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

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  1,591 ratings  ·  322 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...more
Hardcover, Original, 213 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Two Is Enough by Laura S. ScottI Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen KirkmanNo Kidding by Henriette MantelChildfree and Loving It! by Nicki DefagoKidfree & Lovin' It! - Whether by Choice, Chance or Circumstance by Kaye D. Walters
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2nd out of 36 books — 22 voters
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Summer 2013 Reading
27th out of 264 books — 106 voters


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Kerrie
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...more
Shannon
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...more
Ashley
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...more
Sahar
I'm glad my friends are too disorganized/drunk to have kids.
Robin
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...more
Gina Boyd
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
Melisa
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.
Melissa Guimont
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
Nicole
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...more
Darin
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...more
Peter Derk
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...more
Ashley (yAdult Review)
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...more
Mander Pander
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...more
Lorri Steinbacher
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
Christopher Higgins
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
El_kiablo
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
Nicki
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...more
Jennie
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
Lynette
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...more
Andrea Galbusieri
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
Carrie Ardoin
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
Jenne
Nov 24, 2012 Jenne marked it as didnt-finish
Shelves: nonfiction, arc
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.
Elly Sands
I've never heard of Jen Kirkman and have never watched the "Chelsea Handler" show but OH BOY COULD I EVER RELATE TO EVERYTHING SHE HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE CHOICE OF HAVING NO CHILDREN! This is a quirky,fun and raunchy read but filled with many insights as to what goes on around a woman who does not want kids. I've dealt with this all my life. The desire for children has never been in me. The rhythm of my life was never focused towards them and I must say that it has been a great life. So I thank th...more
Cindy
I won this book in a Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway. Thank you Simon and Schuster.

My favorite part of the book was Jen's Mom. The first 3 chapters featured Mom and those were the funniest. After that Mom didn't appear much and the book took on a really whiny tone. The last chapter was sad to me, not because Jen never had kids. That isn't sad, it's awesome that she followed her dream and knew her limits. It was sad because it should have been more triumphant, more "in your face" to anyone who ever...more
Jaime Abbess
Fifty years ago it was mind-boggling to think of a married couple not wanting to have children. Though the decision to abstain from child-rearing has become more common the shock of society seems to not have lifted at all. This is the subject of Kirkman's work.

You may recognize Jen Kirkman from the roundtable of Chelsea Lately or even from her Drunken History videos. She is her mid-thirties and quite happy to be child-free. However, complete strangers cannot grasp this, and since Jen does speak...more
Alisha Marie
Apparently, I'm hard to impress when it comes to books written by female comedians. Comedians, of course, that are not Chelsea Handler. I find Jen Kirkman witty and hilarious in her interviews and especially at the round table in Chelsea Lately. However, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself...was barely funny.

I want a child. However, I am fully aware that other women don't feel the same way. I don't look at them like they're freaks though, cause different strokes for different folks and all... I cou...more
Anina
Overall, I think it's hard for comedians to write a consistently entertaining book. Their whole thing is "sketches"--short blasts of exceptionally funny anecdotes--so a memoir is hard to pull off, and Jen Kirkman did the best that she could.

This book was pretty funny at times, but I think I would have liked it better as a chapter rather than a whole book. It was really funny--for a while. The first several anecdotes about people's shocked reactions to her childfree choice were entertaining, but...more
Brie
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...more
Darci Meadville
As another person who is childfree-by-choice, I appreciated the very existence of this book. I'm happy to say that women around my age who are having children, either haven't ever pressured me on this issue, or haven't in recent memory. It's older women (though my aunts do seem to have let go of me ever having them) who still ask me this question. I don't, however, feel the sort of anger that I feel is present in this book. Or maybe it's frustration, not so much anger. I just start listing all o...more
Jeni
Funny and at times I caught myself going, "Yes, thank you." Especially during the child-free swimming pool, which was probably my favorite part. Though during some of the more autobiographical parts she was just a little too neurotic for me to really relate to. Some favorite lines:

About the neighbor kid: "I know that there's no way I can march upstairs and tell a toddler to stop crying about how he doesn't understand yet that sleeping is fucking awesome."

"I know vampires are considered sexy by...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Summary Fix: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself 3 19 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.” 4 likes
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