In my experience, I need to research, purchase, and explore 10 books before I find one that I consider to be breakthrough knowledge. Inherent in being a good experimenter is being OK with the losses. Therefore, remember that every time you purchase a book that turns out to be a dud, you are just one step closer to a book that will change your life.
The metadata that books generate i. This helps me more effectively select which books to go deep on and understand the most important and relevant sections of a book so I can jump right to them. In most cases, doing Fractal Reading on 5 books is more valuable and engaging to me than consuming one book cover-to-cover. For example, humility helps us make better decisions and inspires us to learn more. What we know compared to what humanity has collectively discovered is but a drop in the ocean.
Most of the scientists who have ever lived are alive today! So there are three levels of humility we should have:. Yet, when it comes to day-to-day lived experience, it feels like we know way more than we actually do. Like we are at the end of a cycle rather than the beginning. This is because we are constantly reminded of what we know and rarely reminded if ever of how little we know.
I must have walked through 10 football fields of books and academic journals. On the one hand, it was inspiring to see everything I could learn. On the other hand, it was extremely humbling. It helped me see how little I currently know, and it helped me see that even if I spent my whole life just reading, I would still only know a fraction of knowledge out there. Creating an anti-library by surrounding ourselves with unread books in your home can evoke a similar feeling.
Bestselling author and successful investor Nassim Taleb describes the value of an anti-library brilliantly in his book, The Black Swan:. Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco collected more than 30, books. Thomas Jefferson collected more than 6, books, making his library the largest in the country at the time. The founder of Priceline. Thomas Edison put his work desk in the center of his personal three-story library.
On a great podcast episode of the Knowledge Project, Patrick Collison, the self-made billionaire founder of Stripe, makes the following case:. Life is too short and there are just too many good books out there. On the other hand, we have to be careful about going too far in the other direction, abandoning great books just because we see a book with a catchy title.
This is where Fractal Reading earns its stripes. We know that targeted advertisements are effective. They affect us both consciously and unconsciously. Similarly, books placed strategically in our environment do the same.
My mentor, business partner, and friend Eben Pagan thinks of a bookshelf as a playlist of all-time intellectual greats:. Patrick Collison speaks in similar terms:. Reading a book like a magazine is a powerful metaphor.
Instead, we often skim to find the most interesting and relevant articles and then go deep and slow on those. I'm still reading these because I don't read a book of short stories the way I read a novel. I will say that while I'm reading, it's hard not to go on to the next story as if it were the next chapter. These stories are so vivid, I feel like I'm falling into Harry Potter's pensieve when I start one, and I come out startled and not sure where I am.
I checked the book out from the library weeks ago, and I just can't bring myself to turn it in until I finish it. Aug 12, Ashley rated it did not like it. Pretentious and not in the way I like. The author notably inserts vocabulary such as the "freegan" in one of his stories, in what comes across largely as an attempt to show how cool he is in that ironic, understated way. The loosely constructed stories didn't seem to have a point, but I kept reading, hopeful that the next one would be better. Well, maybe the next one, until I'd finished the book and realized I'd wasted a good deal of the afternoon.
I'm all for listening to undergroun Pretentious and not in the way I like. I'm all for listening to underground bands and hanging out at that one coffee shop around the corner Harry Smith, not Smith's, anyone? Jan 23, Lori rated it liked it Shelves: After completing it just a short 16 hours later, I was forced to admit two things: One, that I can really do some damage when I buckle down and focus on reading.
Two, that I am also starting to enjoy short stories. They are short and sweet. They get right to the point. There are no long-winded, uninteresting side-stories that pull you unwillingly away from the main plot. They don't have time for that. They are forced to be focused. If you feel like you just aren't into the characters or storyline, you don't have to feel guilty wasting time on it.
It's only a few pages long. And the author has multiple opportunities to catch your interest, to suck you in, to make you a fan. Justin Taylor, who is currently at work creating his first full length novel, can certainly write. There is no doubt about it. While there are recurring themes in this collection religion, drugs and sex being a few of the more obvious , each story truly stands alone as far as it's themes and messages are concerned.
In one story, we meet a man who is left to clean up the mess after angels steal his girlfriends soul. In another, a boy plays Tetris while watching as the Apocolypse destroy the world outside his window and his girlfriend sleeps on the floor. Many of Taylor's stories revolve around broken relationships. They are populated by people who are confused, lonely, heartbroken, or just don't care. To be honest, his stories are populated by the exact same people I used to sit back and watch destroy themselves in high school. People who were just outside my social circle.
Friends of my friends. Faces you recognized from party to party. They were the kids in the background, dropping acid or smoking pot, curling into the fetal position and crying when they had a bad trip.
Hitting on everyone, sometimes on anyone, but not willing to commit when their overtures were returned. Or turning suicidal and stalkerish when their love-calls were ignored. A very quick read, a must read for people who are already fans of short stories.
Feb 11, Mike Young rated it really liked it. Openhearted like open all night, honest and going for it. Stories of the admittedly carbonated and flavored by corn syrup, but unapologetic and casting for a durable humanity, a huggable faith. Apr 01, Matthew Brady rated it really liked it.
Dec 29, PoorAlaska rated it did not like it. Justin Taylor must have never met an actual human being in his life if he thinks people act or think the way he writes them to. The plots of his stories are so boring that I hope to God they aren't based on his real life, even tangentially.
He writes about sex and women in a way that is not only misogynistic, but implies he himself must have never actually slept with one. May 20, Katherine rated it liked it Shelves: Maybe the statement was being made by the people who paid out a monthly portion of their slave wages for endless in "She was worrying that the oak tree might come through her ceiling, wood obliterating wood, like a miracle running backward" 2.
Maybe the statement was being made by the people who paid out a monthly portion of their slave wages for endless infomercials and Wolf Blitzer" Excluding that noise, we rode back to our neighborhood in silence" I mean, if I knew he was going to be somewhere I wouldn't go. What a funny concept. When I think about it--This is it! Sep 13, Amanda rated it really liked it Shelves: I feel like I owe this a review? I felt shy about doing one at the time I read it September '10 , but here we go: I read almost every story twice.
This collection is great, and for those who are skeptical of my biases, I read this before that and it blew me away, so there. My favorite story in EHITBTE , and one of my favorite favorite seems weird to say about things that are good because they make you uncomfortable, so let's say one of the best stories I've read anywhere, is "Jewels Flashing in I feel like I owe this a review? My favorite story in EHITBTE , and one of my favorite favorite seems weird to say about things that are good because they make you uncomfortable, so let's say one of the best stories I've read anywhere, is "Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time.
The meat slicing; the description of her being lifted, spun, and pushed; "this is what you wanted, right. Leah at the fridge, the end of "The New Life," the adult realization it's not about if either of you come, liking being a regular, quoting David Berman and "she was a girl again," when you realize he sort of wants to fuck his cousin, and more.
Get a taste for free then go buy it: Jul 03, Amanda Davidson rated it really liked it. Read this on the recommendation of a friend--first encounter: Exciting, vital, honest, a punk analysis that was inside and outside that point of view all at once, a suburban perspective that was similarly and queasily compassionate and ridiculous. Gave me vital feeling of wanting to get it all down, all my own clashing, ridiculous, serious, contradictory worlds. Wonder if Read this on the recommendation of a friend--first encounter: Wonder if part of excitement arose from context, as I read them while at Ida, in a structure with screen for walls and lush woods all around, or in a barn with compost smells wafting in, and the Tennessee hollow big and green outside.
Read rest of book in a big gobble between Brooklyn and upstate NY. Excited for bisexual content on a major press. Did not find total high octane energy throughout the collection. Will revisit and review impressions. Feb 01, Hannah Garden rated it really liked it. This is my th Goodreads book! And it is a good one. It's got that stripped down quality I like to find in short fiction, that nice low Carvery hum--matter of fact and yet not immune to beauty, a cool little cage of oddities and sadnesses and brutalities and accidents and disappointments.
If you were a teenage Floridian who got fucked up too much like a dirtball or mini sociopath junior because everything was boring and weird and then you moved to New York and just tried to get fucked up like This is my th Goodreads book! If you were a teenage Floridian who got fucked up too much like a dirtball or mini sociopath junior because everything was boring and weird and then you moved to New York and just tried to get fucked up like a normal grownup and hang out with whoever because everything was so hard and weird, these stories will probably float your boat pretty good.
Also you will likely also like it if neither of those things is true about you and but rather you simply enjoy super good short stories.
This is not quaint blue-collar realism but something entirely more honest. As for the majority of his stories, however, I count this as a collection worthy of keeping on my bookcase, but only as a model of how short stories shouldn't be written. If you love to read as much as I do, walking into a bookstore as an adult feels exactly like walking into a candy store as a kid. For example, humility helps us make better decisions and inspires us to learn more. This is because we are constantly reminded of what we know and rarely reminded if ever of how little we know. Dec 13, Ash rated it liked it Shelves:
Mar 02, Jeff Talbott rated it liked it. Here's where I wish goodreads had a half-star - this is more than a 3-star book, but it's not a 4-star-er This collection of shorts from an incredibly talented twenty-seven year old shows so much promise that it almost carries you over the spots where you can't help but notice yourself reading a twenty-seven year old's first collection of shorts.
Writing with a spare, slective pen, Justin Taylor could turn out to be a major voice - even in the most lackadaisical of the stories here he can tur Here's where I wish goodreads had a half-star - this is more than a 3-star book, but it's not a 4-star-er Writing with a spare, slective pen, Justin Taylor could turn out to be a major voice - even in the most lackadaisical of the stories here he can turn out a lean, unexpected sentence that just takes your breath away. He captures the disaffected voice of young people on the brink of no longer being young unlike anybody I've read in the last couple years.
If that voice isn't always in service of the most propulsive narrative, it hardly seems the point. This guy is someone to watch.
Feb 09, Michael rated it it was ok Shelves: This is probably more like a 3-star book, but it's my own attitude that takes off another star; I've reached the end of my rope with it. If you're wondering what people mean when they derisively refer to "MFA fiction," look no further than this book. All the hallmarks are here: A lot of promising stories peter off into abstraction and irony, that tendency to flip the switch just when a story is moving into genuine emotion, and the obvious homages to our postmodern forefathers Barthelme, in this This is probably more like a 3-star book, but it's my own attitude that takes off another star; I've reached the end of my rope with it.
A lot of promising stories peter off into abstraction and irony, that tendency to flip the switch just when a story is moving into genuine emotion, and the obvious homages to our postmodern forefathers Barthelme, in this case without really touching on why Barthelme was so good in the first place.
The problem is that the New York lit-crit echo chamber will fawn all over this book, so you can expect more of this from Taylor in years to come. Feb 05, April rated it liked it Shelves: Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever by Justin Taylor, besides being a book with an incredibly long title, is a collection of short stories, basically about hipsters being unemployed doing unglamourous things.
The book is small, topping off at pages. The stories are gritty. Some I related with and some I did not. Read the rest of my review here. View all 3 comments. Jun 05, Bill Hsu rated it really liked it. I'm pretty amused that some of the other reviewers complain about not liking the characters, or the reviews on the back cover. I don't have to like either to enjoy a book. Justin Taylor's sense of timing in some of the stories is just amazing. And he usually leaves out just enough. Oct 05, Sarah rated it did not like it Recommended to Sarah by: A lot of the stories seemed like parodies of something by Raymond Carver.
Parodies, though, that make you want to flush this book down the toilet. Jul 23, Theresa added it Shelves: Not to be a hater but if these stories can get published, then so can yours. Apr 09, glasses like clark kent rated it did not like it. Sep 24, Sleeping with books rated it liked it Shelves: The first collection of short stories by Justin Taylor is not a collection about hipsters.
There is not a single hipster in fact. What you will find here, however, are gritty stories about marginal youth, each one of them struggling in some form or other, be it in dysfunctional relationships, with their families or American society at large. Most of the characters here are not nice people, I think it's safe to say that majority of them are assholes.
The writer does have the ability to write conv The first collection of short stories by Justin Taylor is not a collection about hipsters. The writer does have the ability to write convincingly from the perspective of a variety of identities: Since publishing this book in Taylor has gone on to publishing in the New Yorker where you can sample his ability to get into the heads of his characters and extract some ugly truths about human personalities.
I recommend this one entitled: So what you're just gone. Feb 24, Bri Ahearn rated it liked it Shelves: The fifteen stories are the lives of young Floridians and Manhattanities, endlessly aimless, and oblivious to the world beyond them. They commodified her emotions, sold her own rebellion back to her before she even knew it for what it was. His characters are flawed and everything in them is great: I was intrigued especially by the number of stories taking place in Florida. Jul 05, Matt rated it liked it. I should acknowledge up front that my review probably has some jealousy mixed in-- I really like what this book is trying to do, and in some ways wish I could pull it off.
But I think, too, that the book has some flaws. Most of the stories are told in this immediacy of hardcore en media res, so that we are often in the midst of a social scene-- might be a romantic triangle, or a housing situation with a lot of roommates, etc-- when the drama kicks off. And Taylor rarely tells us explicitly what t I should acknowledge up front that my review probably has some jealousy mixed in-- I really like what this book is trying to do, and in some ways wish I could pull it off. And Taylor rarely tells us explicitly what the relationship is between the characters.
More than that, often new characters, or at least new character names, will appear in the thoughts of his narrators. So the experience is pretty disorienting, but that can be all right when it works. Sometimes here, though, I felt like that technical challenge, which maybe even counts as a stylistic highlight, got in the way of the story's basic interest.
Some of these, I feel bad saying it, felt a little immature on the level of story, that they were wedded to the same romanticism of the punk rock anarchist characters, without really elevating the stories beyond that. I thought, too, that the range of experiences conveyed in the stories was a little limited. Mostly the same kinds of people, often in the same circumstances-- lots of aimless folks in their early twenties, duking it out in FL or NYC.
Often the characters have some intriguing leftist views about collective lives, or being freegan, or the like, but those ideals are never really challenged in the story, so they are kind of outside the realm of what was happening, except as window dressing. That doesn't mean it's all bad, by any means. And there were some standout stories for me: But I feel like there's a better collection in these five stories than what we get, with the twenty or so stories that there are here, even if I love the idea of a mostly mute recurring character who named himself after the band Snapcase.
Aug 14, Matt rated it did not like it.