Novels About Dreams or Imagination

These novels have characters with active imaginations, or a character’s dreams will be significant, either to their understanding of themselves or the world, or for the plot.

Novels with Dreams or Imagination

Demian | Herman Hesse

Emil Sinclair tries to live like his true self. He narrates his life from grammar school, boarding school, and thru university. Early on he meets Demian, a boy a few years older who opens his mind to new ideas.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland | Lewis Carroll

Alice, a young girl, is sitting by a stream when she sees a rabbit dressed in a waistcoat rushing along, muttering about being late. It jumps down a hole; Alice follows but loses track of the rabbit. She starts on a series of fantastic and absurd adventures.

Read “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Mark Twain

Young Tom is a troublemaker and has an active imagination. Tom and his friend Huck are in the cemetery one night when they witness Injun Joe stab and kill a man.

Read “Tom Sawyer”

Don Quixote | Miguel de Cervantes

Influenced by books of chivalry, a man decides to become a knight. He finds a squire and sets out to fight injustice and uphold what’s right. His imagination runs wild as it fills in the gaps in his adventures and often leads him to make absurd decisions and misread situations.

“…he gave the spur to his steed Rocinante, heedless of the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack.”

Read “Don Quixote”

Going after Cacciato | Tim O’brien

Paul Berlin is fighting in the Vietnam War. He is very frightened. A soldier, Cacciato, has deserted and a squad pursues him. During a night at an observation post, Paul imagines that Cacciato’s flight has been successful, and also thinks about some real wartime experiences he hasn’t been able to deal with.

Read “Going after Cacciato”

Donald Duk | Frank Chin

Donald Duk, the twelve-year-old narrator, hates his name and is embarrassed by his Chinese heritage. His uncle is going to give a presentation at his school, and Donald dreads it. Chinese New Year is approaching, so Donald’s father has been making paper airplanes to burn on the last day. Donald takes one of the planes thinking it won’t be missed, but his uncle tells him each plane has a story, so his father will notice. Donald starts to have dreams about building the transcontinental railroad, which one of his ancestors participated in.

Einstein’s Dreams | Alan Lightman

It is 1905 in the Alps where Einstein has finished a paper on his theory of time. The narrative goes back two months to relate his dreams about how time could move or be perceived. In his waking life, he thinks about his theory of relativity, and interacts with his wife and friend Besso.


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