The best utopian books 📚

Browse the best books on utopian as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Utopia

Utopia

By Thomas More

Why this book?

This is the OG of utopias—written in 1516 about people living on a distant island. Later writers made up utopias set in the future, but More’s island is still fun to read about. A place where there is no private property, no one desires wealth, all citizens are equal, and all religions are tolerated—though there is no privacy (or premarital sex) either. Nobody knows whether More meant it as satire or longing, or even if we should translate u-topia as “no-place” or “good-place.”

From the list:

The best books on utopianism east and west

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Book cover of Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces

Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces

By Davina Cooper

Why this book?

The word, utopia, derives from the Greek terms ou “not” + topos “place”---“no place.” Yet, the idea of a perfect “place” or society is one that has captured the imagination of artists, writers, politicians, and governments for centuries. I really love the concept of “everyday utopias” because it focuses on small, local spaces of joy and pleasure that people create for themselves outside and beyond the boundaries of social norms and expectations. Inherent in the term “utopia” is the impossibility of the idea and yet, readers witness thriving communities that show the possibilities of alternative systems of governance, self-sufficiency, civility,…
From the list:

The best books to inspire good feelings

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Book cover of Ecotopia

Ecotopia

By Ernest Callenbach

Why this book?

Philosopher Ernest Callenbach’s novel originated the ecotopia genre as well as the term itself, pioneering many green ideas, even as basic as sustainability: Callenbach called it “steady-state society”, and imagined some of the radical forms it might take (they’re still radical, alas), weaving them together into a story that is occasionally cringe-worthy (in hindsight, you know) but nonetheless paints a compelling and informative picture of an alternative, thoroughly environmentalist society.

PS. Will Weston, the protagonist, is no relation... though that was my grandfather’s name...

From the list:

The best ecotopian adventures (and misadventures)

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Book cover of Island

Island

By Aldous Huxley

Why this book?

The complete antithesis to Huxley’s much more famous book, Brave New World, this novel depicts the ideal life of an imaginary island, Pala, somewhere in South-East Asia. Huxley seems to have picked up elements from the actual life-ways of islanders in the Asia-Pacific region, rather than do a lot of futuristic fable-building. Economic production, spiritual and ethical values, nature conservation, and other aspects of life are integrated into a harmonious whole which is quite alluring! But though this was written 30 years after Brave New World, Huxley seems not to have completely shaken off that dystopian outlook. The…

From the list:

The best books of utopian fiction

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Book cover of Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes

Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes

By Gerd Brantenberg

Why this book?

There is never enough alternate history. Particularly alternate history that doesn’t focus either on the Nazis winning World War II or the South winning the American Civil War. Thankfully we have Egalia’s Daughters, yet another forward-thinking novel from the seventies. Set in a world where gender norms are swapped around entirely, its male characters wear special testicle bras and adorn their beards with flowers (I do like that last part). Of course, this woman-dominated world is no less homophobic than our own, and as part of their gender rebellion, the men form relationships with one another, in various configurations.…
From the list:

The best novels exploring polyamory and non-traditional love

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Book cover of The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

By Margaret Killjoy

Why this book?

This, and its sequel, is truly one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. It’s a punk rock road trip following Danielle Cain as she struggles to deal with the grief of losing her best friend while also going up against some truly bizarre characters and creatures in a utopian squatter town called Freedom. I loved the raw and unapologetic attitude of the main protagonist and the diversity of the supporting cast. This book is dark and brooding, fun and poignant in equal measure. It’s a paranormal riot and I loved every minute of it, and the follow up called…

From the list:

The best fiction books by trans/non-binary authors with trans/non-binary characters

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