An Island to Oneself Info

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Thomas Francis "Tom" Neale (November 6, 1902 - November 27,
1977)[1] was a New Zealander bushcraft and survival enthusiast who spent
much of his life in the Cook Islands and 16 years in three sessions
living alone on the island of Anchorage in the Suwarrow atoll, which was
the basis of this autobiography.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.65

810 Ratings

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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for An Island to Oneself:

5

Dec 27, 2009

You don't have to be a sailor to love this book because it isn't really about sailing. It's about being comfortable being completely alone, and surviving without a grocery store a doctor or a dentist for hundreds of miles. Tom Neale was an amazing guy and he tells an amazing story of what it is truly like to live alone on a tropical island. I desperately wanted to stop at his island (Suvorov) on our way from Bora Bora to American Samoa, but unfortunately there was a dengue fever outbreak amongst You don't have to be a sailor to love this book because it isn't really about sailing. It's about being comfortable being completely alone, and surviving without a grocery store a doctor or a dentist for hundreds of miles. Tom Neale was an amazing guy and he tells an amazing story of what it is truly like to live alone on a tropical island. I desperately wanted to stop at his island (Suvorov) on our way from Bora Bora to American Samoa, but unfortunately there was a dengue fever outbreak amongst the crews of the sailboats already there so we had to pass it by. So Suvorov will have to exist only in my mind as described by Tom Neale.

UPDATE: An opportunity presented itself to perhaps have another go at Suvorov (or Suwarrow as the Cook Islander now call it). A friend wanted me to help him sail his boat to Samoa from Tahiti. I agreed to go if we could stop at Suvorov. It's an amazing place, and although I have visited dozens of other Pacific atolls, this one is special, because of its history and because of its remoteness. Tom's old radio shack is still there and there is also a bust of him on the trail from the beach to the park rangers' headquarters (two Cook Islanders are now always there during the cruising season). If you're headed there, you must, must read his book. ...more
5

Jul 27, 2010

To me this was a life changing book. It is told in first person format about how Tom Neale went to live on an uninhabited island in the Suvorov Atoll. He felt that his whole life was leading to that purpose and then he was finally able to do it in his 50's, in the 1950's. This island was not on a trade route but was an outpost at one point during WWII where a lookout was kept. After the war, all that was really left was a shack and a couple rustic outbuildings. This was Tom Neale's home. The To me this was a life changing book. It is told in first person format about how Tom Neale went to live on an uninhabited island in the Suvorov Atoll. He felt that his whole life was leading to that purpose and then he was finally able to do it in his 50's, in the 1950's. This island was not on a trade route but was an outpost at one point during WWII where a lookout was kept. After the war, all that was really left was a shack and a couple rustic outbuildings. This was Tom Neale's home. The book talks about the preparation, the experiences on the island and all the trials and successes that went along with it. The book made me wish I could have met the man who had such perfect insight into what he should do with his life. Make no mistake, this was not some crazy hermit. He was a New Zealand Navy man who after his time in the military worked in the Pacific Islands. He practiced 'batch' living which essentially meant he depended on no one for what he needed. He knew how to do just about everything and was able to apply that to island living. Reading about his daily life, everything from fishing, to creating a garden to surviving 5 hours in the ocean when his small boat capsized drew me in. It will be one of the books that has a permanent place on my nightstand. ...more
4

Aug 02, 2007

Island of Desire
Terrific book for would-be hermits or just those of us who long for solitude. Neale spent years in the South Pacific dreaming of finding a deserted island before he finally took the plunge, so he had plenty of time to prepare. Still, there were all manner of unexpected setbacks and challenges to face, including a severe bout with fever and an epic storm.

One thing I particularly liked about Neale was how doggedly he clung to his dream. While living an unfulfilling life as a Island of Desire
Terrific book for would-be hermits or just those of us who long for solitude. Neale spent years in the South Pacific dreaming of finding a deserted island before he finally took the plunge, so he had plenty of time to prepare. Still, there were all manner of unexpected setbacks and challenges to face, including a severe bout with fever and an epic storm.

One thing I particularly liked about Neale was how doggedly he clung to his dream. While living an unfulfilling life as a shopkeeper in the Pacific, he became enamored with the idea of one particular islet, Motu Tuo. He dreamed about it for years, and obsessively sought out information about it, even paying a brief and inspirational visit to it at one point.

He clung to his idée fixe for seven years before he had the chance to act on it. He was fifty when he moved to his island, and considering that he was truly on his own for the next six years, completely cut off from the outside world, his feat seems even more impressive. His soujourn took place during the early 1950s, before such conveniences as cell phones and GPS locators, so there wasn't really any safety net for him. On the occasions when he was ill or injured, he really had to keep his wits about him to survive.

Writing in a straightforward and honest manner, Neale recounts his bouts of loneliness, daily routines, irritations, struggles, and fixations. Obviously a man who enjoyed a challenge, his character and quirks come through in this highly readable, almost breezy account. If you've ever casually wondered how YOU would fare on a desert island, then this book might give you something concrete to think about. ...more
5

Jul 27, 2012

Really compelling story of Tom Neale, who marooned himself on a desert island in the South Pacific and made it his home for more than six years. The book covers Neale's first two stays on the island as he battled the jungle, established a garden, a fowl run and tried to put aside the need for companionship and living by the clock. His story is warm and engrossing, making this quick read a book to remember.
0

Dec 22, 2014

I want to go to Suvarov!! this is probably the only possible idea jumping into my mind regarding commenting this masterpiece!!
4

Apr 06, 2018

An autobiography from a different time and place with insights on the psychology of isolation and the joys and challenges of living alone in the South Pacific.
5

Mar 12, 2010

My favorite book of all time. Certainly not a literary masterpiece, but it's my kind of adventure!
3

Dec 08, 2014

Tom was a man with a dream who went straight for it with the tools he had. Unpretencious, basic, one of my favourite books!
4

Jan 18, 2010

Ever wanted to move to a deserted island alone? This guy did, and makes a pretty convincing argument for it. Very good, but there was not enough "action" to make it great.
5

Jun 13, 2011

One of my favorite books of all time..don't know why, just is....
5

Mar 23, 2009

Couldn't find this one anywhere so I ordered it from Amazon. If you've ever wished you could retreat from your hectic lifestyle and find a calmer existance this is the book to read. What an adventure! Wonderful!
5

Jul 09, 2013

Tom Neale decided to live on an island by himself in the South Pacific. He managed to do so for about 20 years. This book was written after the first 10 years. It is interesting to read about how he did it. Plus who doesn't love beautiful islands? It is definitely a fun read.
5

Mar 09, 2018

Engaging story about a man who longed to leave civilization behind, although he could not explain why, and how he survived (happily!) completely on his own devices. I enjoyed how well he described life on his own, and his inventiveness in replacing the comforts of modern living.
5

Apr 24, 2013

Going in I knew I was going to rate this book 5 stars. This is my kind of story. Someone who knows what needs to be done and goes out and figures out a way to do it on their own. There's not much excitement. Just a simple book explaining how to live life on your own. I really want my deserted island now.
4

Aug 31, 2012

What a great book. My cousin recommended it and I have to say I really did enjoy this book. Amazing reading about surviving on an island for years by oneself with very little. He did have a head start in that some things were already on the island, but still very amazing. Even not being sure about some of the things he talked about as he is/was from New Zealand the story was still great and very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation cousin Karen. :-)
5

Dec 25, 2017

Now what to say about this book which might be my favourite book of all the huge amount of books I have read during my lifetime? It's a very charming book which tells about a man who had a dream for a long time and who went for it. This book is a lot about solitude even though writing style is such that it doesn't reveal much at all about author's inner thoughts and feelings. Those he kept for himself but even the practical preparations and daily life of his on the island was enough for me to Now what to say about this book which might be my favourite book of all the huge amount of books I have read during my lifetime? It's a very charming book which tells about a man who had a dream for a long time and who went for it. This book is a lot about solitude even though writing style is such that it doesn't reveal much at all about author's inner thoughts and feelings. Those he kept for himself but even the practical preparations and daily life of his on the island was enough for me to enjoy this book tremendously and keep reading it again and again every now and then. The story is the one so many of us can only dream of. ...more
5

Oct 28, 2014

I read this long ago while visiting the Cook Islands (Rarotonga and Aituktaki) and loved it. It's the story of man versus nature. (Spoiler alert: man wins.) Tom Neale is a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, ever resourceful and highly independent. He writes with modesty, humor, and grace.

One unforgettable scene: when a friendly sailing yacht departs Neale's island after a visit of several days, Neale stands on the beach waving goodbye. His emotions at that moment are a mix of affection (he sincerely I read this long ago while visiting the Cook Islands (Rarotonga and Aituktaki) and loved it. It's the story of man versus nature. (Spoiler alert: man wins.) Tom Neale is a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, ever resourceful and highly independent. He writes with modesty, humor, and grace.

One unforgettable scene: when a friendly sailing yacht departs Neale's island after a visit of several days, Neale stands on the beach waving goodbye. His emotions at that moment are a mix of affection (he sincerely liked his visitors) and relief (he sincerely wants his solitude back).

Reading "An Island to Oneself" while on an island in the South Pacific made it magical. ...more
5

Feb 11, 2012

I'm on a desert-island-book kick at the moment, so when I saw this was available for free, I grabbed it.

I really liked this. It's not an overly long book, but it's well written and in a way a complete opposite to the last book I read of this type, Castaway. The one thing that really stands out is just how happy he is on the island.

There's no real hardships apart from a couple of bouts of fever and a rather poor diet, and even after 14 months alone he's still happy and content, but that adds to I'm on a desert-island-book kick at the moment, so when I saw this was available for free, I grabbed it.

I really liked this. It's not an overly long book, but it's well written and in a way a complete opposite to the last book I read of this type, Castaway. The one thing that really stands out is just how happy he is on the island.

There's no real hardships apart from a couple of bouts of fever and a rather poor diet, and even after 14 months alone he's still happy and content, but that adds to the atmosphere, and when he has to leave you can truly sympathise with him.

This is one of those books that's really worth reading ...more
5

Sep 08, 2013

I love this book. Tom Neale's decision to live for years on deserted island by himself is one of the boldest, weirdest feats I've ever heard of. Going Robinson Crusoe on purpose seems to me even more audacious than the acts of bravery I usually read about -- climbing Everest, sailing solo around the world, surviving shipwrecks, etc. A more delightful loner you'll never meet. At least on the pages of this book. When I stopped to think about how Neale had parents and (a quick search reveals) a I love this book. Tom Neale's decision to live for years on deserted island by himself is one of the boldest, weirdest feats I've ever heard of. Going Robinson Crusoe on purpose seems to me even more audacious than the acts of bravery I usually read about -- climbing Everest, sailing solo around the world, surviving shipwrecks, etc. A more delightful loner you'll never meet. At least on the pages of this book. When I stopped to think about how Neale had parents and (a quick search reveals) a wife and kids, it almost broke his charming spell. Almost. I still love his idea of having an island to oneself, even if I want it only for a week. ...more
4

Apr 11, 2016

This was an excellent easy read. Neale's adventures are engrossing and inspiring because of how simple and in reach they seem, while still being incredibly exotic and aspirational for us stuck in the 9-5 grind. He talks about his years grinding away in his job as a shopkeeper, before finally throwing it all away and retreating to an abandoned island.

He keeps the book lively with just the right amount of detail in his anecdotes to make them interesting and answering the reader's questions without This was an excellent easy read. Neale's adventures are engrossing and inspiring because of how simple and in reach they seem, while still being incredibly exotic and aspirational for us stuck in the 9-5 grind. He talks about his years grinding away in his job as a shopkeeper, before finally throwing it all away and retreating to an abandoned island.

He keeps the book lively with just the right amount of detail in his anecdotes to make them interesting and answering the reader's questions without getting too bound up in the day-to-day details that could make this a boring read. This book was inspirational and triggers in the reader (or at least it did for me) a bout of introspection on how our lives are spent and how we choose our priorities and way of life, often without even thinking about it. ...more
4

Dec 20, 2016

While I haven’t read that many, I absolutely love “desert island” novels, and this seemed like it would be an very interesting read, and particularly close to home since Tom was from New Zealand like myself.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There were times when it got a little bit bogged down in minutiae, but on the flip side there were some fascinating details that only living it could really give you.

Tom had some really great survival skills, and I think they certainly helped him in being While I haven’t read that many, I absolutely love “desert island” novels, and this seemed like it would be an very interesting read, and particularly close to home since Tom was from New Zealand like myself.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There were times when it got a little bit bogged down in minutiae, but on the flip side there were some fascinating details that only living it could really give you.

Tom had some really great survival skills, and I think they certainly helped him in being able to live in isolation for so long, but the book was quite as “survivalist” as I was kind of hoping. Tom went to the island with a whole lot of “stuff”, so he was kind of bringing a lot of civilisation with him rather than solely relying on what the island could offer him.

All and all, a really fascinating read, and the writing was surprisingly good.
...more
4

Feb 16, 2010

Life is stranger than fiction. No really! It is. This is one man's story about pretty much every little boy's dream of living alone on a desert island where he builds a shelter and hunts for fish.

Tom Neale didn't wash up on the island, he went there willingly like Thoreau did to his pond at Walden. Neale is from New Zealand but travelled the islands of the pacific for many years.

This is a great adventure book. It's stranger than fiction. The Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" has nothing on the drama Life is stranger than fiction. No really! It is. This is one man's story about pretty much every little boy's dream of living alone on a desert island where he builds a shelter and hunts for fish.

Tom Neale didn't wash up on the island, he went there willingly like Thoreau did to his pond at Walden. Neale is from New Zealand but travelled the islands of the pacific for many years.

This is a great adventure book. It's stranger than fiction. The Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" has nothing on the drama Neale faces on this island. There are hurricanes, pigs, castaways, injuries and visitors from abroad. There's really never a dull moment.

I wonder if anyone owns the movie rights to this story. It would make a great movie. Maybe it's too soon since "Cast Away" but Tom Neale really gives Tom Hanks a run for his money.

Neale was on the island during two different stays, from 1952-1956 and 1960-1964. He also came back in 1967 but this isn't detailed in the book. ...more
4

Feb 20, 2019

I had initially heard about this book a while back, and it was the premise, that this man had spent years by himself on an uninhabited island, that got me interested in it, and now that I've finally read it, there was more to it than just that. There's something admirable in the way Tom eschews modern life and gets away from it all, and you can tell from the text how freeing it was for him, but I think it was his choice of solitude that was what I really liked about it. Here was someone who I had initially heard about this book a while back, and it was the premise, that this man had spent years by himself on an uninhabited island, that got me interested in it, and now that I've finally read it, there was more to it than just that. There's something admirable in the way Tom eschews modern life and gets away from it all, and you can tell from the text how freeing it was for him, but I think it was his choice of solitude that was what I really liked about it. Here was someone who though he was alone, was never lonely, and was able to live some of the best years of his life in it: solitude as a state of being rather than something to be avoided, and it also wasn't like he disliked people.

He is actually a decent writer too, and everything in the book flows well and is interesting to read about, from his preparations and mindset going in to the daily chores he had to do on the island. ...more
3

Jun 06, 2008

Written by New Zealander Tom Neale, this book was about Neale's time spent on a desert island for about 17 years. Not a hermit or recluse, Neale was just someone who dreamed of living on a desert island, and that dream came true for him at the age of 50. While most people that age are not even remotely thinking of doing such a thing, Neale did so and seemingly never regretted it. His years on the island were interrupted by a few trips back to the mainland mostly for health reasons, but Neale Written by New Zealander Tom Neale, this book was about Neale's time spent on a desert island for about 17 years. Not a hermit or recluse, Neale was just someone who dreamed of living on a desert island, and that dream came true for him at the age of 50. While most people that age are not even remotely thinking of doing such a thing, Neale did so and seemingly never regretted it. His years on the island were interrupted by a few trips back to the mainland mostly for health reasons, but Neale always returned to what I suspect felt more like home to him than the mainland. One trip back to civilization though, was not so much for health reasons as it was his advancing age and his desire to not face one thing alone -- death. This in fact is where the book ends, but it was not to be the end of the story. Thanks to two postscripts at the end of the book, a little more light is shed on the story. Bitten by the bug of living alone, Neale actually did return to the island one last time. Although there were several words here and there that are totally foreign to the English reader, one is able to make sense of what they are reading and get the main gist of the book. ...more
4

Dec 26, 2013

I live close to the Rideau Trail here in Ontario, and when I got laid off from my job, nearly four years ago, I briefly felt the urge to just throw some things in a backpack and start walking. Then common sense reasserted itself, since I don't have camping gear, or even the right kind of boots, to be doing that in March. Still, it was a tempting thought.

And one that I think Tom Neale would have completely understood. The sort of man who would set out to live alone on a small island in the South I live close to the Rideau Trail here in Ontario, and when I got laid off from my job, nearly four years ago, I briefly felt the urge to just throw some things in a backpack and start walking. Then common sense reasserted itself, since I don't have camping gear, or even the right kind of boots, to be doing that in March. Still, it was a tempting thought.

And one that I think Tom Neale would have completely understood. The sort of man who would set out to live alone on a small island in the South Pacific (although with a lot a preparation) for years would understand that urge.

He covers his life before then in light detail, but enough that you could believe his stories. He spent two years out there until an injury forced him to accept a ride back to 'civilisation'. Then it took six years to get around official interference to go back. He spent another few years out there until he realized that he was getting old enough that he didn't want to die alone out there.

The details of his life on the island - including dealing with nutritional deficiencies when he overworked himself on his first sojourn (six months spent building a pier that was promptly destroyed by a storm), attempts to tame a wild duck, the hunting of the wild pigs that would destroy any attempts of creating a garden, pollinating vegetable plants on an island without bees, and so on - left me wishing I could do the same. As long as I could bring a large enough library with me.

According to Wikipedia, Tom Neale did actually go back for a third stay that ended in 1977, and a number of other people lived in his cabin there between his second and third stays. After his third stay, it was declared a National Park by the Cook Islands, and caretakers live there to this day ...more

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