Spindles christmas.jpg

Spindles: Stories from the Science of Sleep, edited by Penelope Lewis and Ra Page can be bought in our sale HERE

Check out the other books in the 12 Days of Comma Sale HERE

What is it?

The relationship between sleep and storytelling is an ancient one. For centuries, sleep has provided writers with a magical ingredient – a passage of time during which great changes miraculously occur, an Orpheus-like voyage through the subconscious daubed with the fantastic. But over the last ten years, our scientific understanding of sleep has been revolutionised. No longer is sleep viewed as a time of simple rest and recuperation. Instead, it is proving to be an intensely dynamic period of brain activity: a vital stage in the re-wiring of memories, the learning of new skills, and the processing of problems and emotions.

How will storytelling respond to this new and emerging science of sleep? Here, 14 authors have been invited to work with key scientists to explore various aspects of sleep research: from the possibilities of ‘sleep engineering’ and ‘overnight therapies’, to future-tech ways of harnessing sleep’s problem-solving powers, to the challenges posed by our increasingly 24-hour lifestyles. Just as new hypotheses are being put forward, old hunches are also being confirmed (there’s now a scientific basis for the time-worn advice ‘to sleep on a problem’). As these responses show, sleep and the spinning of stories are still very much entwined.

Why this book?

We chose to include a few titles from our ‘Science-Into-Fiction’ series in the Christmas Sale because it is a unique concept that stems the gap between science and the arts in an imaginative way, which caters to those more scientifically inclined, or those more drawn to the fiction element, making it an excellent gift for expanding people’s usual reading habits.

Spindles specifically: what better subject to kick off with than sleep? People are always discussing their sleep – their excess, their lack, their dreams and nightmares – and the subject is steeped in metaphor. (Plus after eating a big Christmas dinner and knocking back a couple glasses of mulled wine, we all hit that sleepy phase oon the 25th December don’t we?) But as phrases like REM sleep become increasingly well-known, what other elements of sleep have been experimented upon, or discovered? Featuring Man Booker listed Deborah Levy, Adam Marek, and Ian Watson, to name only three, these stories allow us to explore those possibilities, whilst also making excellent bed-time reading.

Who should you buy it for?

Lovers of science who may not read a lot of fiction (a short story collection about to be dipped in and out of works well in this case); lovers of science who do read a lot of fiction (perfect!); people who enjoy attending museums like the Wellcome Collection, who supported the book; fans of films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception; and not forgetting people who love a lie in!

Digital Content

We asked Spindles contributor Isabella Hutchinson, a sleep researcher at the University of Manchester, to talk us through some of the key aspects of sleep. See below!

Plus, head over to MacGuffin to listen to and read some of the stories and afterwords from the anthology.


Andy Hedgecock – Counting Sheep

Claire Dean – Voice Marks

Zoe Gilbert – Thunder Cracks


Stephanie Romiszewski – Paradoxical Insomnia

Isabel Hutchison – Bad Dreams

Buy the anthology for only £6 HERE

Check out the other books in the 12 Days of Comma Sale HERE


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