• Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed

  • Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids
  • By: Meghan Daum
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller, Jo Anna Perrin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (157 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 listeners say about Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed

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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?

20 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

4 people found this 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 people found this 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.

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annoying and unhelpful

the part when that british lady asked all of her friends if they felt like they were "letting white people die out" by not having kids was when i stopped listening lmaooo wtf

2 people found this helpful

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Pretty good read, I wish it included larger diversity in the experiences narrated by the writers.

I did not read the whole thing because all the writers (up until I stopped reading) did not resemble my situation and I could not relate to their worries or thoughts. I will definitely recommend this book for my wife but I, as a straight man, did not relate much to the writers. Maybe this is a book aimed to women but the title did not express that. I wish it talked more about how to live with the choices you’ve made and perhaps what the future has in store for you based on the experiences of others.

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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Horrible narration

I enjoyed many of the chapters of this book, and purchased it knowing that I am a fan of some of the writers who are featured. However, the primary narrator’s voice is so shrill that I could barely stand listening to her chapters.

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Great, but needed more voices

This was a wonderful audio version of a wonderful book. My only complaint is that only two narrators did the whole thing; good as they were, for the audiobook to be most effective, more voices were needed.

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Resonated with me

As someone who always thought I would be a mother, I am surprised to find myself not one after age 35. Like so many things in our culture, the decision to have children or not may seem very black and white, but the essays in this book complicate that image. It was reassuring to hear that I’m not the only person who stumbled into the choice not to be a parent; and to hear a lot of the same reasons why. I don’t know anyone else who has had this experience and it made me feel less alone. I highly recommend to anyone who stumbled into a child free life, and particularly those who are ambivalent about it.

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