Books by Meghan 

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The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars

 

A New York Times Notable Book for 2019

A New York Post Top Ten Book for 2019

 

In paperback November 13, 2020


" . .  a lifeline thrown to those of us who feel like we’re drowning in nonsense.” — Geoff Dyer on his favorite books of 2019, in LitHub


In the fall of 2016, acclaimed author Meghan Daum began working on a book about what she saw as some of the excesses and contradictions of contemporary feminism. With Hillary Clinton soon to be elected, she figured even the most fiercely liberal of her friends and readers could take the criticisms in stride. But after the election, she knew she needed to do more, and her nearly completed manuscript began to undergo a major transformation. What emerged in its place is the most sharply-observed, all-encompassing, and unputdownable book of her career.

In this gripping work, Meghan examines our country’s most intractable problems with clear-eyed honesty instead of exaggerated outrage. With passion, humor, and most importantly nuance, she tries to make sense of the current landscape—from Donald Trump’s presidency to the #MeToo movement and beyond. In the process, she wades into the waters of identity politics and intersectionality, thinks deeply about notions of personal resilience, and tests a theory about the divide between Gen Xers and millennials.

This signature work may well be the first book to capture the essence of this era in all its nuances and contradictions. 

 

Praise for The Problem With Everything

Meghan Daum’s electrifying new book . . is a critique of feminism’s “fourth wave,” a social media-driven movement articulating not just the rights of women, along with microaggression concepts like “mansplaining,” but also the fuzzier tenets of “intersectionality,” a hitherto hidden matrix of privilege and oppression.”

— The New York Times Book Review

At a time when nuance of any kind is often dismissed, Daum offers thoughtful takes on hot-button topics.

— The New York Post

Daum’s willingness to question dogma and call out virtue signaling with infuriate some, but I found her approach affectingly personal, achingly earnest, and something close to necessary.”

— Vogue

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The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion

Winner of the 2015 PEN CENTER USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction 

“[The Unspeakable] is formidable, lucid and persuasive. Daum writes with confidence and an elegant defiance of expectation . . . There is no doubt Daum is a brilliant,
incisive essayist. I would follow her words anywhere.”

— The New York Times Book Review

 

“A master of the personal essay candidly explores love, death, and the counterfeit rituals of American life in this "brave, funny compendium"

— Slate


Nearly fifteen years after her debut collection, My Misspent Youth, captured the ambitions and anxieties of a generation, Meghan Daum returns to the personal essay with The Unspeakable, a powerful collection of ten new works. Where her previous collection explores what it is to be a struggling twenty-something urban dweller with an overdrawn bank account and oversized ambition, The Unspeakable contends with parental death, the decision not to have children, and more-a new set of challenges tackled by a writer at her best, investigated in the same uncompromising voice that made Daum one of the most engaging thinkers writing today.

In The Unspeakable, Daum pushes back against the false sentimentality and shrink-wrapped platitudes that surround so much of the contemporary American experience. But Daum also operates in a comic register. With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the New Age search for the "Best Possible Experience," champions the merits of cream-of-mushroom-soup casserole, and gleefully recounts a quintessential "only-in-L.A." story of playing charades at a famous person's home.

Combining the piercing insight of Joan Didion with humor reminiscent of Nora Ephron's, Daum dissects our culture's most dangerous illusions while retaining her own joy and compassion. Through it all, she dramatizes the search for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple and never complete.
 

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Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a memoir

 

From the acclaimed author and columnist: a laugh-out-loud journey into the world of real estate—the true story of one woman’s “imperfect life lived among imperfect houses” and her quest for the four perfect walls to call home.

 

After an itinerant suburban childhood and countless moves as a grown-up—from New York City to Lincoln, Nebraska; from the Midwest to the West Coast and back—Meghan Daum was living in Los Angeles, single and in her mid-thirties, and devoting obscene amounts of her time not to her writing career or her dating life but to the pursuit of property: scouring Craigslist, visiting open houses, fantasizing about finding the right place for the right price. 


Finally, near the height of the real estate bubble, she succumbed, depleting her life savings to buy a 900-square-foot bungalow, with a garage that “bore a close resemblance to the ruins of Pompeii” and plumbing that “dated back to the Coolidge administration.”

 

From her mother’s decorating manias to her own “hidden room” dreams, Daum explores the perils and pleasures of believing that only a house can make you whole. With delicious wit and a keen eye for the absurd, she has given us a pitch-perfect, irresistible tale of playing a lifelong game of house.


Daum has a rare gift in her ability to keep readers laughing through her own tears . . Her spirit is generous, her writing is buoyant and her heart is open to all the ways in which a house holds the key to happiness.

— The New York Times Book Review

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The Quality Of Life Report, a novel

 

A New York Times Notable Book for 2003

 

2017 reissue includes new foreword by Curtis Sittenfeld


New York television reporter Lucinda Trout is in search of greener pastures. Her self-imposed mission: move to the slower-paced, friendly, and vastly more affordable midwestern town of Prairie City, USA.

 

Her search includes but is not limited to: a decently sized apartment with a few aesthetic qualities; a job that is not all about pleasing her conniving, urban terror of a boss; the love of a good man; and, maybe, a dog. And so Lucinda departs with a plan to deliver televised reports to her New York audience about the sweeping landscapes, charming farmsteads, and quirky locals that will constitute her newfound quality of life.

 

Meghan Daum brings her sharp wit and courageous social commentary to a wickedly funny, unforgettable debut novel—one that is redemptive, witty and heartbreaking all at once.


“Effervescent and companionable . . . Daum’s enormous comic gift -- and her ability to use it in the service of fundamentally serious issues -- is an unexpected delight.”

— The New York Times Book Review
 

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MY MISSPENT YOUTH, ESSAYS

In these essays, many of which appeared in magazines like The New Yorker, Harper's, and GQ, the author speaks to questions at the root of the contemporary experience. From the search for authenticity and interpersonal connection in a society defined by consumerism and media; to the disenchantment of working in a "glamour profession"; to the catastrophic effects of living among New York's terminal hipsters, My Misspent Youth touches on emotions and experiences that are at once deeply personal and surprisingly universal. Published in 2001 by the independent publisher Open City Books, My Misspent Youth has enjoyed more than a decade of popularity that many have have likened to cult status.

 

With precision and well-balanced irony, Daum takes on subjects as varied as the hazards of being a student oboe player to the secret world of flight attendants. She implicates herself as readily as she does the targets that fascinate and horrify her and is never anything but honest in the face of the absurdities of hyprocrasies of modern American life. My Misspent Youth contains the beloved essay Music Is My Bag as well as the unforgettable Variations on Grief (not to mention Carpet Is Mungers, her perversely popular treatise on the perils of wall-to-wall carpet and other upsetting decor choices.)


People I know still talk about My Misspent Youth. Nobody writing about her generation was more incisive or entertaining than she.

— Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend 

 

“Throughout this book, there are a surprising number of moments when your jaw just drops in amazement at what she's saying. Even when she's being funny, her writing has a clarity and intensity that just makes you feel awake.”

—Ira Glass, host of This American Life

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Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: 
Sixteen Writers On The Decision Not To Have Kids

 

A New York Times Bestseller


One of the most-visited topics of cultural conversation during the last decade was the supposed "fertility crisis," and whether modern women could figure out a way to way to have it all—a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children—before their biological clock stopped ticking. Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it's necessary to have it all (see Anne-Marie Slaughter) or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.

In this provocative and controversial collection of essays, curated by writer Meghan Daum, who pens an insightful introduction, sixteen acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew motherhood. Contributors include Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, who will give a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood.

This collection makes a smart and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path to a happy, productive life, and takes our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. In this book, that shadowy faction known as the childless-by-choice comes out into the light.

“Hugely significant”

— The Atlantic 

Exhilarating, thoughtful, unconflicted, unapologetic. Talk about the light at the end of the tunnel.”

— Bookforum 
 

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