15 Famous Books Inspired by Dreams
One does not have to persistently study the literary canon in order to discover compelling narratives and characters. Turning inward and paying close attention to dreams and nightmares makes for an excellent way for aspirant writers to pull themselves out of creative ruts or get started on a new literary piece. Even before Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung wrote their seminal works on dream and archetype interpretation, some of the most famous and influential people (not just authors, playwrights and poets!) sought inspiration in the dreaming world. The following famous books contain elements inspired either by specific subconscious visuals or the bizarre, convoluted way in which they meander through the mind and senses.
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The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
From Stephenie Meyer’s dreams of a sparkly vampire talking to a puny human woman came the media juggernaut about sparkly vampires and the puny human women who love them. She has yet to mention whether or not the series’ glorification of emotional abuse also came from her nocturnal adventures.
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Much of H.P. Lovecraft’s Works
It probably comes as little shock to anyone even tangentially familiar with the work of horror master H.P. Lovecraft that the man pulled his inspiration from the vivid nightmares he suffered most nights. Any novel or short story featuring the Great Old Ones especially drew from the more twisted corners of his subconscious.
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Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Though no definitive answers exist regarding whether or not John Bunyan launched the classic Pilgrim’s Progress because of his dreams, he certainly pulled plenty of inspiration from their structure. So while nobody knows for certain, the fact that he so diligently paid attention to how they operated in order to pen his unearthly prose still earns him a place on this list.
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
As with most of H.P. Lovecraft’s terrifying tales, this horror classic also sprang into existence because of its writer’s graphic nightmares. In this case, a “fine bogey tale” tormenting him as he slept grew into one of the most famous and genuinely scary English-language novels ever penned — most especially considering its all-too-human antagonist and protagonist.
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Misery by Stephen King
Another visceral, memorable novel revolving around humanity’s ugliest tendencies unsurprisingly popped straight from respected author Stephen King’s sleeping life. While dozing off on a flight to London, he found inspiration in a chilling nightmare about a crazed woman killing and mutilating a favorite writer and binding a book in his skin. The final product, of course, came out just a little bit different.
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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Following the death of her and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s daughter at only 12 days old, the heartbroken Mary Wollstonecroft Godwin dreamt of the child coming back to life after massaging her near a fire. She wrote of it in the collaborative journal she kept with her poet lover (later husband), and most literary critics believe it later grew into one of the most iconic, influential horror novels of all time.
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Stuart Little by E.B. White
One of the most memorable and beloved characters from children’s literature sauntered into E.B. White’s subconscious in the 1920s, though he didn’t transition from notes to novel until over two decades later. From there, the tiny boy with the face and fur of a mouse became a classic that continues to delight both adults and kids even today.
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Much of Edgar Allan Poe’s Works
Though separating fact from fiction when it comes to Edgar Allan Poe’s internal life remains a difficult task, most literary critics believe his legendary, hallucinatory poems and short stories stemmed from troubled nightmares. Considering how frequently dreams and dreamlike imagery and structure crop up in his oeuvre, it’s a more than safe assumption.
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Part of the eponymous character’s personal arc stems from her highly detailed dreams, both asleep and diurnal slips in and out of consciousness. Though she may not have necessarily pulled inspiration from her own personal dreams, Charlotte Bronte wielded the common literary device of prophetic, subconscious visions, carefully aping their real-life hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness structure.
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Fantasia of the Unconscious by D.H. Lawrence
Really, most of D.H. Lawrence’s more lilting, dreamlike works such as Women in Love could qualify for inclusion here. However, Fantasia of the Unconscious so perfectly maps out such experiences and explains their importance and inspiration in such great detail it edges out any other competing works.
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Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac
Everything readers need to know about this novel comes straight from the title. Beat poster boy Jack Kerouac kept and published a book comprised entirely of his dreams, spanning from 1952 to 1960 and starring characters from many of his other works.
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Considering the heavy spiritual and philosophical core of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it probably comes as little surprise that it initially sprung from Richard Bach’s daydreams of a drifting seabird. Interestingly enough, he could only finish the original draft following another series of subconscious visions!
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The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P by Reiko Matsuura
Though available in English and enjoying cult rather than mainstream attention, the novel of a woman who wakes up with a penis for a toe became a bestseller in its native Japan. Her incredibly original premise, meant to explore gender identity and relations, came to her through a most unusual dream she eventually adapted into a favored work of fiction.
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Twelve Stories and a Dream by H.G. Wells
“A Dream of Armageddon,” specifically, though some claim that many of H.G. Wells’ other classic science-fiction works likely sprouted partially from his dream life. As the title describes, this harrowing work speculates on the dangerous directions in which mankind’s technology could ultimately lead it.
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“Kubla Khan” from Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
One of the most famous examples of dream-inspired literature, the famous poem — printed in the book Christabel – wafted into Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s brain from a combination of sleep and opium. One of his most beloved works, he described it as a “fragment” rather than a whole, though most critics these days analyze it as the latter.
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13 Words You Probably Didn’t Know Were Coined By Authors
If you’re not a fan of his books then it’s probably no surprise that Charles Dickens is credited with inventing the word boredom in his classic 1853 novel Bleak Read More…
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Free books: 100 legal sites to download literature
Browse works by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and other famous authors here.
- Classic Bookshelf: This site has put classic novels online, from Charles Dickens to Charlotte Bronte.
- The Online Books Page: The University of Pennsylvania hosts this book search and database.
- Project Gutenberg: This famous site has over 27,000 free books online.
- Page by Page Books: Find books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, as well as speeches from George W. Bush on this site.
- Classic Book Library: Genres here include historical fiction, history, science fiction, mystery, romance and children’s literature, but they’re all classics.
- Classic Reader: Here you can read Shakespeare, young adult fiction and more.
- Read Print: From George Orwell to Alexandre Dumas to George Eliot to Charles Darwin, this online library is stocked with the best classics.
- Planet eBook: Download free classic literature titles here, from Dostoevsky to D.H. Lawrence to Joseph Conrad.
- The Spectator Project: Montclair State University’s project features full-text, online versions of The Spectator and The Tatler.
- Bibliomania: This site has more than 2,000 classic texts, plus study guides and reference books.
- Online Library of Literature: Find full and unabridged texts of classic literature, including the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain and more.
- Bartleby: Bartleby has much more than just the classics, but its collection of anthologies and other important novels made it famous.
- Fiction.us: Fiction.us has a huge selection of novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Flaubert, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
- Free Classic Literature: Find British authors like Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus other authors like Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and more.
If you don’t absolutely need to pay for your textbooks, save yourself a few hundred dollars by reviewing these sites.
- Textbook Revolution: Find biology, business, engineering, mathematics and world history textbooks here.
- Wikibooks: From cookbooks to the computing department, find instructional and educational materials here.
- KnowThis Free Online Textbooks: Get directed to stats textbooks and more.
- Online Medical Textbooks: Find books about plastic surgery, anatomy and more here.
- Online Science and Math Textbooks: Access biochemistry, chemistry, aeronautics, medical manuals and other textbooks here.
- MIT Open Courseware Supplemental Resources: Find free videos, textbooks and more on the subjects of mechanical engineering, mathematics, chemistry and more.
- Flat World Knowledge: This innovative site has created an open college textbooks platform that will launch in January 2009.
- Free Business Textbooks: Find free books to go along with accounting, economics and other business classes.
- Light and Matter: Here you can access open source physics textbooks.
- eMedicine: This project from WebMD is continuously updated and has articles and references on surgery, pediatrics and more.
Math and Science
Turn to this list to find books about math, science, engineering and technology.
- FullBooks.com: This site has “thousands of full-text free books,” including a large amount of scientific essays and books.
- Free online textbooks, lecture notes, tutorials and videos on mathematics: NYU links to several free resources for math students.
- Online Mathematics Texts: Here you can find online textbooks like Elementary Linear Algebra and Complex Variables.
- Science and Engineering Books for free download: These books range in topics from nanotechnology to compressible flow.
- FreeScience.info: Find over 1800 math, engineering and science books here.
- Free Tech Books: Computer programmers and computer science enthusiasts can find helpful books here.
Even children’s books are now available online. Find illustrated books, chapter books and more.
- byGosh: Find free illustrated children’s books and stories here.
- Munseys: Munseys has nearly 2,000 children’s titles, plus books about religion, biographies and more.
- International Children’s Digital Library: Find award-winning books and search by categories like age group, make believe books, true books or picture books.
- Lookybook: Access children’s picture books here.
Philosophy and Religion
For books about philosophy and religion, check out these websites.
- Bored.com: Bored.com has music ebooks, cooking ebooks, and over 150 philosophy titles and over 1,000 religion titles.
- Ideology.us: Here you’ll find works by Rene Descartes, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, David Hume and others.
- Free Books on Yoga, Religion and Philosophy: Recent uploads to this site include Practical Lessons in Yoga and Philosophy of Dreams.
- The Sociology of Religion: Read this book by Max Weber, here.
- Religion eBooks: Read books about the Bible, Christian books, and more.
From Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw to more contemporary playwrights, visit these sites.
- ReadBookOnline.net: Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
- Plays: Read Pygmalion, Uncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World here.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories.
- Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
- ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.
Modern Fiction, Fantasy and Romance
These websites boast collections of graphic novels, romance novels, fantasy books and more.
- Public Bookshelf: Find romance novels, mysteries and more.
- The Internet Book Database of Fiction: This forum features fantasy and graphic novels, anime, J.K. Rowling and more.
- Free Online Novels: Here you can find Christian novels, fantasy and graphic novels, adventure books, horror books and more.
- Foxglove: This British site has free novels, satire and short stories.
- Baen Free Library: Find books by Scott Gier, Keith Laumer and others.
- The Road to Romance: This website has books by Patricia Cornwell and other romance novelists.
- Get Free Ebooks: This site’s largest collection includes fiction books.
- John T. Cullen: Read short stories from John T. Cullen here.
- SF and Fantasy Books Online: Books here include Arabian Nights, Aesop’s Fables and more.
- Free Novels Online and Free Online Cyber-Books: This list contains mostly fantasy books.
For books in a foreign language like French, Spanish and even Romanian, look here.
- Project Laurens Jz Coster: Find Dutch literature here.
- ATHENA Textes Francais: Search by author’s name, French books, or books written by other authors but translated into French.
- Liber Liber: Download Italian books here. Browse by author, title, or subject.
- Biblioteca romaneasca: Find Romanian books on this site.
- Bibliolteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes: Look up authors to find a catalog of their available works on this Spanish site.
- KEIMENA: This page is entirely in Greek, but if you’re looking for modern Greek literature, this is the place to access books online.
- Proyecto Cervantes: Texas A&M’s Proyecto Cervantes has cataloged Cervantes’ work online.
- Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum: Access many Latin texts here.
- Project Runeberg: Find Scandinavian literature online here.
- Italian Women Writers: This site provides information about Italian women authors and features full-text titles too.
- Biblioteca Valenciana: Register to use this database of Catalan and Valencian books.
- Ketab Farsi: Access literature and publications in Farsi from this site.
- Afghanistan Digital Library: Powered by NYU, the Afghanistan Digital Library has works published between 1870 and 1930.
- CELT: CELT stands for “the Corpus of Electronic Texts” features important historical literature and documents.
- Projekt Gutenberg-DE: This easy-to-use database of German language texts lets you search by genres and author.
History and Culture
Refresh your memory of world history, the classics and U.S. history here.
- LibriVox: LibriVox has a good selection of historical fiction.
- The Perseus Project: Tufts’ Perseus Digital Library features titles from Ancient Rome and Greece, published in English and original languages.
- Access Genealogy: Find literature about Native American history, the Scotch-Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, and more.
- Free History Books: This collection features U.S. history books, including works by Paul Jennings, Sarah Morgan Dawson, Josiah Quincy and others.
- Most Popular History Books: Free titles include Seven Days and Seven Nights by Alexander Szegedy and Autobiography of a Female Slave by Martha G. Browne.
Look for rare books online here.
- Questia: Questia has 5,000 books available for free, including rare books and classics.
Arts and Entertainment
This list features books about celebrities, movies, fashion and more.
- Books-On-Line: This large collection includes movie scripts, newer works, cookbooks and more.
- Chest of Books: This site has a wide range of free books, including gardening and cooking books, home improvement books, craft and hobby books, art books and more.
- Free e-Books: Find titles related to beauty and fashion, games, health, drama and more.
- 2020ok: Categories here include art, graphic design, performing arts, ethnic and national, careers, business and a lot more.
- Free Art Books: Find artist books and art books in PDF format here.
- Free Web design books: OnlineComputerBooks.com directs you to free web design books.
- Free Music Books: Find sheet music, lyrics and books about music here.
- Free Fashion Books: Costume and fashion books are linked to the Google Books page.
Here you can find mystery books from Sherlock Holmes to more contemporary authors.
- MysteryNet: Read free short mystery stories on this site.
- TopMystery.com: Read books by Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton and other mystery writers here.
- Mystery Books: Read books by Sue Grafton and others.
These poetry sites have works by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
- The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
- Poetry: This list includes “The Raven,” “O Captain! My Captain!” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.”
- Poem Hunter: Find free poems, lyrics and quotations on this site.
- Famous Poetry Online: Read limericks, love poetry, and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Lord Byron and others.
- Google Poetry: Google Books has a large selection of poetry, from The Canterbury Tales to Beowulf to Walt Whitman.
- QuotesandPoem.com: Read poems by Maya Angelou, William Blake, Sylvia Plath and more.
- CompleteClassics.com: Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Lord Tennyson are all featured here.
- PinkPoem.com: On this site, you can download free poetry ebooks.
For even more free book sites, check out this list.
- Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
- World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopedias, children’s books and a lot more.
- DailyLit: DailyLit has everything from Moby Dick to the more recent phenomenon, Skinny Bitch.
- A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
- Free Online Novels: These novels are fully online and range from romance to religious fiction to historical fiction.
- ManyBooks.net: Download mysteries and other books for your iPhone or eBook reader here.
- Authorama: Books here are pulled from Google Books and more. You’ll find history books, novels and more.
- Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.
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