9 Books That Explain How the World Works

Mark Manson

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T he proliferation of content in the internet age has turned our attention into a rare commodity. Every day, every hour, every minute, we are bombarded with information. This is not doing us any good.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article exhorting us to reclaim our attention, to take back control, to choose better sources of information and not be enslaved to the internet.

One of my recommendations in the article was to ditch short-form content like social media and bite-sized news, and instead opt for longer-form content like books and podcasts — anything that takes a long time to consume.

After that article was published, a number of you emailed to ask what books to read. Honestly, any book is better than mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed. But here are nine in particular that will not only help you reclaim your attention, but also teach you about the world in the process.

You’re welcome.

1. WHY INFORMATION GROWS

BY CÉSAR HIDALGO

I saw Why Information Grows referenced in Harari’s Homo Deus (discussed below) as a good explanation of what Harari calls “Data-ism:” a new quasi-religion arising around big data and global connectivity.

Hidalgo starts with a fascinating question: in a universe dictated by entropy, how does order arise and maintain itself, much less increase exponentially? One could look at life itself as merely the emergence of a self-directing order in a vast sea of inanimate, random matter. So where does this order come from?

Hidalgo, early on, makes the point that the Earth is the only place in the known universe where information both thrives and expands at rapid rates. That we are the equivalent of a black hole of order — a rare phenomenon where information approaches infinity and order expands seemingly endlessly.

The second half of the book then looks at calculating information and processing power across the world and attempts to explain global economic dynamics based on the amount of information…

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Mark Manson

Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.