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Non-fiction

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

Last year I read Sarah Knight’s non-fiction debut The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, and I loved every page of it. Knight book is a parody of self-help books, but it was also very useful as women sometimes give too many f*cks about others, and not enough about our free time and self-care. So, as soon as I knew Knight had another book coming out in December 2016 called Get Your Sh*t Together I knew I had to read it, and went on harassing the pertinent editor until she sent me the book. Thanks to Quercus Books for the review copy!

Get Your Sh*t Together‘s subtitle is self-explanatory: “How to stop worrying about what you should do so you can finish what you need to do and start doing what you want to do”. The book is a step beyond Not Giving a Fuck, so that once you have decided how many f*cks to give, you can set your goals and start working towards a better you. But if you already know what you want, and what to care about then this is your book. Knight offers a hilarious categorisation of personalities that very much fits the typical Type A, Type B, and Type C personalities but exemplified with The Chipmunks. Yes, these Chipmunks:

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You can be a Theodore (relatively hopeless), an Alvin (cruises along just fine, but is unable to kick it into high gear), or a Simon (keeps up appearances while dying from a thousand self-inflicted cuts). There are a lot of people in the world, but you will surely fit into one of those categories. Once you learn which Chipmunk you are, get your sh*t together and don’t forget about it (like I did), because Knight will offer specific tips for each of the rodents. It turns out I am a Simon – no surprises here – and this book was more an exercise on relaxing and letting go rather than in learning how to work. It turns out overachievement can lead to losing your sh*t in non-professional tasks. And a better version of myself would not allow that.

The book’s techniques are broken down in easy steps, because that is how things work in real life: Step by step. So, for example, if you want to save for a big holiday, it will take planning in advance, setting up a small bank transfer each day, and small sacrifices that will eventually pay off. Knight is a master of making difficult, long-term tasks look easy, affordable and doable in small steps that will also make you feel successful. Forget about making big sacrifices and feeling void: Her to-do lists will break tasks into achievable goals. For example, to write this book Sarah set herself a 500-words-a-day goal, which looks easy, and amounts to 2,500 words a week, and 10,000 words a month. For writing folks out there, like me this would help me meet my PhD writing goals, while still feeling like I have a life, enjoy the Puppy, go out, read, etc.

So, Get Your Sh*t Together is a parody self-help book that actually works. Knight’s distinctive tone will make her tips feel less like admonisments and more like a good friend’s talk. She never loses faith in her readers, and she constantly offers you tips from her journey from NYC publisher (she edited Jessica Knoll’s bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive) to Dominican Republic freelancer. However what I enjoyed the most is that getting our shit together does not mean working more, but less and reminding Simons that having time off is a big a success as getting work done. Or even a bigger one. Thanks, Sarah.

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