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Ghost

2.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  867 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews
Alan Lightman's first novel, Einstein's Dreams, became an international best seller and was hailed by Salman Rushdie as "at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written." His novel The Diagnosis, called "highly original and imaginative" by The New York Times, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Now comes a stunning and dist ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,577)
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Nick Duretta
May 21, 2014 Nick Duretta rated it really liked it
This book was frustrating. On one hand, its marvelously written, with fascinating characters and a complex theme--the very nature of reality. On the other hand, I had trouble accepting the book's base premise--that a man who claims to have seem something ghost-like rise from a dead body would become the focus of such a high degree of fame and scrutiny. In addition, the man himself, forty-ish and unassuming, is almost ghost-like himself. In early chapters we learn that, although he was an excelle ...more
Sara
Jul 24, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
A book where nothing happens and yet everything happens. The division between this world and the next, black and white, science versus faith, fact, fiction, the supernatural, the wisdom of baring a personal experience to others who abuse that trust - it's all here. It's also written in the present tense which gives it a different tone - the slowing down of conciousness, the sense of seeing everything in slow motion as it actually happens.

This book is a slow-paced, story of a man who works at a m
...more
Lori
Feb 13, 2008 Lori rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone who is more interested in contemplating the supernatural than really reading about it.
Shelves: fiction
Hmmm... Definetly not what I was expecting. I am a little upset, I feel as tho I didnt get my moneys worth on this one (I bought it at full price in Hardcover)

I thought I was going to be reading a novel about a guy who sees something... a ghost, or whisp, coming out of a dead body in the mortuary he worked at. However, while that is in essence what the book is, I found that I was really reading a novel that just asks "which camp are you in"? Are you a believer in the supernatural- the 'second' w
...more
Darlene
Jan 26, 2014 Darlene rated it really liked it
This novel, a recommendation from a friend, was not at all what I expected.. it actually turned out to be much more than I expected. At the beginning of the story, we meet David Kurzweil. All we seem to know is that David appears to be having a breakdown of sorts... at the very least, he is wrestling with something that has happened to him.. a sort of battle between the logical and reasonable part of him and the other part, which questions life, its meaning and all of those intangibles that can ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This started out with so much potential.
Then it fell flat.
I hate when this happens. :/
Sheryl
Mar 17, 2010 Sheryl rated it liked it
More of a story about believing in ghosts, than ghosts. Not what I expected. Well written.
Laura
May 06, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
I've loved Alan Lightman since first reading Einstein's Dreams. Pursuing him into his novels has been a bit of a disappointment, however. He utilizes a unique combination of the scientific and the artistic, but I often find myself wanting more depth to the big ideas he tackles.

This book conveys well the uncertainty of memory and the sensory experience. Lightman's writing style portrays a deeply unsettled protagonist who thinks he experienced a "supernatural" event, and follows him as he tries t
...more
Kate
Mar 10, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
I throughly relished this novel. What a magnificent philosophical debate on the afterlife and beliefs. This book was so eloquently framed and wonderfully written that I couldn't put it down. I really liked the details of the funeral home and the haunted quality the book possessed on every page.

David, the main character is your average joe. He has a boring job (at the bank). He has a routine and everything seems to be moving along just fine until he is laid off at the bank and takes a job at the
...more
Andrew
Apr 03, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still trying to decide if I like this book or REALLY like this book. Lightman tells an unconventional story in an unconventional way. David Kurzweil is middle aged and laid off from his job at a bank. He finds work in a family-run funeral home, where he discovers that he has a skill for working with the grieving families of the deceased. He becomes a part of the funeral homes "family," and comes to look upon the owner as a surrogate father. He's been divorced for some time, but still carries ...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Jul 11, 2011 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it it was amazing
Forty-two-year-old David Kurzweil, divorced and a law school dropout, subsists on diner food and lives in an apartment building with a Greek chorus of similarly unattached men.

So demoralising was his abrupt dismissal from the bank where he worked for nearly a decade that the only employment he’ll take is as a mortuary apprentice — a literal life in death.

David finds an adoptive family at the funeral parlor, benevolently ruled by an agoraphobe named Martin. While working in the slumber room, whe
...more
Ezzy
Dec 28, 2012 Ezzy rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
I can't decide which was the more annoying thing about this book.
1) The scientists in this book, and how they react to the "supernatural", bear no relation to actual scientists and their world. As a scientist and statistician, I feel maligned. Hard to get past that. Lightman sets up these straw-man characters to make his point about how science doesn't believe in the supernatural and can't stand that some people do. Also, real academics would never be dragged into the sort of insanely stupid "de
...more
Margaret
May 15, 2012 Margaret rated it did not like it
When I see a book with Haunt, Ghost, etc. in the title I expect the author to deliver. Instead the only "ghost" we're entreated to is a three second vapor that the leading protagonist witnessed emitting from a dead body. That's it, no more spookfest! The rest of the novel deals with the protagonist's preoccupation with what he saw, questioning what is, what isn't and being half terrified that it was in fact a spirit that he saw for three to five whole seconds. The protagonist was an extremely un ...more
Diane Klajbor
May 05, 2015 Diane Klajbor rated it liked it
Very strange book. You never find out exactly what David saw in the funeral home, but whatever he saw changed his life completely. There's a lot of philosophy in this book. There are also characters that don't add anything to the story. I checked this book out of the library thinking it would be about ghosts. It was about much more. Interesting, but misleading.
Teri
Jul 05, 2015 Teri rated it liked it
This books is the story of a man who believes he sees something strange while working in a funeral home. He is not sure if it is really a "ghost" but knows that he saw something that he cannot explain. Most of the book is about him searching for an answer, wanting to prove that he didn't just imagine it or isn't going crazy. The book is very well written and interesting, but in my opinion, not nearly scary enough. The book is more about whether ghosts exist than there being one.
Katie
Apr 26, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
I thought this was a mediocre read - there were just too many plot points that seemed not very credible and it distracted me (usually I'm pretty laid back about that kind of thing, but not with this one). I did enjoy some of the passages where he talks about what he calls the "totality", i.e. the thin membrane between the world of the living and that of the dead, and how quickly the future becomes the past. In that way it was more of a philosophical musings kind of book rather than just a ghost ...more
John
Mar 19, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library_books, ebooks
Although I never quite understood exactly what it was that the main character "saw" in the funeral home, I decided that it really didn't matter. I was interested in how his situation turned out, finding the ending satisfactory, if not terrific. The secondary characters were quite well done, not cluttering this relatively short novel at all. My main concern was that I feel I may have missed the larger (philosophical) point. But, even if so, and I enjoyed reading the book, is that all truly import ...more
Lissa Johnston
Mar 17, 2016 Lissa Johnston rated it really liked it
What a refreshing palate cleanser after reading a couple of YA books. Ghost reminded me that I am a relatively well-educated and intelligent grownup, and as such am able to enjoy (dare I say, deserve) a more challenging level of entertainment. It's the story of an average guy who sees something extraordinary while working at a mortuary. He responds to this in an ordinary way - doubt, fear, confusion. And of course, since he is a man, he hesitates to mention it to anyone. But inevitably word of h ...more
Drew
Apr 06, 2015 Drew rated it it was ok
Not a ghost story. More a contemplative novel on reality, memory, fate, and the nature of belief. I can relate somewhat to the main character David (and feel bad so many other reviewers disparaged him) and his drifting at sea in middle age. The entire book seems to exist in a dream-like, David Lynchian universe, the setting for this story is never named, there's a body of water but also an earthquake mentioned. It is a assumed that it is a small town, only because news of this guy's five second ...more
Isis Buxani
Mar 25, 2016 Isis Buxani rated it it was ok
Life is too short to bother yourself trying to finish an awful book.
Anita
Jan 19, 2015 Anita rated it it was ok
Despite its title, the book is not about the supernatural. Being written by a theoretical physicist, it dabbles more in quantum mechanics -- and even at that, not much, just a couple of experiments to determine if the event was imagined or conjured. In fact, there is only one or two lines about what was perceived to have been sighted. Throughout, it was merely referred as the protagonist having "seen something." There was a sense of anticipative build-up as the book advanced, but the "hurrah" di ...more
Fatema Johera Ahmed
Apr 02, 2015 Fatema Johera Ahmed rated it liked it
How do you know something is true if it happens only once to someone else? This question becomes the central concern of a plot in which nothing much happens after the protagonist's first sighting of a strange vision in the slumber room of a mortuary.
With this begins the power struggles between science and reason and faith and the other world that the dead are presumed to go to.
David straddles the contesting worlds in his attempt to place his own one off empirical evidence, a vapor he had seen
...more
Kelly
Sep 08, 2014 Kelly rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julia
Oct 05, 2011 Julia rated it liked it
Alan Lightman is a theoretical physicist as well as a novelist, and has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT. In fact, he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment at MIT in science AND in the humanities.

His small gem, EINSTEIN'S DREAMS, is one of my favorites; it explores the possibility of alternate, parallel universes. So I was curious to see what GHOST would be like, sent in the form of a novel.

The basic premise is that the protagonist, David, who has lost his wife and
...more
Suzy
Jul 30, 2011 Suzy rated it liked it
I just picked this book up on a whim, but was interested to read that the author is a physicist who has studied/taught at MIT, Harvard, etc., at various times in his life. Normally, I would not be drawn to read a book titled "Ghost," so, it's a curious confluence. Ghost is a well-written philosophical novel about a disappointed and underachieving man who comes to work in a mortuary, where the owner becomes a father figure to him. The protagonist, David, has a couple of "families"--the men who li ...more
Brisbride13
Dec 10, 2012 Brisbride13 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
King
Aug 27, 2011 King rated it really liked it
Loved it. Loved it's subtleties. Loved the pace. I was thinking of giving it three stars but those curve balls in the end were brilliant.

It reminded me of Terrence Mallick's film "The Tree of Life," in the sense that it puts out questions but doesn't really give answers. As the book largely deals with existence, it's nature, I thought this was...umm... I don't know. Appropriate? Many a times I find myself pondering the ultimate question of "what and why the fuck are we all here?"(I find this qu
...more
NYLSpublishing
Aug 26, 2008 NYLSpublishing rated it liked it
Recommended to NYLSpublishing by: The NYLS Book Review
A friend from my university days once joked that the problem with most books is that they seek to be read. I agreed with this assessment at the time and perhaps still do. But, every now and again a quirky work finds its way through the murk and brings with it a smile.


Lightman’s Ghost is an amorphous tale centered on David – a former bank employee now working in a mortuary. David’s troubles begin when he sees (or thinks he sees) some ethereal manifestation emanating from a body in one of the mort
...more
Cindy Huffman
Apr 29, 2012 Cindy Huffman rated it did not like it
This book was on a list recommending it. Why, I do not know.

I thought this would be about a ghost. Instead, it turns out to be 'something David couldn't believe he saw' in the slumber room of a mortuary that David worked at.

Obviously, the book is from David's perspective. And let me tell you, David is one mucked up fella. And we read on and on and on and on about David's boring, depressing, brooding, thoughts throughout the 240 pages of this book.

At some point, I was bored to tears and glazed ov
...more
Ron Charles
Dec 03, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
Alan Lightman's new novel, Ghost, does not contain a werewolf, a vampire or Patrick Swayze. It may not even contain a ghost. No knife-wielding ventriloquist's doll carves up these chapters. If you're looking for hell hounds, you're barking up the wrong tree. Ghost is by no means the scariest supernatural tale you could read on Halloween -- King is still king -- but it may be the smartest, and for that reason it ends up being a hell of a lot more unsettling than a horde of flesh-eating zombies.

A
...more
L.J.
Jan 30, 2009 L.J. rated it liked it
I have to say this book gets better as it goes on. My problem with it is that the characters only seem to really begin to feel real just before the book ends. The first 80 pages feel distant, flat-- the characters don't seem to have volume or weight. This could be chalked up to the idea that the main character has been living a kind of half-existence, recoiling from spontaneity and the messiness of human contact-- for some time. But I'm not sure it's entirely a stylistic choice as much as the su ...more
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Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist, and essayist born in Memphis, Tennessee. He is an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the international bestseller Einstein's Dreams.

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“... part of the grief was that each member of the family was mourning his own mortality.” 0 likes
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