I'm trying to find a story from the '50's about a man who travels to another dimension by staring at a spinning top. In this dimension, at a certain age, people get put into a room with a TV and never come out.
This novel is called Ring around the Sun, and its author is Clifford D. Simak.
There some humans (called "mutants") could travel to a number of parallel worlds, exactly as you describe.
"You remember the top, Crawford?" asked Vickers. "The one that was in my room that night?"
"I remember it."
"You spun it and it vanished," said Vickers.
"And it came back again."
"Crawford, why did you spin that top?"
Crawford licked his lips nervously. "Why, I don't really know. It might have been an attempt to rescue boyhood, an urge to be a boy again."
"You asked me what the top was for."
"You told me it was for going into fairyland and I told you that a week before I would have said that we were crazy - you for saying a thing like that and I for listening to you."
Crawford shook his head. "I can't understand it, Vickers. It doesn't make any sense, but I went into that fairyland once myself. Just like you, when I was a kid. I remembered it after I talked to you. Maybe because I talked to you. I remembered once I had sat on the floor and watched the top go round and wondered where the stripes were going - you know how they come up and disappear and then another one comes up and disappears. I wondered where they went and I got so interested that I must have followed them, for all at once I was in fairyland and there were a lot of flowers and I picked a flower and when I got back again I still had the flower and that's the way I knew I'd really been in fairyland. You see, it was winter and there were no flowers and when I showed the flower to mother..."