The laws of physics tell us that everything moves toward disorder, and yet, we cling so hard to keeping things together. Ourselves, our houses, our cars, but, without our hard work all those things would turn to decay. It’s a scary thought that ultimately ends in our death, so no wonder we work so hard against it, but here is a list curated by economist and author Tim Harford, that recommends books that rejoice in the inevitable chaos of life.
1. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
This biography of Martin Luther King Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1989. It is a careful and curious look at the man who played such a defining role in America’s Civil Rights movement. While this novel definitely doesn’t end in destruction, it certainly details the chaos and uprising it requires to succeed in greatness.
2. The Most Human Human by Brian Christian
The madness of conversation is one we all face every day (even if you just talk to yourself, that counts I swear), but this novel takes a look at structured conversations with artificial intelligence, and how unsettling it is for a computer to bear resemblance to a human. Christian crafts a thought provoking narrative that shows us a competition for the Most Human Computer Award, but, there is also an unnerving award for The Most Human Human.
3. The Everything Store by Brad Stone
I have never spoken with anyone who doesn’t shop at Amazon, so I imagine this book about Amazon’s origins would spark everyone’s interest. An online store that sells everything you could imagine, and at almost incomparable low prices, had to have started in mayhem. Stone takes a close look at the turbulent start of this now world-wide famous website.
4. Two Cheers for Anarchism by James C. Scott
This title is followed by a long subtitle, Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play. Those words describe why Scott makes a defense for viewing your life and world like an anarchist. The book provokes its readers to radically rethink the standard hierarchy in public and private life, so if you pick up this book, the chaos will be in your new perceptions.
5. Improv Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madson
In this pseudo-instructional book, Madson shows her readers how to apply the techniques of improvisational theater to the challenges of everyday life. Madson’s book recognizes the chaos in life, and describes the skills to confront the madness with confidence and a sense of humor.
6. How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand
Untenanted and outdated buildings are the ultimate representation of how everything moves toward destruction. Buildings require a lot of maintenance to keep them from deteriorating, and in this novel, Brand explores how buildings can actually improve with time, if we adopt a new way of taking care of them.
7. Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford
Of course, Tim Harford wouldn’t include his own book on his list, but our list would be remiss without it. Harford uses research and real-life examples to compel his readers to believe that mess goes hand in hand with valuable traits like creativity, responsiveness, and resilience. One you don’t want to miss!
This list has shown me that humans are always hard at work to avoid destructive ends. These books may rejoice in chaos, but they also rejoice in the order and settled results of working against disorder. Harford, however, urges us to work against our own inclinations toward tidiness and structure, and embrace the mess.
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Featured image via Pixabay
h/t The Week