About All Joy and No Fun

Praise from writers

“An indispensable map for a journey that most of us take without one. Brilliant, funny and brimming with insight, this is an important book that every parent should read, and then read again. Jennifer Senior is surely one of the best writers on the planet.”

–Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

A lovely, thoughtful book, written in a generous spirit and with a piercing intelligence. Jennifer Senior manages to mix unflinching social commentary with a warm and compassionate voice.”

–Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“If you’re a parent in 2013, you have to get your hands on this book. Wise, engrossing, and so real that I fear Senior has been spying inside my house, All Joy is a must-read for those of us whose lives have been enriched and derailed by having kids.”

–Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of Prep and American Wife

All Joy and No Fun captures the complex texture of parents lives, the joys and the sorrows, highs and lows, with remarkable insight, intelligence, sensitivity, and subtlety.”

—Alison Gopnik, bestselling author of The Philosophical Baby

“The perfect intellectual Rx for today’s overstressed parents: A calm, clear-eyed analysis of all the reasons their lives seem to be falling apart. While scrupulously considering ‘big data, the book's triumph is the way Senior's own observations, presented with modesty and offhanded style, so brilliantly take down myths and assumptions to reveal why today's parents find their experience of raising children so different from what their own childhoods led them to expect. This is a profound book about the meaning of love and how we raise not just our children, but ourselves.”

–Tom Reiss, author of The Black Count, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize

“Travelling far beyond the infant and toddler years into the acute challenges of adolescence, Senior ingeniously deconstructs the kinds of experiences that all parents have but few parents talk about, revealing in countless ways that none of us are in this alone. I loved this book.”

—Madeline Levine, bestselling author of Teach Your Children Well

“Jennifer Senior has written a wonderful, smart, and deeply reported book that challenges many of the most sacred assumptions about modern parenthood. Written with authority and wisdom, it is destined to be the one book that all parents take with them on their mad, hair-raising, and, yes, joyous odyssey.”

David Grann, bestselling author of
The Lost City of Z

Praise from critics

"A trenchant and engrossing book...with extremely impressive research. Salted with insights and and epigrams, the book is argued with bracing honesty and flashes of authentic wisdom...Senior deploys a novelist's sensibility in giving evidence of [parents'] privileged euphoria…All Joy and No Fun inspired me to think differently about being a parent.” (Read the complete review here >>)

—Andrew Solomon, The New York Times Book Review

"Jennifer Senior's astute book [is] clear and helpful...refreshing...an eye-opening debut, and it will help a lot of parents feel less alone, if not less less frazzled."

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

[All Joy and No Fun] is an important book, much the way The Feminine Mystique was, because it offers parents a common language, an understanding that they’re not alone in their struggles, and an explanation of the cultural, political, and economic reasons for them….All Joy is not parenting advice so much as a critique of how American culture – from our lack of social structures to the sheer quantity of activities and homework kids grapple with – is driving parents slightly crazy. Told "homework is the new daily dinner," Senior reflects on the decline in volunteer work and public involvement of the last decades, and concludes, "Maybe dinner should be the new family dinner." It’s good advice.”

–Christian Science Monitor

"Always generous in tone, Senior is a keen observer of the impact children have on their parents' marriages, mental health, work, and social lives, and she makes deft use of social-science research to tease out cultural shifts...the book’s most useful contribution may be the connection it makes between joy and, surprisingly, grief."

—The New Yorker

”A quick, lively read...[Senior's] carefully observed case studies of modern families read like scenes from novels, capturing moments of peekaboo and homework and running through sprinklers with vivid, lived detail. She writes, "The vocabulary for aggravation is large. The vocabulary for transcendence is more elusive." She finds this vocabulary, inviting us into the heart-expanding moments of parenthood."

—The San Francisco Chronicle

"Attention childless persons: If you’re thinking of having kids, and are looking for an accurate assessment of the experience, disregard the holiday cards you may have received that portray merry families in various stages of triumph. Instead, read Jennifer Senior’s book. This eloquent read is a tonic”

—Huffington Post

“Chatty, generous and yet statistically grounded reverse-angle of the usual studies of what parents do to children.”

—New York Post

“Jennifer Senior’s excellent new book…is not prescriptive. She doesn’t tell parents to be more mindful or drink more wine or neglect their kids; she just wants them to understand why they are always so stressed out.”

—Hanna Rosin, Slate

“A richly woven, entertaining, enlightening, wrenching and funny book.”

–The Washington Post

“Neither a polemic nor a finger-wagger, [All Joy and No Fun] reveals a pastiche of perfectly lovely characters whose flaws and frailties and tiny triumphs make them all too human.”

—The Chicago Tribune

"Although...this isn’t an advice book, Senior’s wise compassion provides guidance that’s both necessary and inspiring.

–The Boston Globe

“If you are tempted to read just one more book on the arguably over examined subject of parenthood, let it be Jennifer Senior’s wise and surprising All Joy and No Fun.


Jennifer Senior successfully connects a barrage of scholarship with the real experiences of moms and dads, and the resulting book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, is completely fascinating...she can beautifully gloss a complicated academic text and then pull out a quote so lovely you want to tack it on your wall...As the mother of a 3-year-old, I found myself underlining passages that begged to be shared with friends...In short, All Joy and No Fun is a terrific read that speaks to something so present, yet so intangible: how each generation of children inevitably and irrevocably changes the generation of parents who bore them.


“All Joy and No Fun is chock-full of fascinating information from papers, studies, and books on wide-ranging subjects...the thought-provoking nuggets it contains are valuable for any parent seeking perspective.”

—the Associated Press

”A trenchant look into the world of contemporary parents.”


“Far afield from the headline-grabbing shockers in books like Tiger Mom, this is a thoughtful and deeply researched look at the reality of modern day parenthood...If you want to be a better parent--or, maybe more importantly, to feel better about the parent you’ve become--you need this book."”

—Neal Thompson, Amazon Best Book of the Month