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on September 5, 2012
This `guide' basically lays down the rules to being / becoming a wreck of a human-being.

The author does an excellent job covering many of the facets of life where people strive to be successful, only in contrarian. Infused with great amounts of humor (if you're a pervert, morbid and can openly acknowledge the debaucherous side of life) this will keep you laughing (not `all the way to the bank' nor `crying at the ATM'). More than once I found myself laughing out loud - especially regarding the bit about turning your shoes around backward and opposite footing them when you're... unloading one... at work in the bathroom stall, to confuse the snoops or lingerers. Don't forget your Purell.

It appears the base of all this is: alcohol. Unquestionably the number one way to end up a failure is over-indulgence, what with the subsequent imprecise judgment, couch floating, zero ambition, indiscriminate choices regarding women (Dali t**s & 350 pounders, hahaha), self-loathing and `real' friendlessness... a blast of shame with a dash of humiliation.

If not in the least bit a concern for one to pragmatically exercise it is surely informative (as 'How Tos' go) and incredibly entertaining. Recommended for those with a bit of a twisted sense of humor.
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on October 5, 2014
I am still very undecided about this book, but have gone for a three star review. I found Stu to be incredibly annoying and not actually a failure. In order to fail, I have always assumed one first has to try, and our narrator never really did. He was an arrogant, self-obsessed __ (insert your word of choice here), who felt he was so wonderful and talented, life owed him greatness without him getting his backside off a bar stool for five minutes to actually attempt to achieve it. The title should have been "How to be a total waste of space".

Having said that, putting aside my dislike of the character, I could actually find some parts of this book amusing. I thought the self help format was a clever medium and was quite well executed from a writing point of view, although the kindle format, layout, links etc seemed to fall short. The humorous rantings were sometimes a little overdone, but I did enjoy the cast of characters that were developed throughout. Many of his dislikes seemed to stem from petulance and jealousy, but what can one expect from someone who refuses to advance from a mental age of fourteen? Same with the use of coarse and vulgar language. They may offend some, but to me, they were to be expected from juvenile and puerile Stu.

I think Aaron Goldfarb is a talented writer, but I'd like to see his skills put to better use.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 17, 2013
There are lots of books out there by authors who profess to be failures at something - life, love, work, commitment, you name it. Some are rueful, some wry, the funnier ones have an engaging self-deprecating air to them. But, most of those books are built around either or both of the following tendencies: a thirty something need to appear as lame as possible, or an inability to disguise the fact that the author is actually pretty darn impressed with himself. Where the need to portray oneself as an incompetent doofus comes from, I don't know. But it wears thin pretty quickly as entertainment, if it wears at all. As to the false modesty boys, well how much time do you spend with the ones you know like that in real life?

The beauty of this book is that the author isn't just working a doofus "bit", or playing at being a failure. He has looked long and hard at the world around him and he is not encouraged. And he has turned what he has seen into brutal, funny and telling commentary on his and our current state. There are terrific one-liners, throwaway observations, set pieces, and descriptions. This is very smart, accomplished stuff, not just frat boy humor or tales of drunken excess. And get this, beneath it all there is a bit of sweetness and fundamental decency that makes the acerbic commentary all the more telling. What a remarkably successful failure.
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Enthusiast: Calligraphyon April 17, 2013
When I saw the title of this book I appreciated its snarky take the self-help aisle I didnt realize I was going to read one of the funniest books of my life. The main character is not scared to lay his life out for everyone to see. I could tell that he was searching for a grander purpose and that living a life of status-quo chaffed him like brillo on sunburnt skin. I really hope he continues to write he is very talented. But more importantly I hope he finds peace searching can become an endless journey with no rest in sight.
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on January 8, 2011
I got this book for Christmas and I was like, "WTF?" It looked kind of stupid and childish, and, you know what? It was. But it was also hilarious. One of the funniest books I've ever read. I'd finished it before my vacation weekend was over. I've read and enjoyed other "fratire" books by Tucker Max, Aaron Karo, and Maddox, but "How to Fail" is my favorite so far. It had a sweet core that the other lacked. And it's smart too. So I'd recommend it to any one looking for a good, smart laugh that's a quick read too.
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on July 15, 2014
A couple of chapters in, I wanted to delete this book and wish its snarky doofus of a narrator an unfond farewell. But I'm glad I didn't. Dig a little farther, and I found that under the protagonist's self-absorbed slacker exterior is (spoiler?) a real, complex human being who is trying his best to fit in with society's expectations of what he should be, despite being unsuited at it. The earlier difficulties are born of frustration at being a square peg in a round-(a-)holed world, and with his dawning realization of that comes hope and growth, and begins to turn all of his failures into hidden successes.

Also, even in his worst moments, he's funny as heck. This book is worth your time - just persevere through the first part.
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on February 15, 2012
I've been meaning to review "How to Fail" for a while now. Simply, I LOVED this book.

A few months ago, I got this free on Kindle. I'd just bought my first ever Kindle and figured if it was free, why the hell not? Shortly after I began reading it I found myself not minding and sometimes even hoping if the metro broke down or was otherwise hamstrung on my way home from work every night (doesn't take much for that to happen here in DC) so I'd have more time to read "How to Fail."

"How to Fail" is honest, and it really hit home for me. Having wrangled with some of the same situations as Goldfarb's main character, Stu Fish, does, I related pretty quickly. Stu's outlook on life often hits self-deprecating, and I think those were the best moments for me. Throughout the past year and a half in my life many similar thoughts have struck me, and it's good to know that 1. I am not the only person to have ever thought these things and 2. they can be completely and awesomely hilarious. The character of Stu is who is he is, and I like that there's no real apologies for him, how he acts, or the things he says -- he wasn't gussied up to make him look like a more acceptable novel protagonist. All combined, it made "How to Fail" feel very fresh to me.

At the end of the day, if you're looking for something funny, especially something that is often times crass and vulgar (and I mean that in a good way, I swear), and will make you laugh out loud multiple times during a single metro ride home, get this book.
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on January 3, 2011
This is actually one of the first books I've read in a while. I'm fully literate and all, but most of my reading is limited to news/magazines/Joe Lundardi's latest Bracketology Blog. I got sucked in by the anti-self help concept and gave it a try. I'm really glad I did. The thing I enjoyed most about the book was the uncommon and hilarious perspectives offered by the author. It takes a perceptive/witty/demented mind to offer a lot of these points of view. I will definitely look at some things differently after reading the (mis)adventures of Stuart Fish, and am strongly leaning toward treating any future children I have like garbage (you'll understand if you read the book). Speaking of children, this book is about as child friendly as a Christmas subscription to Hustler, a fact which I enormously enjoyed as I looked over my shoulder to make sure that nobody could see exactly what I was laughing at while I read it. I also have a suspicion that you may think twice about reading this book if you are an ex-girlfriend of the author.

I definitely recommend this book if you're up for some smart laughs and graphic detail of topics that you won't find in many adopted by your wife's book club. I suspect that you'll probably end up stealing some of the observations Stuart makes and claim them as your own at the next wine and cheese party to which you are dragged. Finally, this is my first book read on the iPad version of Kindle. What a pleasure! Nice work on the readability and formatting. After this experience, I might have to take up reading on a more regular basis...
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on March 8, 2012
It's very easy to read this and hate it because of the main character. He's smart and charming but mostly a vain jerk, a conceited slacker, a terrible human being. Basically he's an ... oh wait. Yes this is an amazon review. I think you know what comes next.

It's easy to hate him, but half way through the third chapter a light blinked on. Oh wait a second. Oh yeah. Of course he's a jerk. It's a "Self Hurt Guide". He's not supposed to be emulated. Goldfarb does a brilliant job of walking that edge. You fully empathize with the character. You even like him in a weird way and yet you can't shake the feeling that he's also a really disgusting crappy person. This tension is pulled throughout the entire book. The narrator, Stu Fish, feels like he's just a narrative stand in for the author. You feel as if the author is really just pontificating on how cool he is. And yet the facts just don't add up. You slowly will realize you aren't *supposed* to like Stu Fish. You're supposed to pity him.

Yes this books seems to be getting a lot of reviews about it's language use. This seems really bizarre. It uses very colorful language. It's nothing you wouldn't hear on a typical stand up comedian circuit though. If you've listened to Lewis Black, Chappelle etc, you've heard worse. These aspects of the writing are meant to hit it's point home further.

Additionally to all this interesting tension, the author writes a very sharp observation of people in modern life in a way that hasn't permeated in to many novels yet. Cell phones are the bane of Creative Writing professors. They make life too easy to resolve. Even today, when most people have cellphones that stream HD movies, and can download a weeks worth of music, cellphones, computers, the internet don't make their way into novels. Goldfarb hides little nuggets in his work, like the way you find yourself wasting time reading about stuff on wikipedia becoming a wide keeper of useless facts, or the less respectable uses for a cellphone in a public bathroom.

I'd strongly recommend this book. The only weak part is the epilogue which doesn't maintain quite the same strength in it's thematic content that the rest does. It's easily digestible chapters, almost like little short stories on their own, but you fill probably feel yourself reading much more than one at at time. Like potato chips, they're small, compelling, and addictive. Goldfarb writes on his blog about how shorter stories will become more important in the coming future of e-books. I'm inclined to agree.

Lastly, I'd say I was wary of this book at first. It' runs in those circles that like "publishing" and "help" to begin with the prefix "self". Self help gurus tend to spend their lives writing very successful books about writing successful books but never actually *writing a book*. Goldfarb takes this tone but actually delivers not just on ideas but also on execution.
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on February 29, 2012
Last week, I started reading the book "1776" by Pulitzer Prize winning author, David McCullough. I quit after page 15. I've tried to read this book twice before, and I just can't seem to get into it. I tell myself I need to be more cultured and informed, but I guess I really just want to be entertained.

Reading "How To Fail" was more fun than reading "1776." This might make me a bad American. Or maybe it makes me uncultured, or stupid. To that I would say, "Shut up! I finished reading a book, and that's better than most of the video-game-playing, reality-show-watching idiots I'm surrounded by on a regular basis. They are the stupid ones." Defensive I know. But also true.

Reading "How To Fail" has made me feel better about myself (for not hitting the same level of Fail as Stu, the protagonist), while simultaneously feeling and worse about myself (for not having written a book about failure, or success... or anything for that matter, like Aaron).

Three cheers for reading books! And three cheers for doing a better job at entertaining my incredible mind better than some award-winning history dude.
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