors Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christiensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, offer a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood.

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed makes a thoughtful and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path in life, taking our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. What emerges is a more nuanced, diverse view of what it means to live a full, satisfying life.


Children. My personal favorite demographic of people. I could spend hours with them, they’re so fun! But ask me to have my own, and my answer will be a resounding “no!” Have any of you ever been asked if you want to have kids, answered no, and been told: “You’re young, you’ll change your mind when you get older”?

Frustrating, right?

Well this anthology covers that and so many more stories of people who have no desire for children.

The beautiful thing about this collection of essays? It wasn’t only a collection of female writers, male voices were heard. The various perspectives included were enlightening as were the various ways in which each writers came to their own conclusions about not wanting to have children.

Unfortunately, this anthology wasn’t one of my favorites. None of these essays were particularly captivating and all of them had a somewhat clinical feeling. More importantly, they were placed in an order that didn’t really flow. It was a pretty jarring read. I don’t think I could recommend this if you’re going to try and finish it in one sitting. You should probably read one essay a day or every couple of hours.

Overall, the essays did showcase a variety of reasons for not having kids. Although the essays weren’t particularly fascinating, they were thought provoking. Just not a read I would recommend for everyone. However, if you’re interested in understanding why someone may not have the desire to have children, you should read this book.


2.5 star


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