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Einstein's Dreams

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  17,135 ratings  ·  1,735 reviews
A modern classic, Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failu...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Best Time Travel Fiction
74th out of 968 books — 3,129 voters
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Best Philosophical Literature
91st out of 536 books — 1,585 voters

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Community Reviews

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Riku Sayuj

Some of the best fun I have had in recent years of reading came in the two hours it took me to read this (including frantic back-tracks and hop-skips) fantastic book. Time is the hero of this collection and comes veiled in every twisted garb we can conceive, or rather, that Einstein can dream up. Einstein in his mad canter towards discovering the most revolutionary idea in science tumbles right down an imaginary wonderland in this book.

What comes out of the recesses of Einstein's brooding on the...more
How do you check the time?
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, you may simply swivel your eyes to the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or perhaps you wear a wrist watch so all you have to do is move your head slightly to check the time. Maybe you rely on your phone and then you have to make more of an effort, you have to put your hand in your pocket, pull out the phone and switch it on. No? You carry your phone in your hand at all times? Then checking the time has never been easier....more
Dec 07, 2012 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I had an awful Physics teacher at University, but one thing he was good at was getting the class to understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which has always fascinated me.

This book was brilliant. Imagine a world where time is a circle.Or a world where cause and effect are erratic. Or a world where time is not continuous. These are a few of the worlds Einstein dreams up while he's working on his Theory. Time is definitely a central theme in this book and few will be able to look at time (or l...more
May 04, 2009 lucke1984 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every Single person on the planet and beyond
Exquisite, Everyone should read this book, everyone should give this book away, it should be thrown from rooftops and forced upon youngsters. I will not venture to commingle a necessarily clunky and didactic summary with the poetic prose that is as much about the feeling stirred from reading each individual word than anything a summary could attempt. Suffice it to say that this book is excellent, beautiful and amazing, if a book is universally capable of changing your life... if only for a momen...more
What a fun, fast (relatively..pun intended) and thought-provoking read! Lightman presents easily over 20+ depictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Each little vignette unveils a different world of how to perceive time. If time were crystal ball, Lightman looks at this crystal ball from above, below, upside down, inside out, backwards, forward etc. Although some of the stories weren’t incredibly captivating — most were and I would suggest this book to any artist visual/musical/literary or p...more
Lightman -- interesting that his surname evokes Einstein -- has written a seemingly innocuous but profound little book. As I went through my daily chores today, any words rising to the surface of my consciousness as I thought of the review I would be writing later (which is now; though that 'now' exists no longer) sounded like cliches, easy to speak of Time in that way, as everything we say, think and do is full of references to Time and can be done only in Time.

Lightman's dream about the world...more
Saud Omar
من مدونتي: ثمانون كتابا بحثا عن مخرج



حصلت على نسخة من هذا العمل منذ خمس سنوات, ومنذ ذلك الحين وأنا أعيد
قراءته مره كل عام.

كتاب أحلام اينشتاين عبارة عن ثلاثين فصلاً قصيراً, كل فصل هو مزيج من القصة والفلسفة والعلم والتصوف بخصوص الزمن.

كل فصل يحكي قصة عالم مختلف للزمن فيه قصة مختلفه .. في أحد العوالم يكون الزمن دائري يكرر نفسه إلا ما لانهاية .. وفي عالم أخر يكون الزمن عبارة عن ثلاث ابعاد في كل بعد يكون لكل شخص قصة مختلفه .. وفي عالم أخر لا يوجد مستقبل .. وفي عالم أخر يتغير الماضي .. وفي...more
Brain candy on the subjective and shifting nature of time, relativity, and human existence. If Calvino's Invisible Cities explores fantasy in geography, then Einstein's Dreams explores fantasy and unreal times.
K.D. Absolutely
I bought this book at its regular price (P599=$14) in 1993. I tried reading it right away but after a few pages, I lost interest. Then last Good Friday, when I was dusting my tbr books, I saw this and it looked like a quick read so I put it on top of my stacks of books and yesterday I finished it in a couple of hours.

It is about various scenarios (or Einstein's or Lightman's dreams) where time is different from what we have and know it now. There are 13 of those and most of them are fascinating...more
This 179 page book took me four days to read. Not because it was difficult. In fact, the prose was exquisite and effortless in its beauty. It was because I wanted to read and cherish all of the novel's short vignettes rather than rush through. The book is a series of dreams, close to 30 in all, that Albert Einstein is dreaming as he struggles with his theory of relativity. Alan Lightman, a physicist himself, describes aspects of the theory and time itself through these descriptive "stories". Thi...more
I don't remember this book well enough to write a full review. But over a decade after reading it, one of the ideas presented in it has stayed with me. That idea was that there are people who function according to the rhythms of their bodies, and those who function according to the rhythms of the clock. The book suggested that a person can be one or the other, but not both. At the time I read it, I was in the process of shifting away from my clock-based life, and things have never quite been the...more
I didn't quite get this book. I am sure it simply went over my head. I'm no stranger to physics and what-not so I figured this would be a good read. My review below is evidence of my frustration with this book.

I don't understand how people not only rated this book so highly, but also claim to have had some kind of enlightening experience from having read it. I thought this book was incredibly kitchy. Each chapter is a vignette of a world with some perturbation in the way time itself works, and b...more
Frederic  Germay
I've got to start reading some bad books. I'm afraid my Goodreads average score is too high. Maybe I should read Twilig-- nah, never mind.

Einstein's Dreams was one of the better books I've come across in recent memory, much thanks to the recommendation of fellow Goodreader, Rowena Monde. For some reason, I expected something of a novel here, perhaps a single strand narrative of Einstein crafting his brilliant Theory of Relativity, but the book was more like a collection of stories. Each chapter,...more
Meriam Kharbat
June 1905,

A man sits on his desk, where a number of books lie open, and many sheets of paper, where unsuccessful mathematical formulas were stricken through, are scattered all around the floor. Today he has finished writing his third paper. He writes his name on the first page. He gathers his manuscript, takes a deep breath and leaves the house.

Behind the typewriter a young woman is typing the manuscript. She does not understand the equations, but she seems pleased with the title: «On the Elect...more
تدور كل الأعمال الأدبية بمختلف أشكالها و أغراضها حول المكان و الإنسان, حيث يختار الكاتب مكان القصة و الشخوص, و يبدأ التفاعل بين المكان و الشخوص في "إطار الزمن" ... و في كل الحالات يبقى الزمن إطاراً و شاهدا على ما يجري. هذا ينطبق على مجمل الأعمال الأدبية, الإبداعيّة منها و التاريخيّة.

هنا يأتي الكاتب و يقلب المعادلة, حيث لا يعود الزمن إطاراً, بل فاعلا في القصة ككل شخوصها!! حيث يتشكل "إطار الزمن" بأشكال عديدة, فمرة يكون دائريا و دوّاراً, و مرة يكون متقطّعاً, ز مرة متوقفاً, مورة أخرى يأتي الزمن متمد...more
Guillermo Azuarte

I don't smoke anymore, but man, If I did, this book would be perfect. There's not alot of narrative, its just a series of fictional dreams that Einstein would've had as he was hammering out his theory of time in the early 20th century.

There are brief narrative interludes that describe the times Besso and the ever so aloof Einstein share some time together, but most of the book consists of thought experiments on the nature of time.

The nameless human characters that are cast in these vignettes a...more
Jesse Houle
Aug 22, 2009 Jesse Houle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jesse by: Kate Tobin
A friend recommended this to me after I lent her God's Debris. I feel like if I read this before Scott Adams' book I might've liked it a little more but I still think it, while for the most part being a worthwhile read, was nothing incredible. Of course it doesn't cover a broad range of ideas like God's Debris as each chapter is simply a different take on time, and while I can see the similarities it's probably unfair to lump them in together as Lightman's book is, I'm afraid, quite a bit inferi...more
Book Concierge
Alan Lightman is a physicist. In this fiction debut he imagines the kinds of dreams Einstein might have had in the spring and early summer of 1905, when he was a patent clerk in Switzerland, and working on his theory of relativity. Each chapter is a different flight of fancy. In one time is a circle bending back on itself, so that the world repeats itself precisely, endlessly. In another Time has three dimensions, so that there are three perpendicular futures; at every point of decision the worl...more
Mar 22, 2008 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers and haters of time or the lack thereof
Shelves: fiction
this is one of the most amazing poetic explorations of einstein's theory of relativity i have ever read... technically it's considered a novel, but it's more like an essay collection in my opinion. i highly recommend this book. it gave me an entirely new perspective on viewing life and the meaning of "time".

from amazon:
The book takes flight when Einstein takes to his bed and we share his dreams, 30 little fables about places where time behaves quite differently. In one world, time is circular;...more
هالةْ أمين
تخيل حياتك في أزمنة مختلفة..!
مرات ترى ومضات من المستقبل عليه تقرر ماذا ستصنع في حاضرك
ومرات أنت حبيس زمن بطيء جدا لا يسير فتقضي اللحظة التعيسة أو الجميلة قرونا طوال
ومرات أنت تعيش في عالم مواز
وأخرى أنت حبيس ذكرى في الماضي لا تنفك تلاحقك وهكذا...
كتاب تخيلي جميل وممتع
أحيانا يصعب عليّ تخيل شكل الزمن الذي يفرضه ومرات أخرى أتمنى لو كانت في ذاك الزمن
ليست هناك فيزيائيات معقدة ولا مسائل حسابية
كتاب فلسفي تخيلي لطيف
Paakhi Srivastava
Fascinating to the core..a remarkable inquiry into the human experience with the instrument of time... The book is a compilation of vignettes each of which richly creates the notion of 'relativeity of time' built on confusions, contemplations, tragedies, triumphs and bewilderments characteristic of human existence...

Highly recommended
Oct 23, 2013 Richard rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: Riku Sayuj
Shelves: fiction
How astonishingly boring!

The interludes that actually involve Einstein are intriguing, but the meat of the book is a series of emotionally empty short stories that are merely intellectual fantasies regarding time. Nice prose, but there's nothing very compelling here.

Skip it.
Macon Kennedy
Feb 25, 2013 Macon Kennedy marked it as to-read
Shelves: own
Plotless yet riveting. Sporadic yet poetic. Complex yet elegant...

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman is one of the most unique book concepts I have come across in my reading. Plotless yet riveting. Sporadic yet poetic. Complex yet elegant. Caught off guard by the unusual concept idea it took several vignettes before I began to understand the fascinating nature of the book. It takes and extraordinary intellect to be able to gaze into the mind of Einstein as he imagines possible concepts of time....more

What an unusual little book. It is called a novel but it has no story. Albert Einstein works as a patent clerk in Switzerland. All we are told is that he is a young man about to mail a copy of his new theory of time to a German journal of physics, that he is married but neglects his wife, and that he is near the Aare River.

From that point on each short chapter is an example of what life would be like under different theories of what time is and how it works. These vignettes are like dreams. The...more
Bunga Mawar
I've told you once, guys, that I read this book for the first time last week, on my way back home with mikrolet M19 along Kalimalang. I reached page 80 something at the time.

Then I left it beside my bed, concentrated finishing Honeymoon with My Brother, and when I went back to Parung on Monday, this book was untouched. During the day I was curious, why did many people could give 5 stars for this book?

I spent a night in Jakarta last Wednesday, and this time I took this book to Parung with me the...more
Joan Winnek
Jul 29, 2010 Joan Winnek rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with inquiring minds
Recommended to Joan by: Debra Ratner
I'm reading this book slowly in Debra's summer novel course. A book well worth reading slowly, not really a novel but an exploration of time--like poetry, like music. Strong visual images suggest photographs and paintings. Writing is beautiful yet muscular and unsentimental. Each section draws the reader into a mind-bending philosophical possibility. Time is manipulated in discrete ways. This reminds me that fiction always manipulates and distorts time: this may be as important as place and poin...more
Einstein's Dreams is rather beautifully written, a collection of little vignettes about time. I don't understand physics and so on very well, really, but this is just a world of possibilities, as Einstein might have dreamt when he was coming up with his theories of time.

It's not very substantial, and it won't take long to read, but it's lovely. And I'm sure I started having strange dreams about time when I'd finished.
Mirvan  Ereon
This book is life-changing. the beauty and eloquence of the word and storytelling is simply magical. it is more of reflections and thoughts than an actual story which contemplates the nature of time in all its possibilities, strangeness and uniqueness. A must-read for it is light, easy and delectable. Truly an unforgettable book that I seek to immolate.
Beautiful, fantastical and deeply stirring.
Marc Kozak
This seemed like something that would be right up my alley, but man, were these 140 double-spaced pages hard to get through.

We get about 30 four-to-five page chapters that each cover how the world would work if the concept of time was different -- What if time moved at different speeds in different cities? What if people had no conception of the future? What if everyone's life span was only one day? Etc etc etc. Sounds cool, sure.

Unfortunately the writing is so lightweight that each five-page se...more
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can we really know time? 7 79 Sep 03, 2013 05:56PM  
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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.

More about Alan Lightman...
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“The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present.” 144 likes
“The tragedy of this world is that no one is happy, whether stuck in atime of pain or of joy. The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present. Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone.” 134 likes
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