Growing up, daydreaming was a common activity for me. Yes, I read, watched movies, and participated in some sort of athletic activity, but when that was all over, I’d let my mind wander. A daydream always started with a book or something funny that happened earlier that day. Often, I could simply daydream about the characters and stories in a book, or take it a step further by changing the characters or setting. You could definitely say I had my head in the clouds. Not the best thing for a student to do, right? I know many of us have been taught that daydreams are a distraction and that we should focus on school, work, etc. That’s fair, but I think it depends on the time and place. It probably wouldn’t be good to daydream in the middle of a soccer game, right? Distractions definitely don’t help when you need to get things done, but what about when you’re washing the dishes or brushing your teeth?
How Can Daydreaming Be Fun and Helpful?
According to Erin Westgate, a psychology professor at the University of Florida, “as you build your ability to daydream, you’ll have a source of enjoyable thoughts at your disposal during stressful times.” Daydreaming goes past thinking positive thoughts. It’s more of creating an oasis, a safe world where your mind can stop by for a brief visit or stay the night. It’s a positive experience that can help you in times of stress or times of boredom. Instead of opening a social media app or laboring over the things you need to get done, you could spend a moment enjoying a daydream.
But…let’s be real, daydreaming isn’t always that simple. It can be hard when you haven’t done it in awhile. It can be especially difficult when you’re actively trying to daydream.
How Do We Get Better at Daydreaming?
It isn’t new for many people. Although it’s hard to say what types of people have an easier time daydreaming, there are some key points that help. In general, people who are creative and imaginative can find themselves daydreaming often. If you write fiction, I expect you’re a seasoned pro daydreamer. After all, those who write fiction are developing stories all the time. To daydream, you have to take on many roles, like writer, actor, screenwriter, and costume designer, not to mention…audience member as well. When daydreaming, you create the world you dream. It could be the world we live in or an imaginary one you read about in a book. Because of this, writers are particularly good daydreamers.
To “master” daydreaming, Westgate suggests daydreaming while doing tasks that don’t require your full attention, like brushing your teeth or walking. She also highlights that the things you daydream about should be meaningful and not limited to simple positive thoughts, like eating ice cream. The best way to prepare your brain for daydreaming is by having a list of topics and ideas that you think you’ll like to daydream about. That’s where the books come in!
What Makes a Book Worthy of Our Daydreams?
There are many characteristics that make a book a worthy tool for daydreaming. The most important one is that the concepts (characters, storyline, setting, plot) give the reader a good jumping off point. In this way, a book can create a reality the reader can readily insert themselves into or present a universe that the reader questions and is curious about. What makes it a good book for daydreams is giving enough details while also leaving enough questions. If the book explains everything, then what is there to think or wonder about later? The book needs to paint a picture, but not fill in ALL the space with paint.
What Genres Are Best For Daydreaming?
Many books can lend a helping hand, but some are more equipped than others. Specifically for me, fantasy and magical realism are perfect examples of books that can help someone daydream. In these genres, you can discover worlds completely different from your own or experience an alternate reality with just a touch of magic. Each genre has a wide array of topics like space, time travel, and dragons. My list of books focuses on these genres, but it also takes into account other elements. Some of the books include lovely detailed descriptions and illustrations. Others incorporate plots that relate to time, travel, and time travel! They all spur further questions or thoughts on a variety of topics from the setting to the plot. Lastly, almost all of them present meaningful scenes and optimistic endings. This doesn’t mean these books are without pain, trauma, strife, or violence. It simply means that they provide a story that has meaningful themes and a hopeful outcome.
Without further ado, here are books that can teach, help, or inspire you to daydream!
6 Books to Help You Daydream
Before the Coffee Gets Cold By Toshikazu Kawaguchi
This book consists of four chapters, one for each character that goes to a mysterious café to travel back in time. Many are eager to take a peek into the past, but there are some rules: you can’t change the past and you have to finish your coffee before it gets cold…
Talk about a good jumping off point! In addition to learning about a mysterious café, there are many meaningful scenes that cover various topics like regret, time, and what the future holds. This is the first book that came to mind when I thought of daydreaming. While reading this book and after finishing it, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the possible scenarios. When it comes to fabulism, this is one of my personal favorites. After finishing it, all I could think about is what I would do if I could go back in time. What memory would I visit? How would I use the time that I received? And how would it affect my future?
The Tea Dragon Society By Katie O’Neill
Katie O’Neill has created a unique little universe where a community of characters have pet dragons that grow leaves with magical qualities. Her middle grade fantasy graphic novel series includes three books. The Tea Dragon Society and The Tea Dragon Festival are available now, while The Tea Dragon Tapestry will be released in June 2021. The first two books cover the lovely community of creatures that face challenges like growing up, loss, memory, and finding a place to call home. There were many moments where I wanted to step into this world and drink tea in a cottage at the edge of the forest. Plus, the illustrations are beyond adorable.
And yes, I really really want a pet dragon. There, I’ve said it.
Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales By Jamila Gavin and Richard Collingridge
I couldn’t write a list of delightful daydream inspiring books without including at least one fairytale. With this collection, you’ll get six unique and magical fairytales. Each story is quite different, but they all share an element of unpredictability and wonder. They’re full of many twists and turns as well as magic, mystery, and lovely illustrations! In these fairy tales, you’ll meet:
A girl with a dress made of petals…
A boy on a journey to recover his sister’s soul…
A lake with precious gems…
A wicked sorcerer, a cursed forest, and a boy that knows the way…
A magical violin and a longing for home…
A princess of the night cursed to never see the light of day…
The Midnight Library By Matt Haig
Nora Seed is dead. Well, not exactly. To be more specific, she’s in a place between life and death, a place called the Midnight Library. In this library, she has the chance to try out different lives. It allows her to explore lives she could’ve lived if she made different choices, be they big or small. What would’ve happened if she stayed in the band or became an Olympic swimmer? Nora finds out as she goes on a whirlwind adventure to find her perfect life…if it exists.
Honestly, this book blurb is enough to make my mind drift off and never return. This story has magical elements, but it’s still grounded in reality. It includes a variety of difficult scenes and realities for the main character, but it also has a great deal of hope. I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d be doing now if I made a different choice. Where would I be? What would my life look like in an alternate universe?
Content warning: suicide, depression
Where Dreams Descend By Janella Angeles
It has the word dream in the title, so how could I resist?
But seriously, the scenes in this book are dazzling. There were moments I had to stop and soak in the descriptions and imagery.
As a fan of both Moulin Rouge! and Phantom of the Opera, I was delighted to see how this story brings the marvelous and mysterious together with a nice dose of magic. It takes place in a world full of performances, “accidents,” and a mysterious magic competition. Kallia, an impressive performer at Hellfire House, seeks to test her skills and win the magician’s competition. There’s a lot to gain if she can pull it off like getting out of Hellfire House, exploring Glorian, AND proving that a woman can do more than just labor magic. There’s tragedy, bad magic, a love triangle, and a cliffhanger. If the end leaves you begging for more, you’ll be able to enjoy the sequel to the duology, which comes out in October of 2021!
Skyward By Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela
Skyward is a three volume YA science fiction graphic novel that centers Willa, a 19-year-old growing up in a world quite different from our own. On her Earth, she lives in low gravity. What kind of problems does that cause? Well, for one, you can fly, but if you jump a bit too high, you might just find yourself outside of Earth’s atmosphere and in space. What about when a storm hits? Instead of droplets hitting the pavement, these characters encounter a very different and dangerous experience in the sky. In this world, Willa is on a mission to fix Earth and return it to the way it was before, when people could walk down the street without fear of floating away. On her mission, she encounters many challenges while growing up and dealing with death and loss. Not only are the illustrations gorgeous, but the scenes and situations gave me a lot to think about. What would it be like to swim in the sky or float up high when night came? How would I stay safe when exploring wide open spaces away from the city?
There are many more books that could be added, but I hope this list can give you a boost to lift you high, high, and up into the sky!
After all, there’s a whole new world available to each of us. It’s just a daydream away.
Now let’s start daydreaming!
For other books that can inspire your daydreams, check out: