What We Are Reading Today: Insomniac Dreams by Vladimir Nabokov

Updated 05 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Insomniac Dreams by Vladimir Nabokov

On Oct. 14, 1964, Vladimir Nabokov, a lifelong insomniac, began a curious experiment. 

Over the next 80 days, immediately upon waking, he wrote down his dreams, following the instructions in An Experiment with Time by British philosopher John Dunne. The purpose was to test the theory that time may go in reverse, so that a later event may generate an earlier dream. The result—published here for the first time—is a fascinating diary in which Nabokov recorded 64  dreams (and subsequent daytime episodes) on 118 index cards, providing a rare glimpse of the artist at his most private.

 Insomniac Dreams presents the text of Nabokov’s dream experiment, illustrated with a selection of his original index cards, and provides rich annotations and analysis that put them in the context of his life and writings.


What We Are Reading Today: The Angel and the Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Updated 18 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Angel and the Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

A thrilling story of scientific detective work and medical potential that illuminates the newly understood role of microglia — an elusive type of brain cell that is vitally relevant to our everyday lives, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

Until recently, microglia were thought to be merely the brain’s housekeepers, helpfully removing damaged cells. But a recent groundbreaking discovery revealed them to be capable of terrifying Jekyll and Hyde behavior.

Under the right circumstances, however, microglia can be coaxed back into being angelic healers, able to repair the brain in ways that help alleviate symptoms and hold the promise to one day prevent disease.

Award-winning journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa began her investigation with a personal interest — when diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder years ago, she was convinced there was something physical going on in her brain as well as her body, though no doctor she consulted could explain how the two could be interacting in this way. 

The book offers us a radically reconceived picture of human health.