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March 3, 2014 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Flatter’s Survival Guide by Lauren Earl

I started reading Flatter’s Survival Guide while I was eating a slice of chewy leftover lasagne, my room smelling faintly damp, having spent the morning pulling clumps of my flatmates’ hair out of the shower drain. Lauren Earl compiled this book from five years’ worth of flatting experiences, so there’s no doubt she knows what I’m talking about.

This book might be the first handy compendium of tips for first-time flatters I’ve ever come across. It’s always been a given that you learn the ins and outs of flatting from experience and word-of-mouth. But not only does Flatter’s Survival Guide give advice from the author, but also from dozens of other young flatters. And it’s put together in an eye-catching and eccentric way, designed by Lauren herself. The electric lime-green cover means it’s a book you can’t miss – it won’t get lost under piles of unopened mail on the coffee table – and every page is delightfully chaotic like an art student’s sketchbook.

From moving out of your parents’ home to solving Post-it-note conflicts in the flat, this survival guide covers it all. There are loads of things first-time flatters will find amazingly helpful, such as the pros and cons of living with friends, a list of questions to ask when you’re viewing a room, a handy “fridge flowchart” and even some flat pledges for everyone to sign. A lot of it may seem like common sense, but as one discerning flatter points out, “common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden.”

Some of Lauren’s own anecdotes are downright scary (“seven males and two females in a seven-bedroom flat”), and sometimes her suggestions are a little out-there: when picking bedrooms, “test who has the highest sperm count – highest count, biggest room!” The book could have emphasised a little more the fact that flatting horror stories like these aren’t actually a compulsory part of student life – I think it’s important to know your own boundaries and acknowledge when your comfort zone has been overstepped. But there’s no doubt the book will be incredibly helpful for any first-time flatter, or even an experienced one who’s lost the plot a bit. From the effort put into designing each page, it’s clear that Lauren wants us to remember above all else: “we are, after all, in the prime of our lives.”

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