The best books on dreams for writers who want to boost their creativity

Who am I?

I came to writing after twenty years of working with dreams, so I already had lots of techniques for coming and going easily between the everyday world and the inner worlds of imagination, and I’m sure that’s why I’ve never suffered from any creative blocks or anxieties. In a career spanning 30 years, I have written about 150 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults, and scores of articles including a monthly column in Writing Magazine. I have taught creative workshops for major writing organisations such as The Society of Authors, The Arvon Foundation, and The Scattered Authors’ Society, and I offer a varied programme of courses independently throughout the year.


I wrote...

Writing in the House of Dreams: Unlock The Power of Your Unconscious Mind

By Jenny Alexander,

Book cover of Writing in the House of Dreams: Unlock The Power of Your Unconscious Mind

What is my book about?

I’m a UK author with scores of titles to my name, but this is my ‘child of the heart’ book, the one I always wanted to write, before I had either the dreaming or writing skills to do it, and it has opened up a whole new area of work for me as a creative teacher. The book explores the nature of dreaming, including examples from my own practice in strand of a themed memoir that runs throughout, and it offers practical writing tasks from my workshops designed to help you engage with your dreams through writing and keep your writing flowing through a growing awareness and understanding of dreams.

The books I picked & why

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Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process

By Naomi Epel,

Book cover of Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process

Why this book?

This is one of only a few books I’ve found that looks directly at the way writers can use dream awareness in their creative practice. It’s a collection of interviews with twenty-six well-known authors compiled by dream researcher and radio-show host Naomi Epel, in which they talk about specific dreams that have inspired them and their thoughts about dreaming in general. I bought a copy to dip into on the train to London for a meeting but found it so fascinating, I abandoned my plan to do some sightseeing afterward, and made instead for the nearest bench and takeaway coffee, to spend the afternoon reading.

Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process

By Naomi Epel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writers Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As they discuss their dreams--both sleeping and waking--with Naomi Epel, the 26 writers in this intriguing book create a portrait of the creative process that is more candid than most autobiographies and more inspiring than any guide to writing.


Creative Dreaming: Plan and Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity Overcome Fears Solve Proble

By Patricia Garfield,

Book cover of Creative Dreaming: Plan and Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity Overcome Fears Solve Proble

Why this book?

This ground-breaking book, written in the 1970’s, is still essential reading for anyone wishing to explore dreams as a creative resource rather than interpret them in the traditional Western psychological way. I started recalling and recording dreams in therapy nearly fifty years ago and had reached the conclusion that trying to interpret them was confusing and potentially misleading. Then I chanced on this collection of studies of different dream traditions from other parts of the world. It changed everything. If you think of dreams in a purely psychological way, this book could give you whole new perspectives. 

Creative Dreaming: Plan and Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity Overcome Fears Solve Proble

By Patricia Garfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Simon & Schuster, Creative Dreaming: Plan And Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity, Overcome Fears, Solve Problems, and Create a Better Self is Patricia Garfield's definitive guide to dreaming.

Patricia Garfield presents techniques and information, drawn from many dreamers and widely varied cultures and times, that will enable you to plan your dreams ahead of time, influence them while they are occurring, and recall them and their lessons forever afterward.


The Art of Dreaming

By Carlos Castaneda,

Book cover of The Art of Dreaming

Why this book?

This book, like the previous one, is written by an anthropologist, and it describes the author’s experiences of learning dreaming techniques from a Toltec sorcerer. In that tradition, there are seven Gates of Dreaming, obstacles to be overcome if you want to achieve greater dream awareness and control, and the book looks at four of them. It’s thought-provoking but easy reading because it takes the form of a story, rather than a series of essays, and I enjoyed trying some of the ideas in my own dream practice.

The Art of Dreaming

By Carlos Castaneda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bestselling author Carlos Castaneda introduces readers to the worlds that exist within their dreams.


The Dream and the Underworld

By James Hillman,

Book cover of The Dream and the Underworld

Why this book?

James Hillman is the kind of writer you sometimes have to stop, think and re-read, to work your way into what he is trying to say, but it repays the effort because what he says is always interesting. This book, about fantasy and imagination, explores the idea that we are more than our personal story, more than ego and self. For me as a writer, it changed the way I see the creative process, with imagination not being something we need to spark and drive, but a space we already inhabit. Imagination is our essence; we are the dream.

The Dream and the Underworld

By James Hillman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dream and the Underworld as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a deepening of the thinking begun in The Myth of Analysis and Re-Visioning Psychology, James Hillman develops the first new view of dreams since Freud and Jung.


Memories, Dreams, Reflections

By Clara Winston, C.G. Jung, Aniela Jaffe, Richard Winston

Book cover of Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Why this book?

A fascinating memoir by the famous Swiss psychologist who began his career under the guidance of Sigmund Freud but went on to develop completely different ideas about psychology, including synchronicity and "active imagination," which inform some of the imagework techniques I use in workshops to help writers break through blocks. I have been a member of Lapidus, the international writing therapy organisation, for many years, and I’ve always been interested in the healing power of imagination. Jung believed in the power of art and imagery to help people move through difficulties and find resolutions, and we see how he used it here, in this very personal record of his inner life.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections

By Clara Winston, C.G. Jung, Aniela Jaffe, Richard Winston

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Memories, Dreams, Reflections as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I can understand myself only in the light of inner happenings. It is these that make up the singularity of my life, and with these my autobiography deals' Carl Jung

An eye-opening biography of one of the most influential psychiatrists of the modern age, drawing from his lectures, conversations, and own writings.

In the spring of 1957, when he was eighty-one years old, Carl Gustav Jung undertook the telling of his life story. Memories, Dreams, Reflections is that book, composed of conversations with his colleague and friend Aniela Jaffe, as well as chapters written in his own hand, and other…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dreams, creativity, and Switzerland?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dreams, creativity, and Switzerland.

Dreams Explore 44 books about dreams
Creativity Explore 84 books about creativity
Switzerland Explore 28 books about Switzerland

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Tristes Tropiques, The Divided Self, and Woman on the Edge of Time if you like this list.