A lucid dream is when you're aware of what happens in your dream, so you can control it. This phenomenon has inspired some of the most interesting novels.
I’ve always been amazed by the reach of our dreams. Not just me, but many people throughout history have tried to understand all those processes from our brain that go beyond pure logic. Artists, psychologists, musicians, scientists, and, of course, writers have delved into the subject, trying to unveil the core of the functioning of dreams. Perhaps one of the aspects that have intrigued humanity the most regarding the unconscious nature of dreams is the phenomenon known as lucid dreams. You know, those dreams where you’re well aware that you’re sleeping and you’re conscious enough to control exactly what happens in it.
I’ve had pretty vivid dreams that have made me freak out because of how real they feel. However, actually being able to decide the development of my dream is something I've never experienced, and I definitely look forward to it. I had a literature professor back in high school who was really into this phenomenon. He told us there are so many tricks for you to achieve it, like moving your finger in circular motions until you fall asleep, thus tricking your brain so it won't let your conscious part shut down completely. Another thing he suggested was to read about dreams so that you had the idea in your mind. So, if you’re willing to experience this crazy phenomenon, here are some books that can help you reach that state of unconsciousness.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
We’re all familiar with this classic work of literature. We’ve read it as children, watched many of the film adaptations, and even know some of its lines by heart. I’ve always loved it, but it wasn’t until I reread it in my adulthood that I really fell in love with its imagery. This one’s not exactly about lucid dreams, but if you remember well, throughout the story, Alice keeps rambling and trying to find any logic in everything that surrounds her, to the point that she realizes everything must be part of a dream. She can’t really control what happens, but she’s pretty much aware that this can only happen in the realm of the unconscious.
The Great Victorian Collection by Brian Moore (1975)
What if your greatest dream actually happened? It would be the best thing ever, doesn’t it? Well, in this novel Moore explores that connection between the realm of dreams and reality when the protagonist, Andrew Maloney, dreams that outside his hotel an open market sells the most amazing collection of Victorian objects, like furniture, paintings, jewelry, tapestries, and anything you can imagine. Being such an enthusiast of this period, he wakes up suddenly, only to discover that he can actually spot the market throughout his room's window. The novel merges quite well both the realms of the unconscious and the conscious to create a fantastic and surreal narrative.
The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin (1971)
Ursula K. Le Guin is probably one of the best science fiction writers of all times, and as you can imagine, the realm of the mind and the dreams is something that can offer great narratives for the genre. In her novel, George Orr, the protagonist, is an illustrator that has been abusing drugs to avoid having what they call “effective dreams,” which are those that can actually change reality. Desperate, he decides to visit a psychotherapist. But as the novel progresses, we realize that this therapist's intentions are way darker than what George is experimenting. The therapist, William Haber, actually decides to take this man’s powers for his own benefit and induces him to dream about things that will him into the most powerful human being alive.
The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny (1966)
Remaining in the realm of science fiction, we have Roger Zelazny’s masterpiece, The Dream Master. Set in the future, the novel tells the story of Charles Render, a psychoanalyst, or as the novel calls him, a dream shaper. Through technological devices, he is able to plug his patients into a machine where he can control their dreams and make adjustments to heal them. He meets Eileen Shallot, a resident in psychiatry whose dream is to become a shaper just like Render. Her main motive is being able to explore through dreams a reality she hasn't been able to see due to her birth blindness. Both will take an interesting yet frightening journey to the land of the unconscious, where logic no longer exists.
Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui (1993)
Finally, we have Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel, which has been an inspiration for many films and a manga. It’s set in a future where monitoring dreams has become a treatment for mental disorders and a fashionable branch of psychotherapy. The protagonist, Atsuko Chiba, a brilliant researcher considered one of the most prominent scientists of his generation, creates an alter-ego he calls Paprika to infiltrate into the dreams of others. He helps his friend Kōsaku Tokita to create a miniature version of the equipment used at the institute where Chiba works, but when it’s stolen, he desperately will try to get it back so that others won’t use it as a way to control others' minds.
These novels might not explore the phenomenon of lucid dreams in a literal way, but as you can see, they focus on that merging between reality and the unconscious that has intrigued humanity since immemorial times. Moreover, if my professor’s theories are right, these can be the best choice to boost your next lucid dreams.
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Images by @melaniabrescia