Review: The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney

“Books are not clutter, no matter what some book about getting organised may tell you. Literally no one has ever walked into a library and been like, What a fucking mess. Also, it's difficult to judge people properly if they don't own any books. Oh, your favourite author is David Foster Wallace? Congrats on reading one book in university. You recommend The Alchemist? Can you also share with me some inspirational sayings from your Instagram stream? You loved The Millionaire Next Door? Nice work on your business degree and I hope the real estate thing works out for you. You prefer The Story of O to Fifty Shades of Grey? Your friends think you're pretentious. Subscribe to People? You love Fireball shots and are actually pretty fun at parties. Your favourite book is Moby Dick? Go fuck yourself. See how it works? Plus, if you go to a new friend's house for the first time and they have no books, you can basically turn around and never talk to them again. So keep those books where we can see them.”

-From the joy of leaving your Shit all over the place, p. 87.

Advice on decluttering or tidying one's home seems to be everywhere, and most of it is targeted at women. In particular, Marie Kondo's book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, has spawned a cult-like following of women espousing the Konmari method, which involves systematically going through all your belongings and discarding anything that doesn't “spark joy”. Apparently the Konmari method works well for some people (childless, single people with large incomes?), but I am not one of them and if you ever catch me talking to inanimate objects and storing my dishes on the veranda to save space in the kitchen (it'll save a lot of space after they're smashed to pieces by a small child on a tricycle!) please take me out for a drink and find out what's really wrong with me. Personally, while I wouldn't say I like clutter, I hate decluttering. I hate thinking about decluttering. I hate the way every woman and her cat apparently has an opinion about both the clutter in my home (“you know you can buy storage systems”, “do you really need all these books?” and "you own HOW MANY baby slings?") and every item I decide to discard (“you should hang on to that shaving cream in case your husband decides to get rid of his beard one day”, “that might fit you when you put on some more weight”, and “that's a family heirloom, which you should treasure even though nobody else in the family actually likes it enough to keep it in their house”...). So the joy of leaving your sh*t all over the place was the book for me. While the author, Jennifer McCartney, takes pains to point out that it is a parody, not a self help book, and it is very funny, I got the sense at times that she wasn't entirely kidding. Some of us really do need to hear that it's okay to have a bit of mess around and that it doesn't make us bad people, bad wives, bad mothers or failures as women. And her advice not to stress too much about having a messy bathroom, but rather just be grateful for the privilege of indoor plumbing makes more sense than most of what you will read in a lot of self help books (and reminded me a little of Dayna Martin's Radical Unschooling, only without the law of attraction stuff that fills me with rage). Also, I am sure that most serious readers will relate to her section on books, quoted above.

At just 106 pages including illustrations, the joy of leaving your sh*t all over the place is a quick read, which could be enjoyed during a lunch break or during a late night bout of anxiety induced insomnia (especially if it's clutter related anxiety). It's a fun book that will make you laugh and maybe even help you feel better about not having your collection of rubber duckies in a neat row.

Published: May 24 2016

Rated: ★★ ★ ★ ☆

No disclaimer this time because I actually paid money for this one. And it was worth every cent.

For more on the topic of mess and tidying been left up to women, especially mothers, I recommend MHeket's Mess, Mothering and Meeting in the Middle on Whole Woman.

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