15 Of The Best Time Travel Books
The concept of time travel opens up so many different creative possibilities with books that fit various genres. From adventure, historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, romance, to even social commentary — time travel as a literary device can bring together the best of different worlds.
The act of reading is also one of the best ways to slow down, expand, or skip through time in our own lives. So while the characters in these books all have the ability to travel through time, as a reader, you can travel with them when you read a book from this list!
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year a.d. 802,701, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment, and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realizes that these beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture–now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity–the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels if he is ever to return to his own era.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King–who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer–takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
The visionary author’s masterpiece pulls us–along with her Black female hero–through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another… In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. A Wrinkle in Time is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend–Nix has been to them all. But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Reality is broken. At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery–and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. A novel that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer–but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain’s assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history–the fire bombing of Dresden. After the war Billy makes a great deal of money as an optometrist, and on his wedding night he is kidnapped by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Hank Morgan awakens one morning to find he has been transported from nineteenth-century New England to sixth-century England and the reign of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Morgan brings to King Arthur’s utopian court the ingenuity of the future, resulting in a culture clash that is at once satiric, anarchic, and darkly comic. A delightfully entertaining story and a disturbing analysis of the efficacy of government, the benefits of progress, and the dissolution of social mores. It remains as powerful a work of fiction today as it was upon its first publication in 1889.
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from over a century in the future. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives–eighteen years too late.
What do you think about the books on this list?
Have you read any books from this list? What are your favorite time travel books? What books would you add to the list?