The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow – Audiobook Review

The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, copyright 2010.

Read by: Steve West – 4hrs 32mins

Publisher: Random House Audio

Source: Personal Collection – Bought New

Reason for Reading: Curiosity killed the cat!

Ummm…uhhhh…so, yeah…about this book…to start with…basically, it’s about…well, it’s probably kind of like…I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE!! Oh my gosh, the most miraculous thing about this audiobook is that the narrator didn’t fall asleep while recording it. I truly hate it when people take plot summaries or blurbs from publishers’ websites, but there is really no way that I could even begin to tell you what this book is about. So, from Random House Audio:

“When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation?

The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity.”

I’m really not too sure about that last sentence, the whole nontechnical language bit. I guess it’s nontechnical if you’re Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein, but most of this was way over my head. Thankfully Ben Stein was not narrating the book. Steve West was, at least, easy to listen to and I got the impression that he was interested in the topic. It makes a huge difference. That, coupled with the fact that the complete audio presentation is only about 4 hours long, was the only thing that prevented The Grand Design from becoming another spectacular DNF.

I was really quite surprised at how well I was able to stay focussed on West’s voice. I really, really wanted to understand everything he was saying, but it was impossible. The complex nature of our universe and the very idea of infinite histories are just so mind boggling that my brain begs me to find something far less taxing on which to focus. To be fair, there were several interesting tid-bits and analogies as well as some pretty ok physics jokes, but I can’t remember any of them because it all got lost in the humble jumble of physics blah blah blah.

I certainly can’t write this audiobook off as a failure. The narration was really great and I think the authors tried very hard to dumb things down for us and explain all of these complex concepts. I do not, however, think that I can recommend this book to most people. If you are a physics major or some other super smart person, well then, ok, but the rest of you…stay away!



About Robbie

Hi there, my name is Robbie Burns (no,really, that’s my name…hold the haggis jokes please) and I would like to welcome you to the Pink Sheep Cafe. I started this blog as a means of discussing books and all things literary in light of my perpetual isolation. At the time I began writing, I was living in Split, Croatia. There wasn’t much here in the way of English book clubs and I couldn’t work, so I badly needed something to help me bide my time. My partner and I have since left Croatia and returned to Canada to live in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. When we first moved back here, my blog writing sort of fell by the wayside, but now I seem to be back on track. I try to read and review a little bit of everything here; I think everyone can find something to their liking here. I find myself tending more towards more literary reads these days, but I also enjoy a lot of YA and children’s fiction. One of my ongoing goals is to work my way through all of the Nobel Laureates. My two most favorite authors are Timothy Findley and Halldor Laxness.
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2 Responses to The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow – Audiobook Review

  1. Julie says:

    I saw this audiobook on the library shelf and I picked it up …. even holding it in my hands created confusion in my mind so I put it back!

  2. John Mutford says:

    Yeah a book like this would require me pausing and rereading passages several times in order to make sure I’m getting it, so I don’t see, no matter how great the voice, that an audio version would work.

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