greyscarf's review

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4.0

3.5 instead of 4. A captivating books of essays about the recent increase of people who choose to forgo having children for myriad reasons. The provocative title may challenge readers but, happily, each essay has plenty of substance to chew over. These are not essays that zealously preach to the childless choir--each are matter-of-fact, intimate, and self-aware. Readers will find Lionel Shriver talking about the lingering effects of the Sexual Revolution on current attitudes toward being CBC, Geoff Dyer affirming his dislike of entitled kids being linked to his 'class antagonism', & M. G. Lord's growing realization as to how much nature does play a role in an adopted child's development.

The collection does have more entries by women than by men, but editor Daum states in her introduction that this probably reflects "the degree to which men devote serious thought to parenthood. . .compared to women, who are goaded into thinking about it practically from birth." The essays by female writers are, in fact, very exact & careful in their reasoning, probably because they have the stigma of "explaining themselves" to a culture that often demands to know "why not?!" While the main theme is obviously childlessness, another consistent parallel them is breaking down the idea of 'having it all.' Most of these writers state emphatically that this idea is simply not possible--that all adult choices involve a degree of sacrifice & regret.

There's no one essay that offers the perfect argument but as a reader, I had many moments of recognition & familiarity. This book is not just for those who are interested in being childless-by-choice and are looking for a similar point of view. I would also recommend it for those who do have children & are struggling to understand the other side of the argument.

mellifera's review

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2.0

I was largely unmoved by most accounts and am incredibly surprised Shriver's condescending, even bizarrely preemptive essay lamenting the decline of "European stock" in the US was even included. It did the overall work a great disservice.

adw7984's review

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5.0

Loved reading all of the reviews on this, I can relate 100%. I am currently 31, but have been saying for years that I don't want children. Of course this is ALWAYS met with the response that I will change my mind. Sometimes I think the hardest part about not wanting children is the part where I try to talk myself into wanting children because everyone keeps telling me that I must want children. This book was amazing and it was so great to read the different viewpoints.

renatasnacks's review

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4.0

As with any anthology, I liked some more than others, but overall it's a good collection that I'd definitely recommend to anyone who doesn't want kids, or is on the fence about having kids. There's an interesting variety of perspectives and attitudes.

(If you already have kids there's probably not much here for you.)

okjkay's review

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2.0

recommended for people who are always asking me, "why don't you want kids?!! don't you want a baby??!?" um no

amythibodeau's review

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4.0

"I wish that we had more conversations about childlessness that didn’t force us to approach them from such a defensive place."

I found this book mostly refreshing, save for the essay by Lionel Shriver, which struck me as bonkers with its focus on what seemed to me about the pressure to pass on good, European genes. I'm a woman, in my 30s and I never want to have children. Though I personally haven't experienced a lot of the pressure some of the authors in this book have, I wish the default assumption wasn't that people should have kids.

As a professional woman, I feel like much of the writing about "having it all" presupposes children. A lot of the work/life balance conversations are about balancing children. I'm concerned with having it all and work/life balance, but there isn't a lot of acknowledgment or support for someone like me.

What I'd love to see happen, and what this book begins to do, is change the base assumption about having children. It's an option, and a great one for many people. But it is only one of myriad life choices. Instead of being seen as the default position, I wish we could all just make the life choices that are right for each of us with less assumptions.

To end, here's a quote from Beyond Beyond Motherhood by Jeanne Safer:

"Real self-acceptance, real liberation, involves acknowledging limitations, not grandiosely denying them. It is true, and should be recognized, that women can be fulfilled with or without children, that you can most definitely have enough without having everything. How fortunate we are to live in an era when we can make deeply considered choices about which life suits us, and that now the world looks slightly less askance if we go against the flow."

More of my favorite bits here: http://www.amythibodeau.com/blog/2015/4/12/reading-highlights-selfish-shallow-and-self-aborbed

3njennn's review

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4.0

This book was much better than I expected. I thought there was no need for me to read this since I've chosen not to have children and am comfortable with that choice. I didn't think I needed to know why others made the same choice. However, I found that this book is about much more than the decision not to have children. Many of the writers had reasoning I never thought about and there is a lot of social commentary in the book that's worth considering.

I was surprised by how many of the writers were childless by way of abortion or who had at one point really wanted kids. I've never been in the latter camp and I've always been extremely careful not to become pregnant, so I don't really think about abortion. It is interesting to consider how many different paths there are to the same end state.

I am happy to be living in a time where society discusses this issue and when we are moving in the direction of it not being a foregone conclusion that everyone should want to have children. Based on the conversations I still have regularly about my choice, I know there is still a long way to go.

runningreader's review

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3.0

Well balanced collection of essays. They were short enough that it was nice to read an essay or two then put it down. I expected to feel empowered by the end of the book though and ended up just feeling "meh." No one's reason for having/not having kids is more validated than others. That's my biggest takeaway. Have kids, don't have kids. Just don't force your opinions on other people.

piepieb's review

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4.0

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Being childfree/childless by choice seems to be a taboo subject. I'm not very vocal about my childfree stance, as kids come into my place of business every day, especially during the summers.

I didn't even really think that I had a choice not to be a mother until a couple of years ago. I don't want them. I don't want them for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that they're expensive (I come from a family of 5 kids).

Finding and reading this book was like a breath of fresh air. While I receive witty and humorous support from various childfree Facebook groups, it was great to stumble upon this book "out in the wild."

The authors and their thoughts come from a range of backgrounds. Some authors wanted kids originally - I'm thinking of a female author, in particular, who went so far as to seek out a sperm donor but then a few weeks later miscarried and eventually never sought to be a parent again. Another author is a "stepparent," and, like some of the other writers, actually likes kids but never wants to have one herself (biologically). Some of the essays spoke of physical abuse/not having a great upbringing, and so did not want to bring a child into that mix.

I borrowed this from the library and wished it was my own personal copy so that I could highlight and underline all my favorite parts, lines that spoke to me. It was a great little collection-- a quick read --and I'm so glad I came upon it.

em_reads_books's review

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3.0

I had mixed feelings about whether to read this or not - I'd seen great excerpts from it and interviews with the authors, but on the other hand, how much exploration of this topic did I REALLY want to read? And that pretty much held true for my experience reading it; there were some great bits, a couple of terrible bits, but most of it just had me going "the writing is great but I'm not that excited about it."

The essays in order of how much I enjoyed them:

1. Lionel Shriver's big steaming pile of racist garbage, complete with straw-man "PC consensus" argument about how unfair it is that those racist opinions get labeled as such
2. The handful of personal essays by people much like me - still young enough to have kids, in a monogamous hetero relationship, who've just always known they don't want kids - fine, but I got nothing out of them
3. The couple of essays that do some social or literary critique and made me think or mentally argue with them and the couple of less serious ones that made me laugh
4. The personal essays from a totally different perspective from my own - the people in queer relationships, the people reckoning with abusive childhoods, the older people - where the good writing was combined with a story I'd never heard before. Paul Lisicky's in particular, about being a gay man of parenting age during the AIDS crisis, blew me away.