Einstein's Dreams
Alan Lightman

Book cover image

Narrated By: Grover Gardner

Duration: 2 hours and 32 minutes

What to expect

In poetic vignettes, Einstein’s Dreams explores the connections between science and art, the process of creativity, and ultimately the fragility of human existence.

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, and people are fated to repeat their triumphs and failures over and over. In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children. In another, time is a nightingale, sometimes trapped by a bell jar.

Translated into thirty languages, Einstein’s Dreams has inspired playwrights, dancers, musicians, and painters all over the world. In poetic vignettes it explores the connections between science and art, the process of creativity, and ultimately the fragility of human existence.


Fiction: general and literary

Listen to a sample

“It is at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written.”

Salman Rushdie, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Impressionistic…the writing, beautifully simple, conveys better than most texts the strangeness of Einstein’s ideas.”


“A magical, metaphysical realm…Captivating, enchanting, delightful.”

New York Times

“Lightman is an artist who paints with the notion of time.”

Los Angeles Times


Washington Post Book World

“A wonderfully odd, clever, mystical book of meditations on time, poetically spare and delightfully fresh.”

Chicago Tribune

“Mr. Lightman successfully has combined his talents to create an imaginative work that explores the motivations of a great scientist.”

Dallas Morning News

“Endlessly fascinating. A beguiling inquiry into the not-at-all theoretical, utterly time-tangled, tragic and sublime nature of human life.”

Boston Globe

“A brilliant novel of time in its marvelous flight…gorgeous in its writing, spellbinding and profound in its effects.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“A beautiful work of fiction that explores the nature of creativity…takes you as close as you’re likely to get to Einstein’s inner world…Lightman is a wonderful writer.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[An] excellent first novel.”

Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Flawless, meditative, and brilliant…A work of hypnotic perception, fluent intelligence, and consummate skill.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Few endeavors are more beguiling than a grossly improbable conceit realized with subtlety and wit. Science writer Lightman seems to have mastered this principle: his slender but substantial fictional debut is a daring re-creation of Einstein’s dreams during May and June 1905…Lightman’s speculative prose poem warrants comparison to Calvino’s masterful Invisible Cities.”

Publishers Weekly

“Lightman offers provocative and elegantly wrought speculations on the nature of time.”