Kid-free, complicated

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed

The title refers to what other people think of the decision to remain childless, because none of the writers here come off as particularly bad. What does come through in Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids (Picador, $26) is that whether or not the decision to forgo reproduction was deliberate, it's always fraught with emotional and cultural baggage. The collection includes essays from Geoff Dyer, Lionel Shriver, Anna Holmes, Paul Lisicky, Sigrid Nunez and UC Davis professor Pam Houston. In “The Trouble With Having It All,” Houston writes incisively about the demand that women successfully juggle parenthood and careers, and insightfully about how being in the world, with or without children, is always about love.