I am the epitome of the Marie Kondo fanatic, so when I received an advanced copy of The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place ($10, originally $15) by Jennifer McCartney, I felt outraged that such a book could exist. “How dare someone slander such a coveted, effective organizational method,” I seethed. And then . . . I read the first page, an author’s note, disclaiming the whole thing is a parody. “Promise yourself to f*cking cool it with the tidying,” the author writes, and despite it being one big joke, I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to embrace those words a little bit more in my life. And that’s why I chose to read the whole non-self-help book in its entirety . . . in one sitting — and you may find yourself doing the same. Here’s why:
If you’ve read Marie Kondo’s books, you’ll instantly pick up on the laughably spot-on mentions.
Jennifer dares to call out the silly parts of Marie Kondo’s methodology with a healthy amount of cursing. At the intro of the book, the author quickly reduces the KonMari Method to: “In short, it’s about talking to your socks.” Who could forget the bizarre-yet-adorable anthropomorphism in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?
The parallels go beyond the prose. The font, the cute little sketches with arrows pointing and IDing the objects (“Pre-Internet Junk: This is a love letter”), and even the book organization feels exactly like TLCMTU, complete with bolded sentences in the middle of the paragraphs to highlight important “lessons” like “When you are messy, everything else in your life will fall into place.” Through her jokes, Jennifer calls out the obvious-yet-ignored fact that discarding your physical crap doesn’t equate to confronting your emotional crap, too. “Sure, it’s easier to go through your drawers and randomly throw away all your sh*t — sorry, selectively keep the sh*t you feel joyful about — than it is to deal with whatever bullsh*t week you are having,” Jennifer writes.
There are countless truthy bits you will relate to.
When it comes to how most Americans really feel about cleaning and organization, Jennifer frankly nails many people’s thoughts exactly. “Indeed, my goal is to destroy any desire you have to help yourself or anyone you know, especially when that desire comes in the form of being neat and tidy, which let’s face it, is a passing desire most of the time anyway,” she argues. Which is why, unlike the KonMari Method’s list of to-dos, this book is all about exercises in acceptance. Here’s an example:
“Take a good look at your living room. Run through a mental checklist you’ve built up over the years relating to that space. Think about all the sh*t you’ve been meaning to do in this room. Does it need painting? Does it have enough mid-century furniture? . . . Now imagine not giving a f*ck about any of it. I mean, do you actually give a f*ck? Your living room probably looks exactly the f*cking same as it did before the deep clean, am I right? So f*cking embrace it. This is your natural state, sweetheart. You were born messy.”
It’ll make you feel less bad that your house doesn’t look like Pinterest/HGTV/Apartment Therapy.
This book will bring you back down to reality, to appreciate things Americans often take for granted, like the fact most of us have access to running water and indoor plumbing. “Spare me your sob story about how all the bathrooms you’ve pinned on Pinterest are unattainable,” Jennifer writes. Sure, home renos might be unrealistic, but even the process of constantly reorganizing can be too much of a commitment for the average American. She jokes, “HGTV recommends scheduling an hour out of your week to declutter your closet. What the living f*ck. I love you, 5-hour HGTV marathons, but don’t tell me what to do.” This begs a larger question about values, and why these books and methods make us feel bad about ourselves and habits. “Have you been brainwashed into believing that wanting to have sh*t, and not worrying about where it goes, means there’s something wrong with you? That you ought to be devastated if you and your place will never be featured on Goop or Martha Stewart Living or Apartment Therapy?”
The book will make you laugh out loud and feel marginally better for the times you choose to be a slob. I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who has read Marie Kondo’s books. And now, in KonMari fashion, I’ll thank my copy of The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place for the purpose it’s served in my life and give it away without looking back.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts