The Advantage of Being Useless, by George Sweet is one of my favourite books. The headlining tale is one of Chung Tzu’s goodies:
A sage, in rambling about the heights of Shang, saw a large and
extraordinary tree. The teams of a thousand chariots might be sheltered
under it , and its shade would cover them all! Said the sage, “What a
tree this is! It must contain an extraordinary amount of timber!”
The sage looked up at the smaller branches and saw they were so twisted
and crooked that they could not be made in rafters and beams. At the
roots its stem was divided into so many rounded potions that neither
coffins nor shell could be made from them. Licking one of the leaves
left the mouth feeling torn and wounded. The small of it would make one
frantic, as if intoxicate, for three whole days together.
“This indeed is a tree good for nothing, and it is thus that it has
reach so great an age.”
The cinnamon tree can be eaten, and there is cut down.
The varnish tree is useful, and therefore incisions are made in it.
All know the advantage of being useful, but no one knows the advantage
of being useless.
– Chuang Tzu.