Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Her other books include the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a memoir.
Meghan’s work has been included in The Best American Essays and she has written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, and Vogue. In the spring of 2017, Meghan was the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Nonfiction MFA Program at the University of Iowa.
Meghan is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She is on the adjunct faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts.
Meghan Daum was an op-ed columnist for The Los Angeles Times from 2005 to 2016 and is the author of four books, most recently The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (FSG 2014), which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestselling anthology Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers On the Decision Not to Have Kids (Picador 2015.) From 2016 to 2018 she wrote the Egos column in The New York Times Book Review, covering new memoirs.
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion is a series of original essays looking at sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life. The essays take on serious subjects, such as the death of a parent, the decision not to have a child, and Meghan's own near death from a freak illness, as well as lighter topics like the love of dogs, the proper appreciation of Joni Mitchell, the tedium of foodie culture, the definition of "romance" and much more. Widely praised by critics, The Unspeakable was named a “best of 2014” book by Slate, Entertainment Weekly and The Huffington Post. In The New York Times Book Review, Wild author Cheryl Strayed called it “thrillingly good” and named it the best book she read in 2014.
Deemed “hugely significant” by The Atlantic, Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed attracted enormous media and public interest and sparked a national conversation among parents and non-parents alike. Meghan’s basic message, that opting out of parenthood is not a function of laziness or immaturity but, rather, a complicated, intensely personal decision that actually honors good parenting, was explored in essays from celebrated writers like Lionel Shriver, Geoff Dyer, Pam Houston, Sigrid Nunez, and Kate Christensen, among others.
Meghan’s other books include Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House (Knopf 2010), a personal chronicle of real estate addiction and obsessive fascination with houses, the novel The Quality of Life Report (Viking 2003) and the essay collection My Misspent Youth (Open City 2001), which will be reissued by Picador in November 2015. Her work has been included in The Best American Essays and she has contributed to public radio's Morning Edition, Marketplace and This American Life and has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Harper's, GQ, Elle, and Vogue. Her work is also included in dozens of college textbooks and anthologies, including Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, The KGB Bar Reader, Sex and Sensibility, Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit and The New Gilded Age: The New Yorker Looks at the Culture of Affluence among many others.
Born in California in 1970, Meghan was raised primarily on the east coast and is a graduate of Vassar College and the MFA writing program at Columbia University's School of the Arts. She spent several years in New York City before making her now-infamous move to Nebraska in 1999, where she continued to work as an essayist and journalist and wrote The Quality of Life Report while living out her longtime fantasy of literally residing in a little house on the prairie. In 2003, she moved to Los Angeles, where she has hosted and moderated numerous interviews and panels for public event series such as Zócalo Public Square, the LA Public Library's ALOUD program, and Live Talks L.A.
Meghan is a member of the adjunct faculty in the MFA writing division at Columbia University's School of the Arts and has taught at the California Institute for the Arts and numerous conferences and literary festivals, including the Aspen Writers' Festival, the Lighthouse Writers' Literary Festival, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, and the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference. In the spring of 2017 she served as the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Nonfiction MFA Program at the University of Iowa. She has been a mentor in PEN USA's Emerging Voices Program and also volunteers as a foster child advocate for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles County.
She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim fellowship in general nonfiction and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing.