Back in the day, which is to say the early 1990s, when I was wearing flannel and too much patchouli, we read Stephen Laberge’s book Lucid Dreaming (now out of print), and we liked it! I was 20 years old, and the work transformed my dream life.
Since then, Laberge went on to pen an even more popular book, The World of Lucid Dreaming, co-authored with Howard Rheingold. This book is still required reading for the inspiring oneironaut. It has not been surpassed when it comes to sheer usefulness, authenticity, and grounded expert opinion.
Today, there’s a ton of new books about lucid dreaming on the market, with more coming out every year, and most of them focus on the nuts and bolts of how to have a lucid dream. These books are great — worthy of a blog round up on their own — but that’s not what I’m focusing on here.
Rather, there’s a smaller niche of works that might have escaped your notice. I’m talking about thoughtful, spiritually mind-bending, and downright world-shattering books that take on the central mystery of “consciousness in sleep” and run with it. These books may touch on the “how to” aspect of lucidity, but that’s not their central purpose. They go deeper; they have bigger fish to fry.
So here’s the most recent lucid dreaming books in this category of philosophical and spiritual perspectives that I can personally recommend. These are the authors who have taken lucid dreaming into the 21st century.
(By the way, I’m also not covering Buddhist Dream Yoga and lucid dreaming in this post–that also is a topic that needs its own round-up).
- Lucid dreams and the Holy Spirit, by Maria Pita (2015). This is a highly personal book by Pita that explores her lucid dreams and its effect on her faith and self-knowledge. You don’t have to have a Catholic background to get a lot out this one, but I do think that Christian lucid dreamers will love this work as there’s not much out there from this perspective. Honestly, I find Pita’s approach refreshing and heartening, especially when set against the sea of “lucid” nihilism that characterizes so much of the lucid dreaming scene.
- The paradox of lucid dreaming: A metaphysical theory of mind, by Rory McSweeney (2015). This one is truly mind-bending, reminding me of the smooth writing and scale of vision of Anthony Peake. McSweeney reframes lucidity within philosophy and the new physics, creating a new metaphysics of dreaming along the way. At the bottom of the debate is the nature of consciousness and the structure of the universe. “Are dreams made of atoms?” he teases. (Spoiler: no). Recommended especially for those who like to have more questions than answers!
- Dreaming wide awake: Lucid dreaming, shamanic healing and psychedelics, by David Jay Brown (2016). I can’t recommend this one enough. Brown is a science journalist who has been writing about psychedelia since the 1990s. His take on lucid dreaming is profound, personally informed, healing, and deeply practical. He asks questions and makes connections that only a seasoned consciousness explorer would know how to articulate. Full disclosure: Brown interviewed me for this book, and features my work as well.
- Llewellyn’s complete book on lucid dreaming (2017) by Clare Johnson. For less than $20, this book is a steal. Johnson has synthesized the most up-to-date lucid dream research from international scholars and combined it with her own personal experience to create a tour-de-force. This book is huge. It’s rich. It’s full of references for further reading. And it’s got lots of practical exercises that range from the spiritual to the creative. Another disclosure: Johnson also cites my work in this book.
- Lucid: The Tao of dreaming (2018) by Daniel Love. This book is hard to define, because it’s really unique. At first it appears to be a collection of thoughts on the nature of mindfulness and dreaming. Then, slowly, a hidden structure is revealed, taking the reader on a journey of greater lucidity as each meditation builds upon and supports one another. Some chapters are truly koans that create delightful paradox in the mind– the perfect recipe for stirring lucidity. It’s a relaxing book to read, a little at a time. In fact, reading it too quickly can dampen its power. This book is perfect as a lucidity-primer right before bed, or for incorporating into middle-of-the night meditations.
Did you enjoy this literature round up? Let me know if you’d like me to do some more, such as the best lucid dreaming 101 books, or recommended Dream Yoga texts, or recommended books for dream interpretation, etc. There’s been a wonderful collection of new dream books in the last few years!