Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed:
Sixteen Writers On The Decision Not To Have Kids



ReviewS and Interviews


Meghan interviewed for Jezebel

Meghan talks to John Hockenberry on PRI's The Takeaway



Advance Praise


"To her illustrious list of literary accomplishments, Meghan Daum must now add brilliant anthology editor.  In this thoughtful, hilarious, gorgeously-written collection of original essays by anything-but-the-usual-suspects, Daum has taken a taboo subject and turned it inside out so that we see the seams, the stitching, and the bloody guts of one of the most personal and complex decisions any of us can ever make.  This is a wonderful book.” — Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing and Devotion

"I've never needed approval for my decision to go childless through this world, but there've been times when I wanted company, a sounding board, a friend who wouldn't take the wrong way my desire to be occasionally ecstatic about not having babies and all the opportunities it affords me. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed is all that and more. It's sweet, heartfelt...utterly (and by design) the opposite of its title. It's a triumph of honesty and sincerity. I imagine returning again and again to its many smart and caring voices." — Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion and The Fates Will Find Their Way

"A taboo will linger until someone writes lyrically enough to destroy it. Here, sixteen writers finally say what women are never supposed to but what we all know is true: pregnancy seems terrifying, birth even more so, baby lust passes, and, just as with men, work, creativity, and love affairs can crowd out everything else. Also, who really cares about getting a Mother’s Day card? My three children are of course perfect in every way and yet, the longer I am a mother, the more it’s obvious to me that it’s not for everyone. Any woman who shares that instinct: Ignore your grandmother. Read this instead." — Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women

"Put aside your moralistic assumptions . The sixteen probing personal essays collected here  show how deeply individual– and varied, and rich, and colorful  – are the paths by which  people arrive at the decision to not have children.  This has to be one of the best of the many anthologies about women’s (and men’s) life stages – there’s a lot at stake here for the writers, and for readers as well." — Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights

A New York Times Bestseller!


Today 19 percent of American women reach their mid-40s without ever having a child — a figure that has nearly doubled in four decades, a truly staggering statistic . . . The mystery of whether this wish is a personal urge, a biological imperative or the unconscious internalization of an inescapable cultural expectation haunts “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids,” an anthology of personal essays edited by Meghan Daum Anthologies aren’t famous for changing attitudes en masse, but at the very least this one gives voice to the complexities of assuming and enjoying a “child-free” life. — Kate Bolick, The New York Times 

“[The book’s] editor, Meghan Daum, has gathered together a group of people who are refreshingly clearheaded….No hand-wringing here. It’s the tone of voice dominating the entire anthology that is so exhilarating: thoughtful, unconflicted, unapologetic. Talk about the light at the end of the tunnel….The women in Daum’s anthology are exciting and admirable…[they’re] a significant, world-changing minority.”—Vivian Gornick, Bookforum

First off, a round of applause to Meghan Daum for putting this book together . . . The artificially limited discourse around parenthood, and the implicit diminishment of those who choose not to procreate, is an idol in urgent need of being smashed. “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed” gives it a good, hard push .—The Boston Globe 

As a compilation of writing, Shallow, Selfish, and Self-Absorbed is generally very strong, bringing together a diverse range of voices and styles to riff entertainingly on a subject that has seemed, up until now, unriffable. But as a collection of manifestos, it’s hugely significant. — The Atlantic

With welcome, sometimes breathtaking candor, the writers (3 men and 13 women) debunk the idea that the childless by choice are homogenous."—The Globe and Mail

"None of the 16 essays in this absorbing collection reflect particularly selfish or shallow motivations for childlessness. . . . Some entries are heart-wrenching . . . while others are downright hilarious." — Publisher's Weekly


Kate Christensen ・ Geoff Dyer ・ Danielle Henderson ・ Courtney Hodell ・ Anna Holmes ・ Elliott Holt ・ Pam Houston ・ Michelle Huneven ・ Laura Kipnis ・ Tim Kreider ・ Paul Lisicky ・ M.G. Lord ・ Rosemary Mahoney ・ Sigrid Nunez ・ Jeanne Safer ・ Lionel Shriver