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What Dreams May Come

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  11,389 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews
The New York Times bestseller


What happens to us after we die? Chris Nielsen had no idea, until an unexpected accident cut his life short, separating him from his beloved wife, Annie. Now Chris must discover the true nature of life after death.

But even Heaven is not complete without Annie, and when tragedy threatens to divide them forev
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published September 1978)
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Shaun No It's not, This book was written years before the movie was even thought of, I read this book in the eighties, amazing book, amazing concept , the f…moreNo It's not, This book was written years before the movie was even thought of, I read this book in the eighties, amazing book, amazing concept , the film totally messed it up(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,389 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews

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I enjoyed this thought provoking book. I have read Matheson before and I like his writing style. I feel like his prose is such that it will draw a wide variety of people in. The fact that it is so accessible with very little filler or unnecessary flowery-ness is a plus for me.

When deciding whether or not to read this book, you must think about how you feel about stories that conjecture about the afterlife. If that is a touchy subject for you or you are uncomfortable reading about possibilities o
Paul Bryant
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Unique, mindblowing and utterly preposterous heap of outrageous twaddle. Richard Matheson, author of the great apocalypse novel I Am Legend, decides to take on The Big One full frontal with no messing about. This novel describes exactly what happens to us after we die. The Afterlife! In full surroundsound 3D Panavision!

So a guy is sitting peacefully at home in 1976 when a strange visitor calls : “I am a psychic type medium and your dead brother Chris has dictated the whole of this manuscript thr
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well now, this one will get you to thinking about how you live your life!

Remember the movie GHOST with Patrick Swayze....that's what I first thought of when disaster strikes and a good man finds himself watching the love of his life as she grieves his death. (no spoiler here)

Struggling to come to terms with his own demise from the great beyond and terribly missing his wife, Chris pleads to know when she will finally join him....but discovers disturbing news.

The storyline then turns to a plac

I am going to start this review by talking about the one thing that caused this to be a 4-star book rather than a 5-star book. That one thing is the author's note at the beginning.

Now, I almost never read author's notes or introductions, because I find that they inevitably ruin some aspect of the book for me. Whether it is a spoiler, or an introducer's opinion which causes me to think of the book in a certain way, or interpret things in a certain way, or whatever the case may be, it lessens my
As hard as I tried to make myself care about this book and its characters, I just could not.

First of all, it is very tedious, with too much exposition and endless infodumps in the dialogue form. The story gets so bogged down in the exposition that it becomes very dull to follow. At times it reads like a technical manual, with dry and repetitive narration. In this book, Matheson for the most part tells instead of showing, which makes it hard for me to enjoy the story. The characters are poorly fl
Rebecca McNutt
Also a film starring Robin Williams, this spectacular portrayal of life, death and interconnection is still as timely as ever, a classic tale that any reader can find meaning in.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
(My fan went out on my laptop again so I'm writing this from my iPhone. So if I misspell or something...)

I loved, absolutely loved this beautiful story. I don't agree with the theology. I'm a Christian. Nuf said bout that. The story reads like a myth or legend, and symbolism abounds for the lives we live. THE POWER OF LOVE. That phrase describes the theme. A man dies and goes to a heaven-like place. He wants his wife to come, but learns she has condemned herself to the lower regions through suic
Lubinka Dimitrova
I was probably not in the right mood for this book, it tired me, it was a bit verbose, a bit too dark, a bit repetitive... Still, the last few sentences made it worth reading the whole thing.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I picked this one up after I finished Barbara Gowdy's stories mainly because it was short and I wanted something quick to read and Hannibal wasn't being released for another couple of days. What a find.

This is the novel that the movie of the same name is based upon, starring Robin Williams. In the introduction, Matheson explains that the only fiction in this story are the characters and their relationships. The rest came from intensive research on the subject. The end product
makes so much sense
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book where I realized that I wasn't alone and crazy in my beliefs. Others also thought this way too! I recommend this story to all who have lost faith in the church. Who aren't religious, but believe that maybe, just maybe there is more.
I adore this book and author.
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Admittedly, I committed a cardinal literary sin by watching the movie before reading this book. In fact, I saw “What Dreams May Come” in the theater years ago and didn’t even know it was an adaptation (egad!) at the time. Nevertheless, I loved this book even though it differed significantly from the movie. Mr. Matheson’s research was quite impressive as he included a lengthy bibliography at the end of the novel. As someone who believes in an afterlife, I went into this journey suitably biased. H ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
First things first. In spite of being brought up in a Christian Orthodox environment, I don't consider myself a Christian. I guess you can call me an open-minded atheist. As for the afterlife, I think that all existing scenarios were created by the various religions either to concrete their earthly establishments, or to ease people's fear of dying, with the former being the most probable hypothesis. Personally, while recognizing that one can only speculate about this matter, I'm of the opinion t ...more
Josh Caporale
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I feel as if Richard Matheson is a brilliant writer that not enough people give credit to. He wrote I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man (often known as The Incredible Shrinking Man), Nightmare at 20,000 Feet for The Twilight Zone, Button, Button (which was adapted into the film The Box), and there was also this particular novel that touches upon death. While this book was published and released in 1978, many know about the film adaptation from 20 years later starring Robin Williams as Chris
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Anyone who is running low on decent reading material
This book begins with an immediate fallacy: the author gives an introduction claiming that all events that occur in the book are true-to-life (though shown through fictional characters). This reminded me of Dan Brown's similar claims in "The Da Vinci Code." The problem here is that theological supernature is impossible to prove simply through research. Given that science and other such worldly ventures are based in what limited PHYSICAL proof we have, I don't believe for a second that someone ca ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Preferring the book over the movie is kind of my thing and I am willing to say it even if it is one of the most cliché statements ever. It is rare for me to happen upon a movie that equals the book and to prefer the movie over the book, are you freaking kidding me?!?! In fact, I am trying to think of a time besides this one (because it is super obvious that is where I am headed) that this has happened. This might be the first, which kind of does amaze me. I will have to check in with the fam bec ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was entrance by this book.
A great book.....
Matheson at is best!!!!
Powerful written, with insight and guts.....
I recommend it to everyone who feels eternity in his heart!!!!
Kerry Casey
Amazing,Inspiring,Life changing.
Whether you choose to view this remarkable manuscript as a work of non-fiction or the latter, two things can be said. Richard Matheson is either a literary GENIOUS or this is the book EVERYONE has been waiting to read,yet may not know it.
A remarkable book which was meant for me to read. It has reinstated my faith in the afterlife, helped in understanding of certain elements of what I believe to be involved with the process of the afterlife, as well as incorporate
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
What was most fascinating to me was how well researched (though it's fiction) the book was. People who are familiar with "new age" and scientific discoveries on research into the afterlife from different perspectives won't fail to recognize many influences into this story. In addition, Matheson adds a bibliography of all the books he read before writing this work.

What most find memorable and touching about the story, which is the story of the way people who love each other strongly cope with lif
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was VERY different from the movie, though much of it was very similar. The book shies away from the idea of a "God", where as the movie has very heavy theological tones and even goes so far as to state that there is a God. I can't really say which one I liked better. I feel like the movie was was so... well, moving. It is difficult to watch it and not cry most of the way through it. The book is a far more intellectual endeavor, no doubt aided by the hefty reference material in the bibl ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that has been on my shelf since, well, I got my first bookshelf at age 8. It was one of the many hand-me-downs my mother bestowed to me to get my collection started. For this reason, I may be slightly biased, but I am and will always remain adamant in my love for this book.

I read it for the first time when I was ten or eleven, I can't remember specifically, and it was miles over my head at that time. Which is why I am so glad I came back to it now, when my mind can better compreh
May 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
Life on earth is only a panorama of vivid observations which seem real to you.

What happens after we die is a question people wonder about. The afterlife is debated about between the numerous religions in the world. This was Matheson's look at what that afterlife is like and how we affect what it will be. His running mantra throughout is that it is all in the mind...what we think, whether dead or alive, makes a difference to our lives and our deaths.

But, this was also a love story...It was a swee
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to stay on board with this character, Chris, and his adventures in the lands beyond death. The story is exciting, especially in the beginning, and has some gorgeous imagery (I love the "delicate purl of surf" Chris notices on the shore of the lake in Summerland). The story grows more tedious as it progresses and is so didactic that it gets boring and seems to go on for....well...yep, an eternity. Ann's helplessness and goodness is annoying, too, frankly. I was completely disguste ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
For once, the movie was much better than the book!
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Why did I put off reading this book for so long?

That's actually easy to answer. After losing my Dad I thought reading, in detail, about a man dying in a hospital, leaving his devastated family behind, and slowly moving into the afterlife would be difficult for me process.

To be clear, losing my Dad absolutely devastated me. The circumstances surrounding his death prevented me from grieving for the better part of a year. We didn't even get to celebrate his life and have his funeral for 10 months
Megan Lillian
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
I did not like this book. The most upsetting (and I suppose liberating to some) idea presented is that we, as human beings, are destined to create our own heavens and hells simply by our mental patterns. It struck me, as a trained social worker, that it is distinctly unfair that the mentally ill who suffer throughout an entire life time with depression/self-doubt/schizophrenia/etc. are limited by their very diseases to an eternity of post-mortem agony. Upsetting to say the least... If half the w ...more
Susi Lopera
Jul 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
The version of heaven in the book is very discriminatory and homogenous, and the discrimination really rather broke my heart. The book's heaven, Summerland, is "a place of perfection." At one point Chris sees a man without an arm. This armless is a depicted as an aberration, a problem upsetting the perfection of heaven. His singularity, his individuality and identity as a man who is missing an arm is depicted as a failing. He's lesser than everyone else because he is not enlightened enough to kn ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
"People are not punished for their deeds but by them. If only everyone believed that."
Many of Richard Matheson's short stories and novels take a supernatural premise and make it relatable through the use of the characters and their reactions to it.

This isn't the case with Matheson's What Dreams May Come. The novel is Matheson's attempt to look at what happens to us after death and while it's interesting, I never felt like it necessarily connected with me in the same way that other Matheson novels and short stories have.

Driving home, Chris Nielsen is killed in a car accident. Aft
Heidi Garrett
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
After watching the movie and reading reviews that said the book was better than the movie, I was very excited to read this book. However for me, the book wasn't better than the movie. I really wanted it to be, but I found the book cerebral, while the movie was quite emotional. The book is divided into three sections. The first and third sections are a bit too new-agey for my tastes. I enjoyed the middle section the most. But the end was rather preachy. I just don't believe that we are responsibl ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2003, 2015, favorites
This is one of those books that only provides a very loose basis for the movie. If you pick this book up expecting Robin Williams quips, you'll be sorely disappointed. What Dreams May Come is really more about the author delving into his thoughts about the afterlife. I had a hard time reading more than a few pages at once because my mind would start to churn with thoughts about life after death and it would be impossible to concentrate on the book. But it is an excellent book. Just not one
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Born in Allendale, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrant parents, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married in 1952 and has four children, three of w ...more

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