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I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids Hardcover – April 16, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 241 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Jen Kirkman has written an excellent—and very funny—guide to promote not having children. Thanks girl, for saving me the time.” (Chelsea Handler)

“If you've ever been told you'd ‘change your mind’ about anything in life—when you knew that you wouldn't—this book is for you. Jen has a unique, fresh and funny way of reminding people that sometimes, you really do know what's best for you. I’m glad she didn’t change her mind about writing this smart, brave, and heartfelt book.” (Sarah Colonna comedian and New York Times bestselling author of Life As I Blow It)

“Boldly funny without being anti-mom.” (InTouch magazine)

“Very funny. . . . the core of the book is about not wanting to have children, and the ways in which society gets up in your face about it . . . I laughed out loud several times.” (TheHairpin.com)

“Candid, funny stuff.” (Sacramento Bee)

"A standup comedian's hilarious explanation for why, gee, thanks for asking, but she isn't going to change her mind about not having children." (Tampa Bay Times)

“Full of humor, wisdom, and laugh out loud moments.” (The Kentucky Democrat)

“Kirkman puts her comedic talent to use by snarking to her readers about the ridiculousness of baby culture, overly-enthusiastic parents, and total strangers who feel it necessary to publicly pry. And since it’s a good bet that those readers feel the same way, this book may very well strike a funnybone.” (Savannah Morning News)

“A seriously humorous stance on deciding not to have kids. . . . With the novelist’s penchant for self-flagellation and exploitation, and jokes punctuating at least every page, this book is ideal for the woman who needs a quick comeback for those who criticize her about not wanting kids, or for those just looking to laugh.” (Publisher's Weekly)

“Between these charming, cringe-worthy, and badass tales, Kirkman successfully convinces us she isn’t meant for motherhood. It’s safe to say she’s much better suited to birthing books.” (ThirdBeatMagazine.com)

“This book takes you through the journey of Jen Kirkman’s misunderstood child-free life. I’m now convinced of two things: Jen is freaking hilarious and she should definitely not have a baby—she should have a Valium.” (Whitney Cummings creator of Two Broke Girls and Whitney)

“Jen Kirkman’s wickedly original yet totally universal debut about the expectations of others kicks so much ass you'll agree with her even when you don’t. Not for the stupidly over-sensitive. For lovers of great!” (Greg Behrendt #1 New York Times bestselling author of He’s Just Not That Into You)

About the Author

Jen Kirkman is a world-touring stand-up comedian and the author of the New York Times bestseller I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales of a Happy Life Without Kids and I Know What I’m Doing—And Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction. Her Netflix original comedy special I'm Gonna Die Alone and I Feel Fine streams worldwide, and she has released two comedy albums, Self Help and Hail to the Freaks (which hit #13 on the Billboard charts). She was a longtime writer and panelist on the E! Network’s Chelsea Lately and the narrator of many episodes in the award-winning TV show Drunk History on Comedy Central.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Original edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451667000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451667004
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a book for solely for women without children. This is a very funny, clever series of stories about people who simply live their lives without regard to what others expect of them.

I've seen some people take shots at Jen Kirkman for being a child hater. If you read this book, you'll see that Jen doesn't hate kids at all. There was recently a story from the UK about a woman in her 50s who took to the press to tell the world that her greatest regret in life was having kids. (...).dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2303588/The-mother-says-having-children-biggest-regret-life.html).

That is someone who hates kids. Jen's story is quite the opposite. She knows she doesn't want kids and not having any is the most responsible thing she could have done.

But as much as the book is a thoughtful analysis of a person's life and how she is, indeed, very happy in a life without children (or a spouse), it's also an endearing and hilarious story about a person navigating her way through her own mind.

I'm a married guy without kids and this book really spoke to me. It's not just for women (with or without kids) and it really isn't like the books from others who work with Chelsea Handler (I think it's a lot more thoughtful and a lot less of the "I got drunk and slept around" theme). It's very funny, but not in a bawdy or crass way. Like her comedy, Jen Kirkman's book finds its humor in observational story telling with a positive, yet sardonic, bent.

This is a book for anyone who hasn't conformed, in one way or another, to what society expects of us.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I myself have no desire to have children, never have, never will. I can say that with confidence because I know myself very well, better than any stranger or misguided friend trying to give "life advice". However, my whole life I've had people telling me "You'll want them later!", "You're too young to know what you want right now!", "All women want babies! Where's your motherly instinct??" or better yet "What if your husband wants kids, then what?". After YEARS of people telling me I'm wrong, naive, inexperienced, or just too plain stupid to know what I really want it's nice to know I am not alone.

I greatly enjoyed this book, and I predict I will be rereading it soon!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you only know Jen Kirkman from Chelsea Lately, this is your chance to get to know her better. While the running narrative is about her life-long desire not to procreate, don't worry, that's not all it's about. The book covers everything from childhood to divorce and beyond, and does so with unapologetic honesty AND comedy. When Jen says she has had her decision to remain childless questioned for most of her life, she isn't kidding. To be clear, Kirkman doesn't hate kids, she just doesn't want to care for anything and that isn't exclusive to children. If you have ever been told that you will 'change your mind' about having kids, you will love this book. This book isn't just for the childless though, as there is enough hilarity in just watching this neurotic comedian stumble through life to keep you reading. Kirkman has a gift for punchlines and knows exactly where to drop them in a story for the maximum effect. Some might cringe at the situations she finds herself in, but don't feel bad for her. She lived it, she's fine, and best of all, she found the humor and knowledge in it and is willing to share.

Of course, if you are a fan of any of the Chelsea Lately authors, or Chelsea Handler herself, buying this book is a no-brainer. If you aren't a fan of Chelsea Lately, don't let that stop you from getting this. If you have ever felt like an outsider, or worried that you will die alone on the kitchen floor, or worn bell bottoms to school in 1985, or had a fear of airplanes falling out of the sky onto you, or had horrible interactions with teenagers, or tried to enjoy a vacation at a adults-only pool that was full of kids, you will enjoy this book. (I know, some of those situations are pretty specific, but I don't know you, so maybe you had those situations too)

I hope Jen Kirkman writes more books because I feel like there is plenty more to be mined from her 'happy life without kids'.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thank you Jen for this book! Hopefully not just child-free by choice folks read this book but those with children so they will learn that their judgements are hurtful and the chosen childless women like myself should not be pitied. This book is categorized as humor but is also pungent and insightful. My favorite quote is "...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.”
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Is it possible for a book to look into my soul and proceed to let me know what an idiot I am? Probably not. But I'd like to think it was this book rather than admit I was being a narrow minded moron when it comes to women who wish to have no children. Because I am so guilty of some of the things Jen describes in this hilarious, honest, and very open book.

I have a female friend at work who told me she never wants to have children. And, as I was reading this book, I was amazed at how much I sounded like some of the people described within. I said things like "But you'd be a great mom", and "But you might regret this later on", and "You're 32 years old. What if you change your mind when it's too late?". I have, of course, since apologized to my friend and I have this book to thank for opening my eyes.

Jen Kirkman is funny. And this book is no exception to her self deprecating and completely honest brand of comedy. Being on stage allows for some wiggle room when it comes to honesty. People expect to laugh and if exaggerating the facts gets that response, it's all fair game. Which is fine! But writing a book always seems to bring out a more down to earth feel from comedians and this book is no exception.

You just feel you're getting to know Jen in a way that's separate from her stand up, while maintaining a sharp sense of humor. She hets her point across without sounding condescending. And, although people don't give her the same response, she never once comes across as bitter or "I'm about to run amock with a meat cleaver" angry. As a matter of fact, she says several times throughout the book that she UNDERSTANDS why women choose to have kids. She GETS it.
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