Book Club: Island by Aldous Huxley
Updated: Jul 15
Book Review Score: 10/10
Island is one of my all-time favorite fiction books. It is more a collection of extended thought experiments rather than a novel, I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. The book explores a society built on the best parts of eastern and western cultures, combining them through science and spirituality to create a ‘Utopia’.
It truly is fantastic. Huxley’s writing is amazing, he can paint such a vivid picture in your head while portraying clear messages throughout.
In a gripping and fast-paced start, we meet Will, a journalist who ends up stranded on a Utopia island called Pala. Will meets more and more of the island’s inhabitants and they each begin to teach him different things about their way of life.
The Palanese, the people native to the island are able to appreciate life through awareness of self and their experiences. The Utopian society is based on humanism, rationality, spirituality, and science.
Being present is a crucial part of the Palanese lifestyle, birds fly over the island preaching two messages. “Here and Now boys” and “Attention to Attention”. Reminding the citizens to be aware and in the present moment.
The Palanese also have a healthy relationship with nature and the animals of the island, connecting to the earth through “Moksha Medicine”, which sounds a lot like psychedelic mushrooms.
Huxley gives the most well-articulated account of a psychedelic experience I’ve ever read. In describing a journey that we don’t have any words for, he is able to somehow find the language to describe it.
Island was Aldous Huxley’s final work, written to oppose his dystopian fantasy ‘A Brave New World’. If you are looking for a fascinating, vivid novel with strong messages and thought experiments throughout, I highly recommend this book.
Pick this book up and dive into the world of Pala. You will likely get lost, but you will come back with some powerful messages.
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