What Does It Mean to Dream of Books?
Filmmaker John Waters famously advised that, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books,” you shouldn’t go to bed with them, as reported in more detail on Goodreads.
If you see books in your dreams after you do go to bed, it probably isn’t all about sex. Book dreams, however, can include the same quality of intellectual seriousness that makes book ownership increase your value on the dating market in waking life. Here’s how a dream about books might be interpreted.
Book Dream Summary
Books can be regarded with great seriousness, carrying over from when being able to read was rare not that historically long ago. To dream of books therefore can symbolize authority, history, and intelligence.
Books are also one way that people communicate and express creativity, so dreaming of books can symbolize these needs. Books can additionally symbolize the discomfort that can result when uncomfortable truths are exposed.
Common Book Dreams
- Dream of reading a book
- Dream of reading a book that doesn’t exist in waking life
- Dream of writing in a book
- Dream of looking for a book
Many religions have a holy book, such as the Bible in Christianity or the Quran in Islam. In earlier times when literacy was not common, only the leaders of the religions were able to read the holy books, and they relayed their insights verbally to the larger population.
A schism within Christianity began with the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s over this issue. Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, discovered that some of the instructions the leaders were giving the population purportedly from the authority of the Bible were not actually in the Bible.
After Luther made this information public, the resulting brouhaha led to the formation of Protestant churches separate from the Roman Catholic Church. One of the earliest Protestant Christian denominations, Lutheran, was named after Luther.
It helped Luther’s cause that, shortly before all this happened, the printing press was invented and was then able to generate copies of the Bible and other texts. Copies of the Bible no longer had to be written by hand, so it became easier for people to get hold of a copy of the Bible and test Luther’s claims for themselves.
This gave a lot of people the motivation to learn to read. With the idea that authority came from the Bible rather than from the people who happened to be leading the church, however, there came to be many, many Protestant Christian denominations, each with a slightly different interpretation of the Bible.
The authority of books has both good and bad sides. Sometimes going to the actual text of a book understood to have the authority to mediate disputes is enough to confront someone who is abusing power, as Luther did.
Sometimes, however, the content of a book is more ambiguous. When the book does not clearly speak for itself, the loudest bully’s claim to the book’s authority tends to win.
Using the authority of books to bully others is certainly not limited to the context of religion. Support groups for new parents are renowned for falling into the exact same behavior focused on who is doing the best job following the dictates of the group’s favored child development book.
Dreaming of books may therefore symbolize that you are involved in a conflict over authority, where one person may be claiming the authority of some significant book to bully another. Alternately, it may symbolize that you need to consult the authority of a relevant book to mediate a dispute, and you had better make sure you are on the side of the facts.
Our World in Data noted that, in 1820, only 12 percent of the world’s population could read and write. By 2015, 86 percent could.
Still, though, reading is an activity associated with smart people. If you think of yourself as a smart person, dreaming of yourself reading or otherwise surrounded by books could reinforce this image of yourself.
If you don’t think of yourself as a smart person, dreaming of books could trigger your insecurities about your intellect. If you would like to become more “book smart,” you might have more potential for that than you think.
“Book smart,” however, is often spoken of as the opposite of “street smart.” These phrases reflect the idea that the knowledge found in books tends to be theoretical and not always how the world works in reality.
Dreaming of books can therefore symbolize that you are dealing with a conflict between intellectual knowledge and practical experience. Especially if the emotional atmosphere around the books in your dream is contemptuous, the way you have read that things should be may be very different from your observations of real life.
Books can seem really old, especially if you more commonly get your information from the Internet. While a website or a social media feed can be continually updated, a paper book does not change its content once it is physically made.
If the unchanging nature of a book’s content is emphasized in your dream, this may symbolize a situation where you or someone else in your life is stuck in the past and won’t accept that times have changed.
As always, it is necessary to interpret individual symbols within the overall context of your dream. If the emphasis on the unchanging nature of a book’s content felt comforting in your dream, maybe you are too caught up in the daily drama of your life and need to get a bigger perspective on things.
A book is a form of communication where the author can express their message at length without being interrupted. The reader, in turn, can take in the message on their own terms.
Books facilitate deep thought because this form of communication does not come with the pressure to produce a response quickly enough to keep a spoken conversation going.
If you dream of books, maybe you need to freshen up your own thought life by interacting with someone else’s thoughts.
Writing a book, especially a work of fiction, can be the ultimate act of creativity. You get to create a whole world and control everything that happens in it, basically playing God.
Dreaming of a book could therefore symbolize that you are dealing with a similar impulse. Whether or not you want to write your own book specifically, you could have the general desire to create something where your unique perspective matters.
When you write a book, you tell your side of the story. Whether or not you ever feel the urge to write a book in your waking life, you probably at some point have had the desire for your side of the story to be heard and believed, and dreaming of a book could symbolize this desire.
Alternately, dreaming of a book could symbolize that someone else in your life has the desire to tell their side of the story in a way that may not make you look great. You may feel exposed.
This scenario is described in the Sheryl Crow song “The Book,” where the singer says to a former lover who has written a book about their affair,
I read your book
And I find it strange
That I know that girl and I know her world
A little too well.
Crow said of this, “The song is written metaphorically. I didn’t have a three-day affair in Rome, but the emotion it evokes is a real sentiment of exposing yourself to someone and then having it used against you. When I wrote this song, it was really capturing a moment about that feeling of helplessness, of not being able to make things right. There’s no way to retrace our steps, to really know what the truth was.”
Common Book Dreams
Dream of reading a book
In interpreting your dream of reading a book, it may be necessary to look at your usual habits in waking life around reading books, as it is common for your dreams to resemble your waking life. If you spend a lot of time reading books for school, work, or pleasure, dreaming of reading a book might just be processing what you did that day.
If you rarely read books in waking life, how do you get your information about the world? If you usually get your news on the fly from social media, dreaming of reading a book may be urging you to slow down and investigate things more seriously. You might also benefit from looking at older sources of information to get a larger perspective on the drama of the moment.
If you usually listen to the radio or podcasts instead of reading books, dreaming of reading a book would have you engaging a different sense, vision, rather than your comfort zone of hearing. You might examine how you felt about leaving your comfort zone in the dream. Did you wish you could have heard that information in a podcast instead, or did it feel good to do something else for a change?
Dream of reading a book that doesn’t exist in waking life
If you dream of reading a book that doesn’t exist in waking life, this can be frustrating especially if you were enjoying the book in the dream, because you can’t access it again easily!
Inverse reported that the brain areas involved in processing language are not very active during sleep, so most people can’t read in their dreams, at least not in the same way they do in waking life. In dreams, though, any type of communication can feel more like telepathy than it does in waking life.
Try to write down as much as you can remember of the book in your dream. It is great to keep a dream journal for any type of dream, but documenting a dream of an unfamiliar book could be especially rewarding, as it might be a unique message meant just for you.
Dream of writing in a book
If you dream of writing in a book like a journal, you have a serious approach to the information you come across in your life.
Sometimes people are advised to keep a diary of their symptoms or their food intake if they are trying to get a medical issue diagnosed. If they are pursuing a court case or other complaint against someone who is abusing them, they may be advised to keep a diary of events related to that.
Dreaming of writing in a book may therefore symbolize that you are involved in this sort of investigation where your own observations are important information. While books can connote established authority, when you are writing the book yourself, you are the authority.
If you dream of making your own marginal notes in a textbook or other published book, you are engaging with the information that others give you and putting your own spin on it.
Dream of looking for a book
If you dream you are looking for a particular book and can’t find it, you may be struggling with issues involving forgotten or missing information in your life. There could be a gap in the story around you.
If you are searching for the desired book among other books that aren’t the one you want, the idea is similar to being lonely in a crowd, where you have people around you, but you don’t feel that they understand you.
Dreaming of being unable to find the book you want among other books could also symbolize being busy with trivial content that distracts you from what is really important in your life. Maybe the people around you are talkative but in a way that manages to ignore the elephant in the corner of the room.
Books are associated with the intellectual life in the waking world. Many of their associations as dream symbols are similarly abstract – they’re not about primal physical cravings like food or sex.
If the Internet is the information superhighway, however, books are its ancestors, the information streets. Book dreams therefore often touch on issues of how people connect to each other in a large and complex society.