Stream of Consciousness Reading

Book Recommendations

The following is a list of books written in Stream of Consciousness. I have read most of them and on another Hub I will review many of them; however, at this time, I am publishing a list so if you are interested in reading a novel written in the stream of consciousness style, you can pick one of these up and begin to enjoy this style of writing.

Mrs. Dalloway (Hardcover)

by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse (Paperback)

by Virginia

The Sound and the Fury (Paperback)

by William Faulkner

Ulysses (Paperback)

by James Joyce

As I Lay Dying (Paperback)

by William Faulkner

The Waves (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)

by J.D. Salinger

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Paperback)

by James Joyce

Tropic of Cancer (Paperback)

by Henry Miller

On the Road (Paperback)

by Jack Kerouac

Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1)

by Marcel Proust

Absalom, Absalom! (Paperback)

by William Faulkner

Orlando (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

Jacob's Room (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

Between the Acts (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

Gravity's Rainbow (Paperback)

by Thomas Pynchon

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2)

by Marcel Proust

The Bell Jar (Paperback)

by Sylvia Plath

Notes from Underground (Paperback)

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Beloved (Toni Morrison Trilogy #1)

by Toni Morrison

The Appointment (Hardcover)

by Herta Müller

Under the Volcano (Paperback)

by Malcolm Lowry

A Room of One's Own (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

Light in August (Paperback)

by William Faulkner

The Great Gatsby (Paperback)

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dubliners (Paperback)

by James

Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time, #4)

by Marcel Proust

The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time, #3)

by Marcel Proust

Hopscotch (Paperback)

by Julio Cortázar

The Fall (Paperback)

by Albert Camus

Wide Sargasso Sea (Paperback)

by Jean Rhys

Requiem for a Dream (Trade Paperback)

by Hubert Selby Jr.

By Night in Chile (Paperback)

by Roberto Bolaño

How Late It Was, How Late (Paperback)

by James

How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Hardcover)

by Sarah Bakewell

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

NW (Hardcover)

by Zadie Smith

Black Water (Paperback)

by Joyce Carol Oates

Infinite Jest (Paperback)

by David Foster Wallace

The Years (Paperback)

by Virginia Woolf

Confessions of a Mask (Paperback)

by Yukio Mishima

Invitation to a Beheading (Paperback)

by Vladimir Nabokov

The Captive & The Fugitive (In Search of Lost Time, #5-6)

by Marcel Proust

Visions of Cody

by Jack Kerouac

Nausea (Paperback)

by Jean-Paul Sartre

Tropic of Capricorn (Paperback)

by Henry Miller

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Mass Market Paperback)

by Ken Kesey

Stream of Consciousness - My Thoughts

As a writer develops a story written in Stream of Consciousness, he/she tell the story through images and thoughts of a character in the moment and constantly moving forward. Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway moves flawlessly throught the timeline of the story - making To-Do lists and mentally checking them off as she completes the tasks. When an event happens in the story, Mrs. Dalloway reacts at the time of the event in the very moment it occurred. In comparrison to a regular narrative - The author may write of one happening in the plot and then write of another - the two occurring at the same moment, but discussed differently and the characters are not registering instant responses and moving forward - they are more often than not - reflecting on events.

The stream of consciousness allows the writer to write a character who is living and breathing as they walk across the page - the reader will feel they are walking and breathing with the character. For instance, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is remembering the story of her childhood and she is telling the story from her point of view as she remembered it; keeping in mind Harper Lee wrote Scout's rememberances in present tense, the narrative itself is a story from the past not the present. In the Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway reacts to events in a story he is living in the moment. Other characters in Gatsby, speak of rememberances, but Nick is in the moment - thinking, breathing, reacting and moving forward as he narrates the story of Jay Gatsby.

Virginia Woolf is one of the greatest stream of consciousness writers. She wrote most of her novels in the style of stream of consciousness. Many people do not like this style of writing because it is difficult to follow, especially if you are more familiar with the standard narrative novel. However, I would encourage you to read a stream of consciousness novel like Mrs. Dalloway - and feel the feelings which are associated with living in the moment alongside a character. It is liberating!

You see, in my humble opinion, stream of consciousness writing style provides the reader with an uninterrupted reading experience. I can pick up a book and start right at the same point as the character. Some writers in narrative will offer up a character profile before the reader even gets to meet the character. The writer has built a shell so to speak...and we are human...so our first judgement of a character is defined by what the author wants us to think of the character, not an opinion formed by us the reader. This makes liking a character and not liking a character contingent on the first description of the character...in stream of consciousness, the reader starts at the point where the character begins the journey. The thoughts, feelings, activities, focus and mood of the character describes who the character is and from this information you can glean your own opinion and decide if you like this person or if you don't.

For instance, in Mrs. Dalloway the first line is "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

Right off you know the character has an errand to run and this is where her journey begins. So she is off to get flowers - you have no idea what the flowers are for as of yet, because she is only thinking about getting the flowers.

Now in contrast, Hemingway in the Old Man and the Sea - he writes "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."

You see the difference...Mrs. Dalloway is telling you she is going to get the flowers herself but in the Old Man and the Sea - Heminway the author tells you what the character is doing. As both stories unfold, Dalloway reveals what the flowers are for, her thoughts throughout the day, her feelings about one thing or another....Hemingway, describes the man and the sea and the fish and the boat and his hut and his life and the only point you the reader get to interact personally with the character is in conversation.

Simply this is the difference plain and simple between stream of consciousness and narrative writing.

If I really want to escape when I am reading, enjoying a novel written in stream of consciousness style is the perfect way to do it. You are not being told about the story and you have to imagine the thoughts and feelings and sensations of the characters, places, and time while reading a narrative novel. In stream of consciousness, you live the novel...you walk side by side with the author starting with the first line of the novel.

Try it - read one on the the list and write me or post on this Hub and let me know how you like it....I am curious how it changes your views on reading.

Voice recording of Virginia Wolf

Reading Poll

Which style do you prefer?

  • Stream of Consciousness
  • Narrative
See results without voting

Video Example of Stream of Consciousness

© 2013 Cara Livingston

3 comments

Tania 3 years ago

So do we need to know the stream of consciousness ? And what is the reality of this?


Carasue profile image

Carasue 3 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Tania, Stream of Consciousness is a writing style...the character in the book is telling the story moment by moment - it is their reality. There is not a set plot which the story follows...the regular conventions of writing do not apply...it is a character telling you what they are doing as the story moves along. I guess to answer your first question, the stream of consciousness is the character's thoughts, so no as the reader you just follow along, you will not know what happens next, it is unpredicatable without foreshadowing. And to answer your second question, yes it is the character's reality not the readers.


TessSchlesinger profile image

TessSchlesinger 18 months ago from South Africa

Wow! That is simply not true. Stream of Consciousness just means that the information comes to one through the unconscious mind. If a bad story comes to one through the unconscious mind, it is still a bad story. It has nothing to do with the type of story one writes.

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