Einstein’s Dreams is a series of “dreams” of imagined worlds in which time operates differently than it does in our own. The author, Alan Lightman, a professor of physics at M.I.T., has written a meditation about the nature of time by imagining what Einstein might have dreamt while working out his theory of relativity. As readers we share Einstein’s dreams, which Lightman has turned into 30 fables about places where time behaves quite differently. In one of these dreams, time slows with altitude, causing the wealthy to build stilt homes on mountaintops, seeking eternal youth and scorning the swiftly aging poor folk below. Eventually forgetting how they got there and why they subsist on "all but the most gossamer food," the higher-ups at length "become thin like the air, bony, old before their time." All 30 dreams are equally provocative, teasing readers into thought and discussion, which is the goal of Agnes Scott’s Common Reading program.
Einstein's Dreams was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. It was runner up for the 1994 PEN New England / Boston Globe Winship Award, and it was the March 1998 selection for National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" Book Club. It has been used in numerous colleges and universities, and is one of the mostly widely used texts in American colleges today.