Brave New World [A Book for Ben]

Today, I bring you a new feature. As you know, my husband is an English teacher and a big reader himself. As such, he has strong opinions on what books I should be reading (books that are NOT about teenage vampires). As a compromise, I am allowing him to pick one book each month for me to read. In return, I’ve asked him to tell you a little about why he wanted me to read that particular book. I hope you enjoy the inaugural A Book for Ben post.

Title: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Genre: Classic Dystopian
Year: 1931
My Rating: 3.5/5

What the book is about:

In Aldous Huxley’s “brave new world,” birth is a mechanized, impersonal system designed to create various classes of humans, who are then meant to consume as much as possible. Sex has become purely recreational and people worship Henry Ford rather than God. Bernard Marx doesn’t quite fit into this society and through him we see what might be wrong with this utopia.

Why Ben made me read this:

“For someone who claims to be a fan of dystopian literature, Bave New World was a conspicuous omission on Michelle’s part. But beyond that, I wanted her to read this book for many other reasons. First, it is truly impressive/terrifying how close to reality Huxley comes. Second, I love the Shakespeareiness, especially the references to The Tempest. Third, the debate between truth and happiness is vastly interesting and eternally debatable. And fourth, that last paragraph, so sad and perfect and beautiful.”

What I thought about it:

I don’t think I liked this as much as Ben thought I would. I am glad I read it because I WAS missing this classic dystopian, but I think I should have read it in an academic setting. A little guidance as I read may have given me an extra level of insight that I completely missed.

The most poignant moment for me was the lower-level elevator work desperately wanting to take people to the roof so he could have a moment of freedom. While most people buy into the society they’re a part of, there are moments where we see that people may not be as happy as they’re supposed to be.

I do wonder what Huxley would think of the world that’s come to be. It’s not his Brave New World but there are shared elements I think he’d find fascinating.


8 thoughts on “Brave New World [A Book for Ben]

  1. Kate- Midnight Book Girl February 16, 2012 / 7:40 am

    I did read this during my brief flirtation with college, and what I remember most about reading and discussing this in class was that my professor kind of thought that Brave New World’s society was kind of a good idea, although flawed. But I’ll take freedom over fairness, danger over safety, any day. I have been reading a lot of dystopian lately, so maybe it’s time to give it a re-read!

    Enjoyed the new feature! Looking forward to future ones. 🙂


  2. Jen - Devourerofbooks February 16, 2012 / 7:56 am

    It has been so long since I read this that of don’t remember it very well. What the description reminds of more than anything though is Plato’s Republic.


    • Michelle February 17, 2012 / 8:48 am

      There are a lot of similarities between the world in Brave New World and the one envisioned in The Republic. I hadn’t thought of that before.


  3. rhapsodyinbooks February 16, 2012 / 9:26 am

    I have the same problem with my husband! I don’t know if I’d let him select a book for me though – very brave of you!


  4. Sandy February 16, 2012 / 12:46 pm

    I think I’m going to like this feature! I think it is cool that the two of you have taken on this joint project. Now I’m wondering what my (non-reading) husband would pick for me…


  5. zibilee February 16, 2012 / 1:52 pm

    I read this book in high-school, and don’t really remember a lot of it. That means it’s time for a reread, and I enjoyed both your take on it, and Ben’s. I need to dig this one out of my stash of old books and see what I make of it all these years later. Cool feature today!


  6. Jenny February 17, 2012 / 9:51 am

    When I was a teen, I asked for classics. I was thinking like Jane Austen kind of stuff, and I remember my cousins got me Brave New World. I never did read it. There are probably parts I might not get, but other parts of it sound really good!


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