The Science/Fiction of Sleep

By Book Moon

By Book Moon

Jorge Luis Borges, the blind (at age 55) Argentinian librarian, liked to quote Arthur Schopenhauer, who said that dreaming and wakefulness are the pages of a single book: “to read them in order is to live, and to leaf through them at random, to dream.”

 

I've collected a list of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that concern themes of sleep, dreams (hopes, desires, as well as literal) and anything in between that point of no return. 

 

I've also included themes on the absence of sleep, how to get it back, the horror insomnia can bring, and its appearance in works of fiction. As one of the more famous insomniacs once said: "Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals. It is a mental torture I find debasing... I simply cannot get used to the nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius."--Vladimir Nabokov.  As a fellow reluctant member, I can't help but agree.

 

Sweet dreams.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip K. Dick

$16.00 $14.72

In a future dystopia where biological life is rare and simulacra take its place (even human life) the test of sentience becomes a dangerous question. Can something non-human become human? And of course, what do we mean when we say "human"?

Labyrinths

Jorge Luis Borges

$15.95 $14.67

Dreams, mirrors, mazes, magic. The stuff of dreams.

Doctor Sleep

Stephen King

$10.99 $10.11

Danny is all grown up and still has "the gift" called the Shine. He tries to use it for good in his adult age, but will he use it to save a little girl who may determine the fate of the world in a fight of good v evil? Not a bad sequel.

In the Dream House: A Memoir

Carmen Maria Machado

$26.00 $23.40

My favorite book of 2019. Maybe my favorite book of the 21st century? And it's a memoir! It's queer and brutal and beautiful and challenging and brilliant. *TW: discusses psychological domestic abuse in great detail

Wanderers

Chuck Wendig

$18.00 $16.56

A dystopic novel on par with King's "The Stand." The plague? Sleepwalkers. "Beautiful and harrowing--and timely as hell."--Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of The Grand Dark

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker

$18.00 $16.56

I discovered this book listening to my favorite podcast, NPR's Fresh Air. Author Matthew Walker warns us of the overlooked importance of proper "sleep hygiene": "sleep deficiency is associated with problems with concentration, memory and the immune system — as well as with shorter lifespans"--NPR's Fresh Air.

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep

Guy Leschziner

$17.99 $16.55

Have problems falling asleep? Staying asleep? Sleep anxiety? Yeah, me too. Stories about when sleep goes wrong: "The Nocturnal Brain combines two of my favorite things -- humanity and medical science. Dr Leschziner weaves wonderful stories that highlight how sleep disorders affect the lives and health of patients and their families. Along the way we are guided into the fantastic science of sleep. What a wonderful journey!" --Meir Kryger MD FRCPC, Professor, Yale University, author of Mystery of Sleep.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Ottessa Moshfegh

$16.00 $14.72

"In flat, deadpan, unembellished prose recalling the cadences of Joan Didion and the clear-eyed candor of Mary Gaitskill, Moshfegh portrays the vacuous interior life (she has virtually no exterior life) of a narcissistic personality simultaneously self-loathing and self-displaying."--NYT Book Review

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

David K. Randall

$15.95 $14.67

"This fabulous book is likely to address any and all questions you might have about sleep.... There's plenty of practical information, like how to overcome insomnia without drugs, how to combat snoring, how to encourage young children to get to sleep and, perhaps most useful, how to bet successfully on professional football games: our circadian rhythms favor West Coast teams over East Coast teams on Monday nights. This is one book that will not put you to sleep."--Bookshop.org

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

$8.00 $7.36

Dreams feature prominently in this Bronte classic.

Dead Astronauts

Jeff VanderMeer

$27.00 $24.30

A sort-of sequel to Vandermeer's "Borne." This entire novel reads like a stream-of-conscious daydream....and sometimes nightmare. If you're ready for some unconventional storytelling and sentence structure, this book will definitely take you to a different world.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

$9.00 $8.28

The eponymous narrator, Jane, is often daydreaming and dreaming, revealing much about her character and symbolism of the story.

Sleep Donation

Karen Russell

$16.00 $14.72

Insomnia is a disease and a complete nightmare as all you insomniacs out there know too well. ". . . [Russell] creates a fully imagined world with its own rituals and rules, and deftly satirizes the media and governmental responses to the plague of sleeplessness. . . . Another testament to her fertile powers of invention." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review

The Manual of Detection

Jedediah Berry

$16.00

Noir dreamworlds. "This debut novel weaves the kind of mannered fantasy that might result if Wes Anderson were to adapt Kafka." --The New Yorker

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka

$11.99 $11.03

A bad dream can result in a real-life nightmare.

The Dreamers

Karen Thompson Walker

$17.00 $15.64

Another pandemic-like end-of-the-world book, this time about people who won't stop sleeping. "An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the bestselling author of The Age of Miracles"--NYT Book Review

1984

George Orwell

$9.99 $9.19

Dreams are used as a major symbol of humanity for the narrator of this Orwellian classic.

The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives

Rosalind D Cartwright

$23.94

If Oliver Sacks were a sleep researcher and therapist, this is the book he'd write: "Cartwright offers an absorbing history of sleep research, at once revealing how far we've come in understanding this vital third of our lives and how much still remains outside our grasp." -- Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

$17.00 $15.64

About the modern American Dream. "[Mbue's] book isn't the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, but it's surely one of the best. . . . It's a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American."--NPR

Many moons ago, Amanda first worked as a bookseller at Buffalo Street Books Co-Op in Ithaca, NY. She’s thrilled to be back among the books, especially here in Easthampton where she’s lived for two years. Amanda holds a B.M. in Music Composition and a minor in English Lit. from Ithaca College. She enjoys all kinds of books but is especially partial to anything involving science fiction, speculative fiction, feminist/LGBTQ themes, and writers of color. She’s a nerd’s nerd and loves being a part of this amazing community of book lovers. Come talk to her about her strange taste in music (jazz fusion, anyone?), books, artsy films, and the Fermi Paradox.