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Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed

Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids
Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
4 out of 5 stars (99 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 have it all - a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children - before their biological clocks 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, 16 acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew parenthood. Contributors include Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christiensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, who will give 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.

©2015 Meghan Daum (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[This book] infuses every single thing we do and are." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • S
  • 06-20-18

Could Not Stop Listening

This is a fantastic audiobook! Each of the stories selected is truly unique and I loved both of the narrators. The combination of these writer's experiences and decisions were truly well put together-there is something for every listener to learn from.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

Great perspectives for anyone - including those with children. I don't have kids and it was lovely to hear the rationale behind other people's decisions. I came to my 'no children' decision from other circumstances, but yet wholeheartedly identify with these thoughtful women who came similar decisions after significant reflection. Great book all around.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Am I the only sane childfree woman in here?

As a 42 year-old childfree woman, I thought I'd listen to people like me and maybe learn a few tricks on how to cope with judgement from society. After a while, it became obvious that almost all of these authors have had a sad childhood, have been abused, beaten or had a crazy mother. They all spent years in therapy, some of them have been diagnosed with severe depression or other mental illness. I thought it was a book about normal, childfree people who happened to be authors. Instead, it's a book about mentally sick and unstable writers who happen to be childfree and talk endlessly about their mental state. I finished the book thinking that never having suffered myself from depression, it makes me really, really weird. Is being sane and childfree normal?

12 of 20 people found this review helpful

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challenging to hear the different voices

didn't love the narrator, and felt it hard to hear the voices of different writers when read by the same person. wish i had read the book instead of listened to it.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Haley
  • Dahlonega, GA, United States
  • 02-27-19

Not Great for Audio

I overall enjoyed the idea behind this book, being childless myself. There were some different viewpoints, though a few sounded like pretty much the same story over again.

My problem with this in audio format was twofold. 1 - Though there were 16 writers, there were only 2 narrators, and (personal preference) I did not love either of them. O ly having two narrators was an issue because 2 - The chapters were not labeled with their title, which seems like it would include the author. That would have been helpful because when I heard about another woman who has similar struggles to the last 3 women, I couldn't always tell which story I was on. In my mind they just became woman of Chapter 10. That didn't actually help so when many women with a similar stories were being told by the same voice, I ended up getting many of the stories mixed up in my head.

I have been listening to audiobooks for years, to be fair, never a collection of essays about real life stories, and I never have issues keeping facts straight or following storyline. I think this is probably a great read in paper or ebook, but due of the lack of properly titled chapters, and only 2 narrators, it isn't a very fun audiobook.

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Ok, I get it

While this is an excellent subject for exploration, by the time the ninth story begins to play, the listener realizes that 16 writers is too many by about half. Writers who have chosen not to have children may not be selfish, but they certainly are sanctimonious. This may have been better to read than to hear as an audiobook. Lionel Shriver’s essay is the best of the collection.

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Thinking outside the box!

intelligent, philosophical and funny! I loved how the childfree perspective was introduced from a diverse angles. This book got quickly addictive for me. My first audio book and absolutely loved it! Thank you for such a wonderful piece!

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  • bp
  • 03-28-18

A nice collection of essays

I appreciate how these authors publicly explored a very private question. All very different takes on the issue, each gave a personal perspective that was well articulated.

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Missed the mark, in my opinion

One of the writers chose not to have children based on a childhood pact she made with her brother, then she was disappointed when he chose to have a child as an adult. Really? This book is wildly disappointing. I understand that we all have our reasons, but it was hard for me to connect with any of the authors. My advice is to save your money and spend it on something more worthwhile.

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Finally, out of the closet!

This is a must-read for anyone that thinks they might not want children or even those, like me, who have had one but still hold firm that they are not 'parent material'. You are not selfish and shallow, and you are not alone!