Michael McGirr’s new book deals with all things sleep-related: dreams, nightmares, sedatives, stimulants, narcolepsy, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even homelessness, reports The Seattle Times.

McGirr uses his own ailment as the launchpad for this eclectic study of all things sleep-related, bringing his own curious personal history into it while he’s at it. A former Jesuit priest who left the order to marry and have children, McGirr is a man of letters who has a wild and woolly way with his erudition. Plato, Virgil, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher and others all turn up in his wide-ranging study.