Booklists, Digital Reading | February 16, 2022

6 Amazing Books That Bring Order From Chaos


Reading is my favorite way to explore the big questions on my mind. Like many of us, I’ve recently found myself thinking about where our world is headed – and how we show up in that world.

Some of these books are about bringing order out of chaos. Some of these books are about our inner selves and how we make decisions. Several speak to the importance of the natural world in our increasingly cyber-lives. And one of them is just a great story about a likeable criminal in 1950s Harlem – maybe the kind of guy we all secretly want to be 😀 (Or maybe I’m just projecting!)

Sometimes the most powerful way to find our own clarity is by exploring how others experience the world. I hope at least one of these stories does that for you.

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

This is one of the most enchanting, crazy, mind-bending books I’ve read in a long time, and I loved every word of it. On the surface, it’s the biography of David Starr Jordan, a taxonomist who discovered and cataloged 20% of the fish known to man. But it’s so much more: it’s a love story, a memoir, an exploration of the dark side of those who want to bring order to the world. Ultimately, it’s Miller’s search for meaning.

This book feels particularly appropriate today, as many of us continue to try and make sense of our world amidst the ongoing chaos of a global pandemic.

► Read it here.

Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova

Where did I just put my phone? If you’re like me, this simple question fills you with anxiety— and it’s not really about the phone.

Neuroscientist Lisa Genova has written a thorough, approachable, but most of all reassuring book about how we remember and why we forget. The good news: it’s probably not Alzheimer’s. In fact, stressing about this is probably only making it worse, which is why this book is so helpful. By the end of it you’ll have even more respect for the power of your brain… and how memory is so crucial to making order out of chaos.

(Want more good news? Go ahead and Google the answer to the name of that guy in Love, Actually. It’s not going to weaken your mind, and you’ll feel better after.)

► Read it here.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

This book is like time travel– it’s probably the closest most of us will get to experiencing Harlem in the 1950s and 60s. Colson’s entertaining and vibrant writing invites you to see, smell, taste, and touch every corner of the city – the hustle, the culture, and the charm of one Ray Carney.

It’s an absolute joy to read– particularly the final section.  And a reminder of the impermanence of everything, including the very places that shape the people we become.

► Read it here.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam M. Grant 

As a leader, I’ve found the last couple among some of the toughest of my career. With such accelerated change happening around us, I’ve had to embrace uncertainty like never before, and get up close and personal with the things I don’t know. A big part of that was admitting to myself and others that I don’t have all the answers. And realizing leadership can be about knowing when to ask the right questions– particularly when you think you know the answer.

This book is an exploration of intellectual humility and why it matters.  Grant masterfully challenges us to become better thinkers by adopting the mindset of a scientist –  questioning our own beliefs and assumptions in the pursuit of the truth. It’s not easy. But I suspect it’s one of the most important skills we can cultivate in order to grow in our personal and professional lives. 

► Read it here.

The Every by Dave Eggers

If you’ve worked in the tech world, you’ve got to read this book. And if you hate tech with a fiery passion, you’ve got to read this book.

Imagine if Google and Amazon came together to form the biggest company in the world –  The Every. It’s a corporation so pervasive that it monitors and measures every aspect of our lives, telling us how much to sleep at night, how to sharpen our brains, who our true friends are. 

Enter our hero, Delaney Wells, who tries to sabotage The Every from the inside by introducing ever-more-absurd products in the hopes of causing a mass revolt. The problem? People love it even more.

The Every is hilarious, like the HBO show Silicon Valley is hilarious. But it’s disturbing, thought-provoking, and often a bit too close to home.  It made me even more conscious of the responsibility we have at Worldreader to use technology for good.  Hopefully, we’re setting an example– however small– that nudges the world towards the better.

► Read it here

Climate change can be a difficult topic to unpack for any of us, let alone children. This book is a touching reminder that no matter how confusing or foreign the topic might seem, climate change matters enormously for one simple reason  –  we share our home with every other living creature on this planet. 

This beautifully illustrated children’s story follows a little girl’s journey through deserts, rainforests, and oceans as she meets all the creatures she shares her ‘home’ with. Along the way, you realize that our planet is a fragile place, and something we need to protect at all costs. 

► Read this book for free via Worldreader’s BookSmart app here.

Love our recommendations? Get them in your inbox.