2019 · Read · Review

Review – Selfish, Shallow and Self-absorbed by Megan Daum

This was my anthology pick for 2018 ReadHarder challenge. I picked this one because I personally don’t want children and I wanted something different than what others were saying they would read. Also, this book is yellow.

Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed

edited by Megan Daum


Synopsis by GoodReads

Sixteen Literary Luminaries On The Controversial Subject Of Being Childless By Choice, Collected In One Fascinating Anthology

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.

My Opinion

3 stars


several opinions

several good points made

diverse points of view


This anthology focuses a lot on authors background and childhood and why their parents shouldn’t have had kids. But it also focuses on the historical view of children and their importance. It puts today’s view in perspective.

The first few stories were really good and fresh with a lot of new fact and points. As the book progressed I felt these stories became quite similar. I’m not sure how much there is to talk about when it comes to not wanting children but I was hoping for more. Then at the last 3rd of the book, it came back with fresh views and new points of views.

The Essais

Babes in the Wood 4⭐️

An antie’s view on her brother’s adoption of a baby girl when she does not want kids and her brother didn’t want kids originally either. M/M relationship in which the author is the aunt and loves her niece but doesn’t want her own. She shares some very interesting points and views from history and modern day.

Maternal Instincts 5⭐️

A scientific account of the lack of scientific backing to “maternal instinct”. Also takes into consideration the historical facts and views on children throughout history and concludes that loving one’s children unconditionally and having a bond with your infant is a luxury and only occurs in modern day. Also, take into account the change in women and our education vs the birth rates.

A Thousand Other Things 4⭐️

An interesting biographical account of when mental health and an ageing body on hormones mix into an unhealthy cocktail.

The New Rhoda 3⭐️

A gay guy argues why he doesn’t want kids and discuss how and why his gay friends have kids and whether they did it just to please their parents.

Be Here Now Means Be Gone Later 4⭐️

The author of “We Need To Talk About Kevin” exhibits the replies she got from anti moms and bad mums after publication. She then goes into the nonfiction and scientific backing to lack of children in the world. Before providing evidence of the Be Here Now happiness trend.

The Most Important Things 3⭐️

An exploration of women, writing as a career and having children. The author drags in other famous author examples and concludes that she is glad she didn’t have kids but focused on her writing.

Mommy Fearest 2.5 ⭐️

An account of a childhood searching for meaning and not finding motherhood of any interest. The author also explores how women who say that they have issues connecting with their newborn or just want some time to themselves get labelled as “bad moms”.

Amateurs 3.5⭐️

A review of a childhood without much love and affection which progressed into an adult life without the emotional need for children. The author reflects on how these two are connected.

Save Yourself 3⭐️

A recount of a difficult childhood that ended with a loving adult who focuses on loving themselves. The author explores why she doesn’t want to have children and let out her frustrations over stranges not understanding her decision.

The Trouble With Having It All 4⭐️

The authors exploration of her writing life and travels without children and why she took that necessary step of being childless to enjoy the life she wanted. The author is now a stepparent and enjoys it.

Beyond Beyond Motherhood 4.5⭐️

An author in her 60s is reviewing her previous articles on childlessness and their feedback. She is also referring back to her previous decision of not having children and concludes she does not regret it nor has any worries about getting old without children.

Over And Out 4.5⭐️

A male author reflects on the lack of worries over not having children. He refreshingly writes about his complete and utter respect for the fact that life might not have a meaning. Once that is established, one does not feel left out or feel like one should do something just because its what society tells you to do.

You’d Be Such A Good Mother, If Only You Weren’t You 4⭐️

A female author explores her own body trying to tell her not to have children when her partner does.

The Hardest Art 4⭐️

The author tried a sperm donor late in life and explores all the thoughts going through her head at the time. When the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage she was sad but firm about not trying that again. Children were not for her.

Just An Aunt 4⭐️

As the titles suggest, the author is happy and relieved to only be an aunt and explains why.

The End Of The Line 5⭐️

A factual approach to explain childlessness with philosophical thoughts and real-life examples.


Yes some stories are LGBT+


It seems I enjoyed the factual essays more than the life stories. Overall, it was enjoyable but at times tedious and repetitive read. I had a very slow reading pace which annoyed me too, but at the same time I learned something and got a few new good arguments for future discussions.

I also struggled to read it as I was on a deadline and the book is a slow pace non-fiction book. I’ve learned now that I should not force myself to finish a book like this. I Think I would have given it a higher rating if I had had time to enjoy it more.

I had also expected more views and opinions on the meaning of life if it’s not the biological one of having children, but it was lacking from this anthology. I feel this was a wasted opportunity.

Whilst reading this book I have on several accounts questioned my feeling for not wanting children. This book made me explore that decision and brought new light over it. It made me think. On completion of this book, I settled down with the thought that I will not have children and I would not feel regret. My thoughts are calm.

Have you read this? What did you think?


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