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Three Essential Books to Understand Our Modern Disorienting World

open books on white surface

Economist Tyler Cowen, calls books that fundamentally alter your perspective “quake books.” They are books that make you rethink your view of the world. Here are three books that fit this description:

  • After Virtue, Alasdair by Alasdair MacIntyre
  • The Triumph of the Therapeutic by Philip Rieff
  • A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

The main aim of these 3 books is to describe and explain what it means to live in the modern world. They try to answer important questions: How do modern humans find meaning in a world of declining religious belief and a vanishing sense of transcendence? What are the consequences of living in a culture that lacks a shared moral code? Why does modernity feel so confusing and flat? 

For sure these books are not easy to read, but they are worth to. You’ll even probably need to read them twice (or more) to grasp their authors’ arguments.

While all of these books are more descriptive than prescriptive — they help to understand how and why the modern world is set up and experienced as it is. Books don’t give any solutions to its particular quandaries — gaining a greater conceptual and perceptual framework for understanding and navigating this often weird modern world of ours is extremely helpful.

If you’ve ever felt tired and lost in the 21st century, we do recommend picking up a copy of each of these books.

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