The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight
Best for: People who care too much about what other people think (but also aren’t in any real danger if they think ill of them)
In a nutshell: In this parody of the Marie Kondo book, Ms. Knight provides a method for prioritizing your life (and the fucks you give).
Line that sticks with me: “Personal policies are definitely the way to go in this scenario. They are mysterious and they tend to make people a little bit uncomfortable and really shut down the conversation.”
Why I chose it: I run a blog with an expletive in the title that I hope to someday turn into a book, so I thought I’d check out another curse-word-laden choice.
Review: It’s fine. Really, the two stars is probably a bit unfair, given that I could see someone finding parts of this really helpful. If you have difficulty saying no to things, and don’t know how to prioritize your life meaningfully, I think this book can help. I’ll get to the major issues I have with it down below, but first, the good stuff.
Ms. Knight breaks down our lives into four categories: Things, Work, Friends/Acquaintances/Strangers, and Family. Within each category she asks us to write down all the things currently occupying our brain space (good and maybe not good), and then go back and cross out the things that we need to stop giving a fuck about. Things that take p too much mental space and that stem from us caring about what other people think of us.
She also is quick to recognize, however, that just doing whatever you want can make you an asshole, so she offers tips on how to avoid that in how you gently respond to requests for your time, thought, or energy in areas you’ve decided to stop giving a fuck about. For example, you might have decided to stop giving a fuck about dieting, but your friend won’t shut up about how he is eats paleo. Can you let him know you’re not interested in that topic of discussion, and do that without guilt? Possibly.
But it all goes downhill for me in two spots: the work section and the family section.
In the work section, she uses wearing sandals (against dress code during summer Fridays) as something she’s decided to stop giving a fuck about. She just wore sandals, and that was that. No consequences. And she’s right in that its generally a silly rule, and she also acknowledges that uniforms and safety issues might make her point moot. But the overall premise is that if you just ignore the rules you think aren’t worth your time, you’ll be fine. And I just want to take her editor aside and say “um, you didn’t see anything that, I don’t know, might backfire on an employee?” Ms. Knight suggests that as long as you’re doing your job well, this stuff won’t matter, but the thing is, for some members of our population, they must follow every fucking rule or some racist or sexist asshat will use it as an excuse to fire them.
In the family section, she goes full tone deaf and uses the example of her aunt and uncle talking about the validity of president Obama’s birth certificate as a means to illustrate not giving a fuck about talking politics with relatives. Can you guess the race of the author from that? Because I can. So many white people have just decided that they don’t need to give a fuck about talking about racism with their relatives because it bums them out or makes them mad, without considering the consequences of those folks continuing to live their lives with that opinion uninterrogated. I just … arg. It made be super mad, and I hope will perhaps get a serious look if the book ever gets a revision or ends up in paperback form.