I loved how 16 writers stake claim in minority position

I’m not sure people with children would find Meghan Daum’s book as absorbing as I did, and it’s too bad, really, because it’s quite deep and thought-provoking.

Selfish Shallow and Self AbsorbedSelfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids is very well-rounded since it provides the perspectives of 16 different people who chose not to have children (they’re all writers, of course, but isn’t it good to leave books about childlessness to writers?). There’s the funny one, the angry one, the woman who had a terrible mother, the woman who thought she’d make a terrible mother, the gay perspective, the story of the woman who actually tried and failed to procreate and the one who calls “maternal instinct” a modern invention (!). Plus nine more. And a well-summarized introduction by Daum. It fulfills “A book with a number in the title” on my 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge.

For someone who thinks she’s covered every argument for having and not having kids like a religious woman who’s handled her prayer beads until they were worn away, even I had all kinds of a-ha moments reading this anthology.

The childless are a unique bunch, I guess, but I never really considered how unique (and diverse and thoughtful) we are. Most people do have children. And most people don’t think about it at all (certainly many think about with whom and when but they don’t necessary think about if they should or shouldn’t, if they want to or not).

The book makes a compelling argument that the childless are not selfish, shallow and self-absorbed like some people may believe (and I emphasize some because most people who ever discussed it with me are not so judgmental — at least to my face). I think people who choose not to have children would like this book, as would writers and anyone interested in sociology. But I think people with children might like it, too.

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2 responses to “I loved how 16 writers stake claim in minority position

  1. I think this sounds like a great book! I think so many folks are busy demonizing those who don’t make the same choices that they don’t stop to think why they made that choice, or why someone else would have an extremely good reason for why they chose (or were forced to choose) something else.

    • In general, I’d say most of the writers staked their claim in their decision without demonizing parents (but some were more zealous than others). I found myself agreeing most with the writers who said being a GOOD parent was very hard work and very time consuming, and they were just not cut out for it. I very much appreciated one writer who was a stepmother. As a stepmother, I’d say the role’s title should not have the word “mother” in it, because even a very good stepmother is never, ever a mother.

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