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I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids
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I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,855 Ratings  ·  519 Reviews
"You'll Change Your Mind."

That's what everyone says to Jen Kirkman—and countless women like her—when she confesses she doesn't plan to have children. But you know what? It's hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the ad
Hardcover, Original, 213 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen KirkmanTwo Is Enough by Laura S. ScottComplete without Kids by Ellen L. WalkerChildfree and Loving It! by Nicki DefagoNo Kidding by Henriette Mantel
Childfree Books
1st out of 61 books — 31 voters
Bossypants by Tina FeyIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingLet's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny  LawsonYes Please by Amy PoehlerAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Funny Women Memoirs
53rd out of 257 books — 1,086 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 01, 2013 Kerrie rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library, humor
At one point I debated even finishing this book. The first 4 chapters was strictly memoir, her childhood, her parents, trying to make it in comedy, and her early teenage/20s failed relationships. Neurotic, insecure comedienne. Ho hum.

Then at Chapter 5, the whole reason for the book ("I don't want kids and I'm perfectly fine with that!") finally kicked in, and it never let up with the anecdotes of her interactions with People With Kids trying to convince her that "You'd Be a Great Mom!"

As another
Mar 17, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Jen Kirkman is a stand-up comedian who decided early in life that she was not meant to be a mother. In I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, she explores the events in her life that led to and confirmed her beliefs in being childfree. With a witty, at times almost cringeworthy, voice Kirkman details her experiences choosing to forego motherhood in a very child-centric world.

When, in the the first handful of pages, Kirkman compared people badgering her over the need to have kids to them telling her
Apr 21, 2013 Ashley rated it really liked it
From my Cannonball Read V review...

Full disclosure: when I first heard about this book I got annoyed for two reasons. The first was jealousy – “Oh man why did she get to write this book? I so could have written this book. Damn it.” The second was annoyance at the title – saying “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself” seems to play right into the stereotypes so many of those with children have about us childfree folks. I can take care of myself just fine and I STILL don’t want children. But as the aut
Apr 26, 2013 Sahar rated it liked it
I'm glad my friends are too disorganized/drunk to have kids.
Gina Boyd
Jun 02, 2013 Gina Boyd rated it liked it
I have a kid, and I love him madly, but I have never once tried to convince someone else to become a mother. Wait. That's not true. I tried to convince an aunt to have a baby when she first got married, but I was still a kid and didn't know any better. Since I've been a mother, though, no way. I know how hard it is, and I respect a woman who knows it's not for her. I always say that unless you have a burning desire to have a child, you probably shouldn't do it. Because it's HARD. Because there i ...more
Apr 18, 2013 Melisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2013
This woman could have saved herself a lot of trouble if she would just get up some gumption and tell people "Children aren't for me" and cultivate her eat shit and die look.

It works for me.
Mander Pander
Nov 24, 2013 Mander Pander rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013-books, book-club
About halfway through the book I lost count of how many times I thought "SHUT UP, JUST SHUT UP ALREADY." And it being an audiobook, this was both impossible and ironic.

You know what else is ironic? How many different ways she finds to attempt to lead the reader into believing that reproductive evangelists, babies seemingly permanently affixed to their nipples, are constantly tracking her down and trying to convert her to Team Breeder. Given how insecure and insufferable this woman is even to lis
Dec 06, 2012 Robin rated it liked it
e-galley provided on Edelweiss by Simon & Schuster

3.5 stars

Waaaay back when I started in the library biz (mid 70s), there was a book by Shirley Radl titled MOTHER'S DAY IS OVER that caused quite a stir among patrons and staff (it was based on the Ann Landers survey that resulted in 70% saying they wouldn't have kids again). I read it and while I won't say it influenced my final decision 8 years later, it did make me realize just what was involved with raising a kid and I seemed to know even
Jan 06, 2015 Christina rated it liked it
Recommended to Christina by: Caitlin
Shelves: finished-in-2014
Book #12 for 2014

I remember back in the old days of the Web, Amazon was tinkering with its recommendations programming. Having determined that I was a female of childbearing age, it persisted in recommending to me nothing but Barney videos, Playskool toys, and books with titles like Everybody Poops. After several weeks of steadfastly declining any and all of these recommendations, Amazon finally got a clue. Just one, though, because it then started recommending I read nothing but lesbian erotica
Melissa Guimont
Jan 15, 2015 Melissa Guimont rated it really liked it
This is a hilarious and spot-on account of how I feel about that dreaded question "So when are you going to have kids?" I'm glad to find someone else to relate to in this book. More than enough times my vacations have been spoiled, my sleep (in my own house!!) interrupted by the neighbor's kids, and my sanity has been tested with kids that are out of control. Some parents think it's funny while the non-kid friendly side of me wants to hit these parents over the head with their strollers and take ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Darin rated it it was ok
I feel bad rating this book as I did. Because I like Jen Kirkman. A lot. I like her on Chelsea Lately. I liked her telling drunk stories. From how she presents herself and her views and musical interests I think we'd get on famously were we to ever drink together.

So I wanted to enjoy this book. I really wanted to. And I did for a bit. The first part of the book bumps along at a normal pace for memoirs, rehashing the early years with snarky realness. Then the book got to its point: Jen doesn't wa
May 07, 2013 Lynette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, 2013
I absolutely loved this book. I'm childfree, and almost everything that Kirkman wrote about kids or parents could have been written by me. So many things she talked about mirror my own experiences and feelings.

My only issue is the title - I feel like the childfree women I know feel that they need to put themselves down as part of their defense. "I'd be a terrible mother", or "I'm too selfish." You know what? I'd be a great mother. I love kids, I'm great with them - I just don't WANT them. Howeve
Shannon Dale
Jul 02, 2015 Shannon Dale rated it liked it
I saw Jen Kirkman's stand up comedy show on Netflix and loved it. So much of it related to my life. When I discovered that she had a book, I devoured it.

Well, I started off devouring it. And then it started to drag. And then I had to force myself to finish it.

She was just so...whiny.

I don't have kids by choice. I do recognize that it's still not the norm. When I announced at work that I had separated from my husband and divorce was likely, one of my coworkers turned to me and said, "but how w
Lorri Steinbacher
Jun 12, 2013 Lorri Steinbacher rated it liked it
Funny and Kirkman speaks the truth. It is if, motherhood has suddenly become a cult. Feminism was supposed to free up women--give us choices, the freedom to do what we want, when we want to, if we want to. And yet, we live in a culture that questions our essential "woman-ness" if we choose not to have children, if we are honest with ourselves about our own desires and abilities. I have a child, one, all I knew I could reasonably handle. When my marriage ended and I began dating my current boyfri ...more
While I, unlike Jen, do want kids some day, I have apparently hit the age (30) where others find it socially acceptable to 1) ask me if I am seeing someone and (when I say that I am single) 2) not-so-kindly point out that I better find someone if I want to have kids before I am too old! OMG!

While each chapter of the book centered on various lines Jen heard when she admitted she was childless by choice - Oh, you'll change your mind. Who will take care of you when you are old? Don't you think tha
Peter Derk
Jun 25, 2013 Peter Derk rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Sorry, Jennifer.

I've found myself somewhat a fan of memoirs written by female comedians and comedy writers. Don't ask me why, it's just seemed to me that Tina Fey's was better than Mike Birbiglia's, and even though it wasn't all the way, deeply and sensually up my alley, Mindy Kaling's was a surprise hit for me as well.

This one didn't work for me. And I can tell you exactly why.

The premise (choosing not to have kids) and introductory chapter were pretty good. Funny, and also they had an actual t
Ashley (yAdult Review)
Mar 01, 2013 Ashley (yAdult Review) rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, blog, 2013
Originally posted on yAdultReview

I grabbed this book on Netgalley cause of the title. I could say I’m joking but I’m not. I am a person who decided at a young age that I am going to be childfree. I don’t like children. I didn’t even like them when I was one. I am an eighty-year old who yells at children to get off her lawn in the body of a twenty-four year old.

Kirkman takes us on a tour of her life from when she was single and living back with her parents, to when she got married to a man who di
May 02, 2013 Nicki rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. I could relate to Jen, being childfree myself. I've had people say many of the "bingo's" to me over the years too. Finally, now I'm nearly 40, people finally believe me that I do not want kids. I knew that when I was 12!
I loved reading Jen's pet peeves - I also can't stand couples who say "we" are pregnant and like Jen, I also get the visual when people refer to "trying!"
At least Jen had a supportive mother. I do envy her that. Mine saved up baby clothes behind my bac
Huda Al-Anbar
I can not recall exactly how I found about this book, I remember reading a passage about people saying "but you'd be a great mom" and thinking that that was the most ridiculous way to convince someone to have kids. Do you have some psychic insight into my future? did you do a serial of psychoanalysis on my behalf, and get the results without my knowledge??

Now that I finally read the book, I can say that it was one of the most heartfelt, honest book I have ever read.

I admit the first few chapters
Carrie Ardoin
May 17, 2014 Carrie Ardoin rated it it was ok
Even before I became a parent, I knew I never wanted to be one of those mothers who starts every other sentence with, "As a mother..." and then proceeds to give her opinion to anyone within hearing distance, regardless of their parent status or if they had asked for my opinion at all. For the most part, I think I have avoided being that type of mom. I do, however, know plenty of other parents like this. For as much flack as Jen Kirkman catches for being happy in her decision not to have children ...more
May 17, 2013 Brie rated it really liked it
This book made valid all that I experience as a child free woman. It always feels like you are alone in your rude, awkward, run-ins with people who think your saying "No" to the "Do you have kids?" question means they can quiz you in very negative, rude, tone and tell you how wrong you are in not having kids. Since most people have kids you feel like a freak when this happens and wonder why men without kids don't get the same treatment, or at least as often.

You get your femininity questioned, y
Oct 26, 2013 Ashley rated it it was ok
Shelves: fun
It's perhaps unfair (but also unavoidable) to compare this book to Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman." Yet, the whole time I found myself wanting more from this book. Yes, it's difficult to have people question your life choices but WHY that's inappropriate and what it says about American life/gender roles is left almost completely unexplained. It's not that Kirkman needed to write a feminist interpretation of the CBC experience-- she's a comedian writing a semi-memoir for crying out loud-- but ...more
Christopher Higgins
Jun 12, 2013 Christopher Higgins rated it it was ok
I saw Jen Kirkman on Conan a few weeks back and she was very funny (I had no knowledge of her from the Chelsea Handler shows). I had also heard this book was getting pretty good reviews and it was a cheap e-book so I gave it a shot. Unfortunately this book reminded me, that as much as I love comedians, I tend to hate books by comedians. I think the problem lies in the fact that the best comedians think their best in shorts spurts and writing a book is generally the completely opposite of that. E ...more
Apr 28, 2013 El_kiablo rated it liked it
I'm sure Jen Kirkman really does have people haranguing her regularly about being childless, and I'm sure that seems repetitive to her. Unfortunately, this book sometimes feels like a listing of all the times people have said that to her, and thus it's a little repetitive to the reader, too. I get that books can be written to cover narrow topics, but this book's approach to the topic felt too narrow to me - all of the instances where someone told her she should have kids have a lot of overlap wi ...more
Melanie Johnson
Jen's story of why she doesn't want to have children and the rudeness of people who want her to have them and question her decision. This had some funny moments, but it wasn't a funny book. I enjoyed it though. It's okay to decide to not have kids and people should just mind their own business.
May 03, 2016 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really quick, really light summer read. I'm not at the phase yet where I'm being heavily pressured, but I still vividly remember the first time I mentioned to a family member that I didn't think I wanted kids. She rolled her eyes, looked at another relative knowingly and said..."Yeah good luck with that." UGH. Now almost 10 years later I still haven't officially decided whether I want children or not. BUT I despise people doubting my agency as an adult and acting like they know the trajectory of ...more
Andrea Galbusieri
Jun 21, 2013 Andrea Galbusieri rated it really liked it
Oh, how well I can relate to Kirkman! You'd think that by now people stopped asking about a baby, but noooooo ... I like to tell them, listen, I'm 40 and have been married for almost 17 years. Don't you think I would have a child by now if I wanted one? Or take the WHY question ... WHY don't you have children? Uhm, because I'm on the pill? Not to mention that this is a completely offensive question, because it might be that I physically cannot have children. Like Kirkman, though, I don't know if ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Meghan rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor
Repetitive, which drains all the amusement out of it, and since it's supposed to be humor, that leaves nothing. I hate the cover too.
Aug 03, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up. I liked this book overall. I got it from my local library, but after finishing it I'm realizing that it probably would've been BETTER AS AN AUDIO BOOK. Just a guess! Jen makes so many great points about what it means to be a childfree woman right now. I'm just glad that there are books like this for childfree by choice ladies like me.
Nov 24, 2012 Jenne marked it as didnt-finish
Shelves: arc, nonfiction
I was kind of interested in reading a book about not wanting to have kids, because I really, really don't want to have kids, but it turns out there's not much else to say about it unless you're interested in a bunch of stories about this lady's wacky adventures.
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Goodreads Librari...: Summary Fix: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself 3 22 Feb 13, 2014 06:21AM  
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Jennifer Ann "Jen" Kirkman is an American stand-up comedian, television writer and actress. She is known for her regular appearances as a round-table panelist on Chelsea Lately, as well as for her appearances on the Funny or Die sketch series Drunk History and its 2013 continuation television series on Comedy Central.
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“... I think that childfree by choice is the new gay. We're the new disenfranchised group. People think we're irresponsible, immoral sluts and that our lifestyle is up for debate.” 12 likes
“Invalidating a woman’s life choices by saying things like, “Oh, but you’ll regret it if you don’t have kids,” or, “I didn’t think I wanted kids either until I had one,” is like me going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and telling the newly sober that eventually when they grow old, they’ll want to take the edge off with a little gin and tonic and that if they could only just be mature enough to control themselves, they could go on a fun wine-tasting tour in the Napa Valley.” 10 likes
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