the futility of giving universally good advice

A Repository of Cool Stuff For People Who Are Somewhat Like Us

No-one is ever forcing you to act on a recommendation, this is just another data point to factor into your decision, and more information is always better. Right?

…no. Search costs are a thing that exists. Bad information is worse than no information, so we have a responsibility to find and boost genuine signals, rather than spray out more noise. As Tyler Cowen says, giving someone your favourite book imposes an obligation on them: now they have to read it, or skim enough to convincingly pretend they read it, or at least feel guilty about not having read it.

Format, context, preference, timing: unless all these factors happen to line up, specific recommendations sound a lot like random monkey noises.

I say all of this as a prelude to the fact that I’m about to…lay a bunch of recommendations on you.

Quake Books That Rattle Your Brain in Your Skull

Quake Books That Shake Up Your Brain

Mostly when I read a book, I’m looking for the cute little ‘aha!’ moments. I write ‘em down in my notebook so they can never escape. Sometimes a book also touches me emotionally, and it’s nice to be reminded my blackened heart still beats. And in most cases, that’s the end of it—I turn the last page, and my brain keeps merrily ploughing along the same well-worn tracks as ever.

But every once in a while, I come across something really wild. Gray matter lurches and heaves, while the few remaining brain cells huddle under the kitchen table. Neural pathways are destroyed and rebuilt. When the tremors finally stop, nothing looks the same. My meat-computer has been jolted out of its old familiar ruts, and into a new and unfamiliar area of idea-space. I am shook…

The 100 Books Challenge: A love letter to reading

The 100 Books Challenge (A Love Letter to Reading)

As a small human being, I made fortnightly trips to the public library with a garbage sack slung over my shoulder. Not a tote, not a grocery bag; a big ol’ garbage sack. Short stories, novellas, comics, teen fiction, non-fiction – all of it disappeared into the sack’s insatiable maw.