Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, which Little, Brown released at the end of 2015, started as a Marie Kondo parody and ended up a mini cottage industry of expletive-laden self-help titles that together, according to the publisher, have sold 2.5 million copies worldwide in all formats. Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Harper) has sold 1.6 million print copies, per NPD BookScan, since it pubbed in 2016; it continues to move thousands of copies each week. What’s behind the continued popularity of these books?
“People are tired of bullshit,” says Joe Biel, founder of Microcosm Publishing, which is releasing two books in its existing Unfuck series in the coming months. Knight has a new book, too, as do other veterans and new voices in the NSFW genre.
Engle, a certified sex coach, believes that in this political moment, sexual empowerment is the key to women reclaiming power. “It’s how to fuck shit up,” as she writes in her book, which serves as a feminist manifesto and sexual how-to. Engle’s real talk—peppered with every profanity in the English language—covers such diverse topics as sexually transmitted infections and sex toys while ending on a surprisingly traditional message, with chapters dedicated to helping readers find the love they deserve.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies
By her late 20s, Schuster, a Comedy Central executive, was outwardly successful but felt lost in a haze of anxiety, depression, and self-medication as she tried to tamp down lingering childhood trauma. She shares the road map she followed from rock bottom to well-being, offering lessons in self-care gleaned along the way.
Do the Work: The Official Unrepentant, Ass-Kicking, No-Kidding, Change-Your-Life Sidekick to Unfu*k Yourself
In the workbook companion to 2017’s Unfu*k Yourself (377,000 print copies sold, per NPD BookScan), Bishop poses a series of questions that are designed to take readers, he writes, “headlong into the shit pile.” The author promises major change for those willing to excavate and jettison whatever is holding them down.
In Knight’s latest No Fucks Given guide, she helps readers avoid giving what she calls an “ill-advised yes” with templates for a “successful no.” Scenarios include being asked to help assemble IKEA furniture, join a carpool, and hold someone else’s stuff because they refuse to carry a purse.
The Middle Finger Project: Trash Your Imposter Syndrome and Live the Unf*ckwithable Life You Deserve
A self-described “bad influence on good girls who want to quit their job & do something different,” Ambirge encourages readers to take charge and stand up for themselves: “You only have 12 fucks a day to give, so use them wisely.”
Unfuck Your Anger and Unfuck Your Boundaries
Harper, a licensed counselor and the author of Unfuck Your Brain (2017) and Unfuck Your Intimacy (2019), here expands on two of her previously published zines. Anger begins with scientific research into the body’s response to the emotion, and moves into what the author calls the “unfuckening” part: exercises to help readers understand their anger responses and channel those feelings into better relationships and social action. In Boundaries, she examines cultural norms around politeness and people pleasing, positing that relationships can become coercive without proper boundaries in place: “This is the serious heavy lifting of conversations around topics like #MeToo and #TimesUp."