Book Review: The Joy Of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over The Place

The Joy Of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over The Place:  The Art Of Being Messy, by Jennifer McCartney

Despite being very off-color (its title alone gives that away), this book is a generally enjoyable book to read, at the very least as a dialectic with other books that relate to tidying up and decluttering your life [1], some of which the author calls out by name.  I’m not sure how much in earnest the author is, how much of this book is meant to be comical and how much of it is very serious.  At any rate, though, this book does present a positive side to living in a mess, and the fact that the author believes it may not be worth the time to clean it neurotically or to feel guilty because one is not a particularly clean person.  To be sure, the author does want the reader to avoid being a hoarder, but when it comes to ordinary messiness, the author is aiming for a blessed mean between too clean and too messy, a balance that is often difficult for people to find given the social pressures that exist to tidy up regularly.

After a short introduction, this book contains six chapters of humorous and parodic material that gives another side of the picture to the fondness for tidying in many contemporary self-help books.  First, the author urges readers to reset their lives by vowing never to tidy (1), avoiding the clutter blame game (2), discussing the benefits of leaving a mess in various rooms of the house (3).  After that the author discusses how to deal with what is in one’s house (4), including discussions of kids, clothing, and cats.  Come to think of it, this author seems to write a lot about cats.  After that there are chapters about leaving things outside and in cyberspace, including the joy of odd and quirky yard clutter (5) before closing with an encomium to cherishing one’s stuff but not hoarding (6) along with a conclusion and resources and checklist.  Most of chapters contain quizzes, whose answers are often quite entertaining and where I wish there was more than three options because often none of them fit particularly well.  At any rate, the book is short, at just over 100 pages, and a genuinely entertaining read, filled with amusing little sketches that add to the comedic value of the material within it.

There are at least a few ways that one can view this book.  One of them is as a parody that seeks to gently mock those who are messy but to do so in a way that amuses rather than insults people.  Another layer of meaning is that this book may indeed serve to help people justify to themselves (and perhaps even to others) why they are uninterested in being too clean given the massive cost and expenditure that can be involved for something that will inevitably get messy again before too long at all.  Possibly, though, the author could be aiming at starting a conversation about the benefits of having a messy desk or house in terms of the creative gains that can result from dealing with clutter.  To be sure, the author is staking the minority opinion in terms of opining on the benefits of a mess, but it is one that corresponds with the sort of practices that people have, and it is interesting to say if the dispute over the benefits of tidiness as opposed to ordinary messiness attracts a great deal of comment and controversy from a wider selection of writers who engage in debates.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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