Consciousness in a Nutshell

A Psychonautical Odyssey

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
458 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2022
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Author Biography

JAY NELSON is a writer, researcher, and award-winning screenwriter obsessed with three questions: (i) What is consciousness? (ii) Is there an edge of experience? And (iii) How best to explain ecological awareness? After originally getting his start in acting, Jay soon found a love for psychology and explaining the human mind. But after a near-death-experience realigned all of his perceptions in 2013, he started moonlighting in neuroscience, philosophy, and evolutionary biology. He has been called a philosopher, a shaman, and a man of science. But, by his own description, he’s a “moderately well-read person who wants to test the limits of human perception.” You can find him online at

LINDY NELSON is a lifelong student of what makes a human a human. She has always believed that we are more alike than we are different, and is forever on the journey towards a better understanding of how to share that knowledge. From managing escape rooms to restaurants, film sets to corporate offices, she is adept at seeing all of the pieces that make up the whole. She leads with patience and the mantra that we should each use what we have to improve where we can.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Consciousness in a Nutshell by Jay Nelson and Lindy Nelson is a powerful creative nonfiction book in the guise of a memoir. It delves deep into psychonautical explorations that address consciousness and what it means to be alive. It is one of those rare, brilliant books that use the technique and literary elements of poets, playwrights, and fiction writers to present a nonfiction narrative. Two young neuropsychopharmacologists, James and Ava, are on the brink of publishing a major breakthrough to do with understanding the subject of consciousness. But Ava disappears, and James finds himself trapped in a kind of place that no one would wish even upon their worst enemy. The narrative is divided into four parts where everything is constructed with momentum in mind, particularly about the brain, from its characteristics to the hard problem of consciousness.

You don’t have to be an expert in multimodal conversations that span different fields in the arts and sciences to enjoy Consciousness in a Nutshell. While the perspective of the narrative shifts from time to time, James remains as the faithful narrator, who diligently walks you through the story of his research and how he came to understand the subject of consciousness. If Umberto Eco is considered the most important representative of semiotics, Jay Nelson and Lindy Nelson may well become the same for psychonautical studies. Using their creativity and intelligence, their collaboration in this work could be labeled as a kind of modernist enlightenment in the fusion of psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and evolutionary biology. It’s a treasure house of information written in a non-intimidating style that allows any layman to understand the nature and being of consciousness from its physical, neural, cognitive, and representational aspects. Highly recommended.