The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k took advantage of me.
Written by Sarah Knight, the book is a straight up send up of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and if you had asked me a couple of months ago which one I would prefer to read, I would have answered neither.
However, when you’ve just left your cosy little job and find yourself wandering around Foyles at 11am on a Tuesday, a time when everyone else is contributing to society, achieving their goals or buying stuff without needing to check their bank balance first, these books appear shiny and new and comforting. They promise to help fix you, and on that Tuesday at 11am, I really felt like I needed fixing.
Whereas Kondo encourages you to streamline your stuff by systematically sorting it into objects that you have an emotional connection with and objects that you don’t, Knight suggests that you extend this approach to include the rest of your life; sorting the things that you give a fuck about from the things that you don’t, so that you no longer ‘spend time you don’t have doing things you want to do with people you don’t like.’
I found Knight’s book much more appealing than Kondo’s, as I felt there was much less chance that The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck would have me sitting on my bed at 2am, surrounded by knickers sorted in accordance to my emotional connection with them, eventually having to clear a small space in which to sleep, like a little hamster in a nest of never-worn g-strings.
Plus, as someone whose most used, most loved phrases include ‘oh my fuck’, ‘fuckety, fuckety, fuck’ and ‘fuckscapade’, the title seemed warm and familiar.
It was on page 77 of 208 that I finally started to get The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck. It was then that I realised what it was that I didn’t give a fuck about.
I didn’t give a fuck about finishing this book.
It’s quite possibly the first book that I haven’t finished since my A levels and I can’t decide whether that makes it extremely effective, or just a book that should have been a leaflet?
I then spent several minutes staring out of a rain spattered window, pondering whether all books are actually meant to be read to the very end, or are we just meant to get what we need from them at the time? And, really, isn’t that just a metaphor for life; our relationships, our jobs, our interests? That maybe nothing does last forever and we’re all just-
Then I realised that I didn’t give a fuck about any of that either, and that I was just really, really bored of that book.
I think this was mostly due to a mind-crippling case of fuck fatigue.
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck manages to completely strip the word ‘fuck’ of all meaning, a little like when you were a kid and you repeated a word over and over again until it was nothing more than a weird sound. ‘Fuck’ is used so often that it starts to become very irritating by the end of the third chapter; I think the only reason I made it to page 77 was because I made the editorial decision to replace the word ‘fuck’ with the phrase ‘tiny rat’s ass’ quite early on.
There are some useful perspectives in this book, though. Knight’s suggestion that you sit down and create a Fuck Budget is, for most of us, probably a good one; the idea that you assign yourself, say, 12 fucks and give these to 12 things in your life, means that you very quickly come to realise that you don’t have room in your budget to give a fuck about trying to make cauliflower pizza bases.
However, helpful ideas like this are completely overshadowed by the mounting irritation that you experience when you read the word fuck, meaning that you can hardly bear to look at the page for fear of being hit, yet again, with the F bomb.
So, if you judge a book by your desire, or lack thereof, to reach the last page then The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck is a tiny-rat’s-ass-ing fail.
If you judge a book by its ability to make you do something, then this is without a doubt the most effective book I’ve ever read.
In the last two years I have forced myself through a lot of books that are supposed to boost your productivity; at best, they’re self-help books disguised as business books so that men can talk about them whilst playing golf, and at their worst they boil down to nothing more than one big macho pissing contest over who gets up the earliest.
None of them have made me act as quickly as this book did. The instant that I realised I didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass about finishing it, and in order for the whole thing to not have been a complete waste of time, I knew that had to stop doing something that bored me and start doing something that I did give a fuck about.
For me, that was writing the About Me page that I’d been struggling to complete for the last week. It could just have easily been eating a cheese toastie, though; career and delicious snacks, both things that I am willing to make room for in my Tiny Rat’s Ass Budget.
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck is a book that gives you a shoulder squeeze when you need it.
It’s a firm, reassuring nod when you’re tired and are looking for permission to not give a fuck about unanswered emails, or Christmas cards, or LinkedIn, or whether over-the-knee boots are going to look bad on you because you have weird knees.
It helps you to give less fucks, without ever telling you to be someone who gives no fucks.
For me, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, was a book that proved to be so effective in making me not give a fuck that it pretty much ate itself; perfect for if you’re looking to snack on self-help, rather than gorge on it until you throw up.