Check It Out: Book a journey with this illustrated history of travel

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at [email protected]

It’s that time of year when a lot of people dream of traveling to tropical locales. We’ve had a pretty mild winter thus far, so the urge to get away from the cold and wet may not be as strong as, say, last year (remember last January? If you’re from this area, I’m sure you do).

This year, instead of going to the library to check out travel guides, perhaps a little armchair traveling will do just fine. If so, I would like to recommend Simon Adams’ “Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel.” It’s published by Dorling Kindersley, which is known for its beautifully illustrated titles, but it’s also produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution, and that powerhouse combination has resulted in a truly stunning book. I’m not the only one to be wowed, by the way. Reviews are singing its praises, with one reviewer for “Library Journal” commenting that “readers will be struck by the sheer wonder of it all.” Exactly.

Maps, photographs, eyewitness accounts, ephemera — this book is packed (travel pun!) with information. In case you’re wondering if this history of travel is limited to more modern-day experiences involving powered modes of transportation, the answer is a resounding “no.” Adams starts his exploration with the Ancient World, 3000 BCE. Think camels, wagons, and lots of traveling by foot. In other words, you didn’t need a travel agent to book your journey, you just went. If you were lucky enough to be part of the Minoan culture, which just happened to take a big step forward with the building of wooden ships, you might have been able to cruise around the Mediterranean, trading with other islands and enjoying the sea breeze. Well, cruising might not be the best term. From the looks of the Minoan ship design, rowing your heart out was more like it. All the more reason to enjoy the sea breeze, I suppose.

From traveling by donkey to pushing an oar (remember — 100 percent hard work, 0 percent like a cruise), touring by locomotive to flying to Mars (SpaceX, some day), humans have been traveling for millennia and will continue to travel for as long as the human race continues. Check out “Journey” and hit the road, bibliographically-speaking, as the history of travel unfolds over 440 fascinating pages. No reservation required.

Bitcoin fans: Digital currency is still a dream

Bitcoin breaks my heart.

Not because I missed the great run-up (though I did) and not because I fear that the bitcoin bubble will end badly (it will, but that’s not my problem). Rather, it is because I have been waiting for decades for someone to invent a purely digital currency, a currency for online purchases that wasn’t linked to a credit card. It was the killer app that no one ever figured out.

Thus when bitcoin first emerged, I had hoped that it would be The One. In “Digital Gold,” his book about bitcoin’s origins, Nathaniel Popper quotes an email from Satoshi Nakamoto, the cryptocurrency’s mysterious and possibly apocryphal inventor, “I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

That’s how all the early bitcoin enthusiasts thought of it — a currency, one that allowed consumers to buy things while sidestepping both the banking system and national governments. What the bitcoin bubble shows, however, is that bitcoin is just another e-currency failure. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I first began thinking about digital currency in the mid-1990s when I met a brilliant cryptographer and mathematician named David Chaum, who had invented what he called electronic cash, or e-cash. It did exactly what bitcoin purports to do — allow people to use virtual money, stored on their computer, to make purchases and send money to other people.

Chaum was way ahead of his time. He founded his company, DigiCash, five years before the creation of either Netscape, which popularized the browser, or Amazon. By 1998, DigiCash was bankrupt.

What followed was the short-lived “information wants to be free” era. Napster, which was founded in 1999, used peer-to-peer technology that allowed music lovers to download songs illegally. Newspapers didn’t have paywalls, and many people came to assume that news shouldn’t cost anything. I saw my own children downloading music and even movies, and when I would tell them they were violating the law, they would tell me I didn’t understand how the world worked in the internet age.

As e-commerce took hold, the only means of payment was a credit card. It was a real commercial friction point: every time you wanted to buy something you had to fill out your credit card information, plus your billing address and, if it was different, your shipping address as well. And once you had done that, your information would be vulnerable to hackers.

Electronic currency could have solved both these problems. If my children had access to a digital currency — maybe their allowance! — Napster could have struck deals with the record companies and charged for songs. They would have happily paid. And e-cash would have made internet commerce pretty darn close to frictionless. By 2000, the chief executive of an internet bank was saying, “We’ve reached the point where the internet economy needs e-cash.”

It never happened. Instead, entrepreneurs and companies created a series of workarounds, some better than others. The best-known was PayPal, which essentially accessed your bank or credit card account to make purchases or send money. Apple and Amazon have also made it much easier to pay for things; when I want to pay for my monthly Washington Post subscription, I hit the “Amazon Pay” button and it’s done. Even so, we still spend an awful lot of time filling out credit card information when we want to buy something online.

Meanwhile, every effort to come up with an electronic currency foundered. I remember one called Qpass and another called WebPay. In the early 2000s, e-gold emerged as a potential solution, until it turned out that it was being used primarily by criminals. In 2008, its founder pleaded guilty to money laundering.

According to the website, there are 89 companies that claim to accept bitcoin as currency, including Subway, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bookstore, and the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria, Texas. But I can’t imagine anyone actually using it to pay for something. Who would use bitcoin for a purchase when it might go up by $500 in the next 10 minutes? And who would accept bitcoin when it could go down by $500 in the next 10 minutes?

Whatever the original intention, bitcoin has morphed into an asset whose only purpose is speculation. “There is simply no way to predict what it will be worth,” said Pete Kight, a “fintech” (financial technology) investor who founded Checkfree in 1981. That is its fatal flaw as an electronic currency.

Or, rather, that is one of them. The other flaw is the very quality that many of its adherents love most about it: It operates separately from the government’s fiat currency. “I call it the tyranny of brilliance,” said Kight. “When you work in fintech, you often see engineering genius get out of synch with what works in the real world.”

In the case of bitcoin, he said: “There is this thing called the Federal Reserve. Its first job is to protect the financial system of the United States. For a cryptocurrency to be successful, it has to work out with the Fed how it won’t undermine the banking system.”

I can imagine that after the bubble bursts, bitcoin will continue to be traded. Maybe a few of the other cryptocurrencies will have similar trajectories (though most will dissolve into nothingness). I can see it reflecting the larger economy in some way, rising in certain environments and falling in others. In the best case, bitcoin might come to be seen as the digital equivalent of gold.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But we’ll have to wait a little longer for an electronic currency that works.

Joe Nocera is the former editorial director of Fortune.

Cancer survivor fulfils lifelong dream

A NAN who beat cancer has fulfilled one of her lifelong ambitions of writing a novel.

Denise Lunt, of Longhurst Road, Hindley Green, started writing her debut book Goodnight Mr Stone while she was having treatment at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester for a rare type of blood cancer and a tumour on her pelvis.

The 73-year-old, who was given the all-clear from cancer last March, tells the story of a Harvard University student who falls in love but becomes embroiled in a web of murder and blackmail.

Denise said: “It has always been on my bucket list to write a book but my dyslexia held me back.

“When I became ill I thought it was now or never.

“I have friends who are solicitors and I was also interested in law, and would have loved to have studied at Harvard, so this was a story that I enjoyed writing.

“I liked it that much that I wrote the story in three weeks.

“I would say I am a perfectionist though, so the editing stage took quite a lot of time to do so the quality was up to what I wanted it to be.”

Denise’s book has received rave reviews from around the world with copies selling as far as America, Canada and Australia.

A portion of the money from the sale of each book will be donated to The Christie.

Denise said: “We are so lucky to have the hospital in our area and I wanted to make sure I did something as a thank you for the help they have me.

“Everyone there was so loving and kind to me while I was there.”

Shakespeare fan Denise is also halfway through writing her second novel, Spring in Autumn, which she tips to be a big success.

To buy Goodnight Mr Stone on Amazon visit

Simon Sebag Montefiore: By the Book

And which novelists do you especially enjoy reading?

The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz ranks up there with Tolstoy, as does “The Family Moskat,” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Remembrance of Things Past,” by Proust. I adore everything by Balzac and Zola but especially “The Kill,” which has one of the most beautiful seduction scenes in literature. Everything by Joseph Roth, especially “Hotel Savoy.” From American writers: Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” quartet; Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”; Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain”; E. L. Doctorow’s “Billy Bathgate”; Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence”; James Salter’s “All That Is”; and the early novels of Norman Mailer. Amongst modern writers I enjoy le Carré, Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel, Don “The Cartel” Winslow, Alan Furst and Gary Shteyngart. I just finished the Irish novelist Sebastian Barry’s “Days Without End” — outstanding.

How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or several simultaneously? Morning or night?

I love paper. I prefer paperbacks, especially American ones and the French Livres de Poche which are particularly flexible and lithe. I am an omnivore and read ravenously. I have books for every room, all on the go, two for the bedroom, one fiction, one nonfiction usually, then I have bathroom books (one for the bath, one for times of strenuous concentration) and kitchen books. The essential thing is a variety of new voices, voyages, friendships and experiences in reading as in life.

Some I never finish, some I never start, and now I define mortality as the knowledge that I will never finish all the books I dream of reading. I am a passionate nonfinisher. Life is too short and there are too many great books to read, so if I lose interest or respect, I switch. But when of course when you really fall in love with a book, all the others are ignored …

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I like the implication of the question: Do we all have a predictable reading list for our curriculum vitae, our class, our race, our gender? A book from a new genre that I most enjoyed recently was Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” sublimely fantastical storytelling that blends adventure, magic, sci-fi, and cultural-religious syncretism. Another that I usually abhor are on relationships or self-help, but I’ve really enjoyed Laura Kipnis’s “Against Love” which explores the absurd rules of love and marriage in the West since the 19th century.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Voracious, excitable, starry-eyed. Dumas’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” encapsulates so many fantasies of my childhood — the escape from prison, the mysterious fortune, vengeance on enemies. I was a lover of vicious fairy tales like Struwwelpeter. I remember sobbing over Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince.” I relished the poetry of Byron, Keats and Kipling; my favorite was “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes. I was taught Shakespeare brilliantly by an eccentric genius at Harrow named Jeremy Lemmon who made me want to be a writer. I consumed everything by Robert Graves and Mary Renault, then Orwell, Hemingway, Guy de Maupassant, and Michael Moorcock’s Colonel Pyat novels in a frenzy until I discovered Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Pushkin, Lermontov and, my favorites, Isaac Babel and Kurban Said’s “Ali and Nino,” which infected me with a feverish fascination for Russia and the Caucasus that led me to go out there in 1991 as the U.S.S.R. dissolved.

If you could require the American president to read one book, what would it be? And the prime minister?

The president should read the 3,000-page three-volume biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II by John Röhl, a masterpiece full of Willy’s crazy, vicious, unstable, autocratic misconceived acts that would be hilarious if not so terrifying. The president would be fascinated by the Kaiser and enjoy a strange sense that he is not unique: He aspires to be an American czar but may be an American kaiser. On the recognition of Jerusalem and understanding the Middle East, I recommend four old but vibrant masterpieces: Josephus’s “The Jewish War”; Usama ibn Mundiqh’s “The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades”; Ibn Khaldun’s “The Muqaddimah,”; and Evliya Celebi’s “An Ottoman Traveller.”

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

I will be unpopular for this! I relish thrillers but find that many start brilliantly then collapse when the initial trick is unveiled.Gone Girl” was one — when I found out the “Girl” wasn’t quite “Gone,” I went.

Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite or the most personally meaningful?

“Red Sky at Noon” is my latest novel and my favorite. This is a literary “Sophie’s Choice” because I love all my children — including my history books “Jerusalem: The Biography” and “The Romanovs,” but I cherish the novels most because they are love stories, tales of intimate and family life and the different types of love and redemption in dangerous times, the great subjects for any writer. “Red Sky” contains slivers of my heart. Its characters, led by the writer Benya Golden, who joins one of Stalin’s punishment battalions during World War II, are so familiar to me now. In the last period of real cavalry warfare, Benya enrolls in a cavalry battalion with a crew of cutthroats and Cossacks who encounter the Italians. It’s a wartime adventure set on horseback — inspired by the Western novels that I love, such as “Lonesome Dove,” but also by Isaac Babel’s “Red Cavalry.” Ultimately it is a love story between Benya and the Italian nurse Fabiana. Its tragedy is it cannot last. The history is accurate (Stalin and his daughter are characters) and the Italian tragedy in Russia is much neglected. “Red Sky” can be read on its own but it is part of “The Moscow Trilogy,” and these are the books that I am most proud of.

Who would you want to write your life story?

A committee consisting of George MacDonald Fraser, Gabriel García Márquez, Alexander Pushkin and Guy de Maupassant.

Continue reading the main story

Keeping warm with a good book Downriver during winter’s wrath | Downriver Life

When the weather outside is frightful, curling up with a good book is delightful, and local libraries have stacks of stories, for children, teens and adults, from which to chose.

Theresa Powers, director of the Taylor Community Library, 12303 Pardee Road, said those who enjoyed watching the “Outlander” series on television will love the book series.

“It will satisfy your thirst for adventure,” Powers said. “And for cold winter nights, Debbie Macomber and Jan Karon will always warm you from the inside out.”

She said Macomber’s latest titles are “Merry and Bright” and “Any Dream Will Do,” while Karon’s latest book is, “To Be Where You Are.”

Her staff also recommend the “Fever” series by Karen Moning, for an edgier read, and “Slightly Spooky: Silent Corner” by Dean Koontz, the J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter” series, murder mysteries by Agatha Christie, Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich and the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.

“Embrace the cold and read books by Sara Henry, Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow,” Powers said, “or ‘Bear Town’ by Fredrik Bachman, ‘Bronx Requiem’ by John Clarkson, and the strong, silent heroes of the Van Shaw series by Glen Erik Hamilton. Don’t forget that many titles listed above can be found in a variety of formats, and on digital cartridge for visually impaired readers.”

Taylor Library paraprofessional Sarah Roe said she recommends readers curl up with “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke, “Knit One, Kill Two” by Maggie Sefton and “Murder Past Due” by Miranda James.

“I’d say the cold weather really whips up interest in the cozy mysteries genre,” Roe said.

She said she is excited to share a new class at 2 p.m. Jan. 21, when Detroit Paranormal Expeditions will offer a new stand-alone program. For information about upcoming programs, call 734-287-4840 or go to

It the weather is bad enough to stay indoors and off the roads, Library Director Francene Sanak of the Trenton Veterans Memorial Library, 2790 Wakefield Road, said people can renew books with a phone call or online at all of the Downriver libraries.

Sanak said the Trenton library has many crock pot and slow cooker cookbooks.

“ To make a warm meal and savor the aroma of it cooking at home, come in and check one out to try,” Sanak said.

If you would rather daydream about being in a warmer climate when Michigan temperature are dropping, she recommends checking out a travel guide for a warmer climate, like the Dorling Kindersley Travel Guides to many warm climates, including the Caribbean, Florida, Arizona, California, Mexico, Africa, Australia and beyond.

“I love the pictures in this series even if I am not able to go,” Sanak said. “It makes for great armchair travel or planning your next vacation.”

If you want to warm your heart while staying at home, Sanak recommends “Juliet” by Anne Fortier, which she describes as both a modern day and long ago tale of a Romeo and Juliet.

She said other heartwarming tales are, “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles, a story of an old soldier and a young girl in Texas shortly after the U.S. Civil War, and “The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald, about a young woman from Sweden who comes to a small town in Iowa, and is both a love story and a story about the love of books.

Kirk Borger, director of the Riverview Veterans Memorial Library, 14300 Sibley, recommends “Column of Fire” by Ken Follett, which he said is long but worthwhile.

“’Column of Fire,’ about two lovers who get involved with the intrigue during the reign of Elizabeth I, is sure to make an exciting read on a wintry evening,” Borger said. “The boyfriend spies for Elizabeth I, but also must manage his turbulent relationship with his girlfriend.”

To go somewhere warm while reading, Borger recommends Joan Didion’s “South and West.”

“Joan Didion takes trip to the Deep South with her husband,” he said. “Her book gives poignant insights into the places that she visits.”

Retired substitute Riverview librarian Deborah Helton said books are so accessible on cold winter nights.

“They are right there,” she said. “You can cozy up in your warm blankets and spend some quality time just imagining things.”

Jasper woman pens first book of fantasy series

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JASPER — Martina “Marti” Pfaff of Jasper, 48, may have dyslexia, but she didn’t let that stop her from writing a book.


Pfaff writes under the nom de plume Tina Lynn and published her first book, “Thunder Lake,” in April.

“I’ve always wanted to write,” Pfaff said. “As far back as I can remember, I’ve always said I wanted to write a book.”

“Thunder Lake” is the first book in a fantasy series for adults and teens that mixes magic, Greek mythology and monotheism.

With the popularity of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises, Pfaff said she wondered what it would be like to add God to the story. Pfaff is a Christian herself, so the monotheism in her book has a Christian feel and includes evangelism, monks, demons and the angel Gabriel, but it’s not specifically Christian.

In the books, the monks follow the One God and work to bring the polytheistic main characters to belief in a single deity. The main characters, however, have magical powers stemming from the Greek deities Zeus, Hera, Hades and Poseidon. The series takes place in an alternate world that God created for magical beings and will culminate in the main characters converting to monotheism and a battle between good and evil.

So far, Pfaff has three of the at least five books in her series complete or in the works.

“Thunder Lake” is available on Amazon through Pfaff’s publisher, Pen It. The second book, “Juno,” is in the editing stage, and Pfaff is gearing up to write the third book, “Mars,” once “Juno” is published.

In “Thunder Lake,” Pfaff sets the scene and tells about the original four magical humans that gained their powers from Zeus, Hera, Hades and Poseidon, as well as a man named Warlock, a descendant of the original four. “Juno” and “Mars” tell the stories of two more descendants.

As for the last two books, that depends on how “Mars” turns out. Pfaff keeps a general outline of the story in her head, but as she writes, the characters often make choices that alter the story Pfaff planned to write.

“The characters are coming alive in my head,” she said.

Pfaff doesn’t tend to write notes about her characters or the storyline. Since she has dyslexia, it’s easier to just keep it all in her head. When she writes, she keeps her phone handy so she can look up how to spell words she doesn’t know. Spell check and her phone’s talk-to-text program help, too.

“I type it, and if I don’t know how to spell it, I’ll ask my phone,” she said.

Pfaff started off writing fan fiction — stories based on the characters of popular movies, TV shows and books that are written by fans — and published some stories online as a hobby throughout her life. Then her husband, Jason, convinced her that she could write her own story and realize her dream of publishing a book. She started writing “Thunder Lake” in 2014, and it hit the market in April 2017. “Juno” took about a year to write.

Pfaff currently works full time at Jasper Engines and writes on the weekends. Eventually, she’d like to write full time.

“I don’t want to get my hopes up to make a lot of money,” she said. “Just enough to be comfortable.”

Unique Airbnb is a book lover’s dream come true – | Continuous News

There’s no easy way to get to Wigtown. Planes and trains stop hours shy of the remote village on Scotland’s sea-swept west coast. With so much peace and quiet, it almost makes sense that the tiny town, population 900, has 14 book-themed shops, reported CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti. 

But nothing compares to the relative newcomer, the Open Book, whose simple shelves of used novels and non-fiction are attracting book lovers from all over the world.

“I had a bit of a look into it and thought, ‘yes, it is right up my alley,'” said Kristie Vidotto, an English teacher with a dream of owning her own book shop. 

At the Open Book, that dream is brought to life. A rotating cast of tourists gets the keys to their very own bookshop. It’s part of a unique Airbnb listing by aspiring Los Angeles screenwriter Jessica Fox.

Kristie Vidotto inside The Open Book. (CBS News photo)

“What is it about books that attracts you so much?” Vigliotti asked. 

“It is the lifestyle. You know, it’s really odd, because I’m not a big reader,” Fox said. “Not at all. I like the movie versions of things way better.”

The Open Book feels like it belongs in a movie, all of it a product of Fox’s imagination.

“I knew it was Scotland. I could kind of see myself in this woolly jumper. I could like hear the rain outside. I could smell the bookshop. I could see myself behind the counter reading a book,” Fox said.

Google led her to Wigtown, and when her Airbnb listing went live in 2015, many followed.

“There was a couple in their 80s who had just gotten married and they did this as a honeymoon. So already that’s quite amazing,” Fox said. 

Wigtown, Scotland (CBS News photo)

The bookshop and its upstairs living quarters are booked through 2020.

Guests at the Open Book pay about $50 a night to work for free. They can change the window displays, business hours and even the prices. But with so many book shops and so few residents, visitors tend to read more than they sell, including words of wisdom from previous shopkeepers.

“A lot of people who’ve worked here have agreed if you play James Taylor people like slow down and like read more books and will buy more books which is interesting. He’s like the secret to bookshops,” Fox joked.

Other tips of the temporary trade are penned in the Open Book’s diary.

“Accept all or as many possible invitations from local residents who stop by the shop. People in Wigtown are very friendly. So make it a priority to meet them,” one tip reads.

For Kristie Vidotto, this a holiday for the imagination, a world that in one week’s time will be handed over to another wanderlust.

“What’s it like to be sitting in the middle of your dream realized?” Vigliotti asked Fox. 

“I guess then the real question is, like, what do I dream next?”

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What your dreams are trying to tell you and what to do about them, according to dream analyser Ian Wallace

If you’ve ever fought to wake yourself from a nightmare, Ian Wallace has some advice for you: don’t.

The prominent dream psychologist says staying within the dream, facing your fear and taking control of events can be beneficial to your well-being. He believes the images conjured in the mind during slumber are linked to someone’s abilities and needs in the real world; you just need to look closely and read into the symbols encoded within.

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According to Wallace’s technique, dreams are a powerful reflective tool that can act as a compass pointing towards needs the dreamer didn’t even know they had.

“When you create a dream, you’re creating a story about how to fulfil your fundamental needs through resolving emotional tension,” the UK-based interpreter explains.

The psychologist, broadcaster and author visited Hong Kong this week to run workshops for guests on the Genting Dream cruise ship on how to navigate their dreams and use them to their advantage. “Being on a ship is a very common dream,” he says. “Any time you dream of water, you’re dreaming about your emotions and feelings. I work with images and the language around them. We have all these idioms, like: ‘I’m at a low ebb, I’m pouring my heart out, I’m in floods of tears.’ A boat is how you navigate your way through emotional experiences.”

You’re sending yourself a message unconsciously about an opportunity in your waking life to do something. And when you don’t pay attention to it, you turn up the volume and make it a bit scarier to get your own attention

Ian Wallace

Wallace’s technique, which uses linguistic and visual symbolism, is based on the notion that dreams are the result of a person’s subconscious trying to draw something to their attention regarding their waking existence. Through reading into symbols and looking for patterns, dreamers might discover something about themselves that makes things clearer in the real world. In his words, “dreaming is a sense-making process” – even those sweat-inducing ones where you’re being chased up a tree by a ravenous bear.

“You’re sending yourself a message unconsciously about an opportunity in your waking life to do something. And when you don’t pay attention to it, you turn up the volume and make it a bit scarier to get your own attention,” he explains. “A bear is a very powerful animal, but it’s also very protective and nurturing. Dreaming about being chased by one would suggest you have some very powerful creative ability in waking life that you’re being too protective of. That’s what’s chasing you: an opportunity in real life to reveal a powerful, wise talent, then that’s what you need to do.

“Your reaction to the dream would be to ask yourself: where am I not using a really powerful, wise talent? That’s how it works.”

Over the past three decades, he claims to have analysed almost 300,000 dreams, and has found that the most common dream, transcending culture and epoch, is being chased.

“In the dream, if you can turn around to whatever’s pursuing you and say ‘Who are you and what do you need?’ then you’ll hear an answer coming back. Whatever’s scaring you is some part of yourself. When you ask what do you need, you’ll get some idea of the resources you might need to acquire in waking life to fulfil that ambition.”

For those not plagued with heart-racing nightmares every night, being able to pinpoint something as discrete as a bear chase might be difficult; in reality, dreams are often much more muddled and vague, involving seemingly disparate scenes. Wallace would look at how different events and symbols link together to create the story.

He has written two books: The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams and The Top 100 Dreams Book which are encyclopaedia-style guides to many of the most common dreams and the symbolism within.

A loose tooth, for example, “suggests that you are losing confidence in your own abilities in some area of your day-to-day life”, as Wallace advises one enquirer on his website. The solution, he offers, is to begin to act more confidently, which will make you feel more confident and inspire others’ faith in you.

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The first step is being able to remember the dream, says Wallace, who advises keeping a dream journal next to the bed. “You start to see themes, symbols and connections.” To help build the process into a daily routine, Wallace uses “will, still and fill”.

“Tonight when you go to bed, say I will remember the dream. Set the intention. When you wake up, lie completely still. As soon as you start to move you lose dream imagery. As you lie still, you get imagery coming back to you in the form of snapshots. All you have to do is fill in the gaps.”

Even for those who don’t have a copy of Wallace’s books to hand, stripping back nightly reveries to the useful parts can be done by “working with the image” and looking for deeper meaning.

When you create a dream, you’re creating a story about how to fulfil your fundamental needs through resolving emotional tension

Ian Wallace

When recounting dreams to friends and loved ones, we find ourselves embellishing events and fill in the gaps to make the narrative flow more coherently, which can help elucidate the real meaning of the dream. “Embellishing and mythologising a dream is the best thing you can do with it. Because then it becomes a powerful story.”

Wallace also discourages people from using words like “weird” and “strange” to describe dreams to others, who’ll switch off. Instead, he suggests it’s more effective to say, “here’s a story from my dream” to grab people’s attention.

In popular culture, dream divining is very much the preserve of the crystal ball-toting mystic, an image Wallace wants to distance himself from. With an approach posited as a happy medium between psychic interpretation and lab-based science using brain scans, he prioritises positive and healthy outcomes, yet doesn’t like to get too bogged down in the cerebral cortex.

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Wallace says one should avoid being too literal when reading into dreams. “Just about every other dream interpreter works in a negative way – it’s all about limitation and scary things The second most common dream is about teeth falling out.

“There are so many old wives tales about this. In some cultures it means a grandparent is about to die, which is crazy. If you’re being pursued by a bear, you don’t need to go around watching out for bears – you have to think about what that means as an image,” he says.

“If you think the dream is a message from yourself, this unconscious process generates an amazing story. If you use it positively – take it as part of you that you can ask yourself questions around – you can get to a healthier outcome. It’s all about increasing well-being, and doing that very productively and effectively, rather than doom and gloom.”

Of course, Wallace’s method isn’t without its sceptics; he says he is often targeted – to the point of death threats – by those who are adamant that dreams can’t be analysed even from a psychological standpoint. “But having done that 270,000 times I think you can,” he says. “[Dream interpretation] is still very much the realm of fortune-tellers and soothsayers. One of my main ambitions is to move it on from that.”

Wake up! It’s time to stop treating sleep deprivation as a badge of honour

The Scotsman’s passion for dreaming stems from when he was just two years old and woke up one night after a particularly vivid dream about a stream train. In the morning, his father took him to stand on a railway bridge and experience a passing train for real. “As the smoke dissipated, Dad turned to me and said, ‘That’s what a dream is.’ Ever since then, I’ve found that so powerful and visceral.”

He carried that passion through studying psychology at university, despite lecturers discouraging him from focusing on studying dreams. Now, dream analysis takes up “about 40 per cent” of his work; the rest of the time he works as an organisational psychologist within companies.

A bear is a very powerful animal, but it’s also very protective and nurturing. Dreaming about being chased by one would suggest you have some very powerful creative ability in waking life that you’re being too protective of

Ian Wallace

The best-quality, most memorable dreams require restful sleep. “If you have poor quality sleep or don’t give yourself enough sleep, it very often results in early onset dementia. It often leads to cognitive breakdown,” he says.

“[Former British prime minister] Margaret Thatcher [who suffered dementia in her later years] is an example of that: she would boast about only needing three of four hours while she was prime minister.”

As for US President Donald Trump, Wallace says: “I’m sure he has really disturbing dreams because he’s a very poor sleeper.”

Healthy habits of mind bring happiness and can be learned – even by the busy

Ultimately, whether you subscribe to Wallace’s technique, or believe it still sits firmly in the realm of what he would term “pointy hat woo-woo”, the desire to make sense of dreams, which form one twelfth of our lives, will continue to compel scientists and occultists alike. Why not make self improvement the focus, Wallace suggests.

“Your dreams are how you imagine yourself, the ultimate selfie. You always have more power and choice than you think you do. Once you realise your dreams give you that, you can transfer it to waking life. The fundamental advice is enjoy them: enjoy what you make,” Wallace says.