Alan Lightman is both a celebrated author and acclaimed physicist whose impressive body of work explores the intersections of science and spirituality. From thought-provoking scientific essay collections to lyrically-written novels, Lightman’s books are perfect to read if you love ruminating on big ideas about our place in the universe. To celebrate the release of The Transcendent Brain, Alan’s most recent book exploring the connections between science and spirituality, here’s a guide to the books by Alan Lightman!
The Transcendent Brain
“Inspiring… A rigorous and yet very personal inquiry into…scientific knowledge” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Falling Awake
In his newest book, Lightman explores a rich, fascinating answer to the question, Can the scientifically inclined still hold space for spirituality? Drawing on intellectual history and conversations with contemporary scientists, philosophers, and psychologists, he asks a series of thought-provoking questions that illuminate our strange place between the world of particles and forces and the world of complex human experience.
In this collection of meditative essays, Lightman tackles “big questions like the origin of the universe and the nature of consciousness … in an entertaining and easily digestible way” (Wall Street Journal), exploring the possibilities—and impossibilities—of nothingness and infinity, and how our place in the cosmos falls somewhere in between.
“An elegant and moving paean to our spiritual quest for meaning in an age of science” —The New York Times Book Review
This small but provocative book explores the tension between our yearning for certainty and permanence versus the modern scientific view that all things in the physical world are uncertain and impermanent. It’s also the basis for the public television series SEARCHING, which is available to watch now!
“A celebration of life’s possibilities and the way we remember them.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
In this evocative and intensely personal memoir, Lightman chronicles his return to Memphis, the home he fled forty years earlier, and unpacks his long-held beliefs about his larger-than-life grandfather and his quiet, inscrutable father. The result is an unforgettable family saga that finely explores the tricks of light that can make—and unmake—a man and his myth.
“Alan Lightman might be the only writer who can dance through not just one but seven universes in a book not much larger than a human hand.” —The Columbus Dispatch
A fascinating meditation on the seemingly contradictory elements of our world, all with the suggestion—at once haunting and exhilarating—that what we see and understand is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.
“Aglow with wonder. . . . A far more subtle divine comedy. . . . It’s a scientific vision laced with the mirthful aura of divinity.” —The Washington Post Book World
This novel presents a celebration of the highs and lows of existence, on the grandest possible scale: the story of Creation, as told by God.
A beautifully rendered portrait of the emotional life of a scientist and a resonant tale of the disillusionment that haunts us all. Written with lyrical sparseness, hilarity mixed with sadness, this novel follows a professor of physics who is working through the clash between the absolutes of science and the vagaries of human experience.
“Elegantly provocative. . . . Fine and deeply thoughtful fiction.”—Los Angeles Times
Combining a beautiful narrative with provocative ideas, Ghost investigates timeless questions that continue to challenge the truth as we know it. A stunning novel about an ordinary man’s encounter with the extraordinary.
“Lightman’s map of 20th century science beautifully conveys the human drama of discovery.” –American Scientist
In this captivating and lucid book, Lightman chronicles twenty-four great discoveries of twentieth-century science–everything from the theory of relativity to mapping the structure of DNA.
“Splendidly illuminating… Imprinted with Lightman’s scientific wonderment and poetic grace.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Thoughtful, beautifully written, and wonderfully original, this lyrical and insightful collection of science writing delves into the mysteries of the scientific process–physics, astronomy, mathematics–and exposes its beauty and intrigue.
“Endlessly fascinating. A beguiling inquiry into the not-at-all theoretical, utterly time-tangled, tragic and sublime nature of human life.” —The Boston Globe
This novel is a modern classic that explores the connections between science and art, the process of creativity, and ultimately the fragility of human existence.
“One of a handful of writers in America capable of injecting the necessary quietude into his prose. . . . Reunion is that rare thing in this age: a genuine work of art.” —Denver Post
A novel that follows a once-promising poet and professor who attends his thirtieth college reunion, sparking an exploration of the pain of self-examination, the clay-like nature of memory, and the fatal power of first love.
“A funny, troubling story about our culture’s devotion to technology at the expense of humanity…. Clever and wise, a rare combination.”–San Francisco Chronicle
In this funny and harrowing novel, Lightman explores a man’s struggle to cope in a wired world, even as his own biological wiring short-circuits.
“Alan Lightman is one of our most consistently fascinating writers.” —Author Annie Dillard
This collection of essays gathers the best of Lightman’s work that brings literary and scientific concerns into harmony. An intimate and fascinating look into the creative compulsions shared by the artist and the scientist.