If you're wondering why you keep having that reoccurring dream about riding around on the subway naked, then perhaps it's time you turned to books about dream meanings for some insight. Many people share the same common dreams — dreams about family, dreams about money, nightmares about work — and each of them carry a deeper meaning that can shed light onto yourself and your life.
The idea behind dream interpretation, which was championed early on by the likes of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, is that if you can record and interpret your dreams, then you can consciously help yourself work through what you're subconsciously struggling with. Dreams, as many psychologists, scientists, and theorists agree, are important processing mechanisms our minds have developed to help us deal with our everyday emotions, conflicts, and stresses. Understanding your dreams is the key to understanding yourself.
Sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, right? Don't knock it until you've tried it, because while not every dream has a solid, concrete meaning, learning about the possibilities can be just as beneficial to your peace of mind. So, you think you're ready to know what your dreams mean to your waking life? Try these seven books about dream interpretations:
The Interpretation of Dreams: The Complete and Definitive Text by Sigmund Freud
As Sigmund Freud put it in this now classic work, “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” The Interpretation of Dreams is not just a book on your Psych 101 syllabus, but an all-encompassing guide to dreaming that includes everything from dream theory to dream interpretation to case studies and much more. If you want to figure out what's going on in your head — and learn how dreams work in everyone's head at the same time — then this is the book for you.
The Ultimate Dictionary of Dream Language by Briceida Ryan
The Ultimate Dictionary of Dream Language takes dream interpretation and makes it alphabetical. Whether you want to understand sex, violence, or Great White Sharks, this extensive, easily searchable guide explains the meaning of 25,000 possible dream symbols. If you can't find the answer here, it might not exist.
What Your Dreams Are Telling You: Unlocking Solutions While You Sleep by Cindy McGill with David Sluka
This practical, hands-on guide to understanding your dreams gives you the tools you need to interpret your dream and apply what you've learned from it to your awake life. Including common dream themes, a reference guide, and tips to better dreaming, What Your Dreams Are Telling You is user-friendly, perfect for anyone new to dream analysis.
Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth by Robert A. Johnson
Drawing from the Jungian school of thought, analyst Robert A. Johnson lays out a four-step approach to dream work and active imagination that helps you harness the power of your unconscious mind and channel it into making your conscious self more productive and less conflicted. Filled with exercises as well as information, Inner Work is a well-written, easy to understand book that aims to lead you to a more compete, satisfying life.
Dream Alchemy: The Ultimate Guide to Interpreting Your Dreams by Jane Teresa Anderson
Straightforward and all-inclusive, this complete listing of dreams includes not only their meanings but also easy to follow exercises that help you maximize the benefit of dream interpretation. Dream Alchemy not only covers the basics, but it also gives you advice on how to transform bad dreams into positive visions, how to tap into your creativity, and much more.
12,000 Dreams Interpreted: A New Edition for the 21st Century by Gustavus Hindman Miller
Originally written nearly 100 years ago, 12,000 Dreams Interpreted has been updated for the dreamers of the 21st century. From cell phones and computers to animals and weather, this bestseller is so easy to use, you'll be volunteering to interpret your roommates dreams in no time.
Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner
If you have every been curious about lucid dreaming, Robert Waggoner's practical guide is a great way to get your feet wet. Told in an autobiographical form, Lucid Dreaming breaks down the five phases of lucid dreaming and walks readers through successfully mastering them all. Intriguing and inspiring, this is a handy guide for beginners or experienced lucid dreamers.
Images: Léa Jones/Stocksy