People have always speculated on the nature of life, and on how living things differ from inanimate objects. In The Web of Life
Fritjof Capra approaches the question using some of the new scientific ideas which have arisen in the last few decades such as chaos and complexity theory. He identifies the need to find the structure, pattern and process involved in living things. Structure is based on dissipative structures, as described by Ilya Prigogene . Capra's ideas for pattern and process are based on those of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, with pattern arising from autopoesis, and cognition being the process of life.
However, I felt that Capra's approach is too wide, resulting in a rather rambling book. It sometimes seems that he is just trying to include anything which happens to be trendy, and at the same time including some pretty weak criticism of things which he feels to be too 'establishment', such as artificial intelligence. If you don't mind this sort of jumble of ideas then you might enjoy read this book, but my feeling is that most readers would do better to go for books written by those involved in the original research such as Prigogene, Lovelock and Margulis.