One of the most exciting genres to read is time travel. Each story about time travel approaches the subject in a specific way, so the best time travel books you read are like a new adventure in and of itself, as you learn the rules and parameters of a new universe.
When politics are so unpredictable – like they are in so many countries right now – the fantasy becomes even more tempting because it’s about going back in time and restoring order. Or knowing the root of the chaos, or just feeling in charge of what’s going on. All of this adds to people’s obsession with books with time travel.
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Top 12 Best Time Travel Books You Must Read
Would you rather go forward in time or back? I know I sure would go back in time to prevent that time when I went for a hug, and my friend went for a handshake… awkward.
Time Travel is one of the most fascinating genres of literature, so we have prepared a list of the top five best time travel books. Dive in!
Time traveler books cover a wide variety of genres, including romance, historical fiction, science fiction, and more, ensuring that there is a time travel book for everyone.
Here are some of our favorite time travel stories in which characters have the potential to change the course of history.
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Best Time Travel BooksOutlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
One of the best book series and after a stunning TV series adaptation featuring a lot of beautiful Scottish scenery, this epic historical fantasy series has gained many more fans in recent years. Claire Randall, a nurse from 1946, is transported back to the Highlands in 1743, where she is plunged into a world of clans and war and meets Jamie Fraser, a passionate Scotsman.
The classic time traveling book series by Diana Gabaldon is a rich mix of adventure and epic love. The bestselling series follows Claire Randall, a brilliant nurse who is thrown back in time and into the arms of brave Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser. This series has sold more than millions of copies and has been adapted into a profitable Showtime series.
A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
This famous children’s book, which was published in the 1960s and is now a high-profile Disney film starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. It has received several awards and amassed millions of devoted fans. This is a time travel fiction that tells you the story of Meg Murry, a 13-year-old girl whose search for her missing scientist father brings her and her friends through space and time using a tesseract – the very thing her father was investigating before vanishing. This timeless classic, packed with adventure, wonder, and heart, addresses major questions about the essence of good and evil, science, and religion.
Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe embark on a journey through time and space searching for Meg’s father in this iconic classic.
The Time Quintet starts with the award-winning novel. Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling appear in the Disney film directed by Ava DuVernay.
The novel had been rejected by over 26 publishers in 1960, whereas in the 2000s, it has inspired two Disney films. Perhaps the book was too ahead of its time.
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The Time Traveler’s Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
The World has Revered The Time Traveler’s Wife – and understandably so. It follows time-crossed lovers Henry and Clare in this dark and dreamy time travel exploration. Henry was born with the condition that causes his genetic clock to reset at random, allowing him to move backwards and forwards within his own timeline with no control of where he goes or how long he lives.
This time travel book is exactly for you if you want to read a stunning, complex love story that alternates between being sweepingly romantic and dark and harrowing. It narrates the story of Henry, a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to unexpectedly time travel, and Claire, his wife, who has to deal with the problems caused by her husband’s disorder. Although Henry has no control over where, or rather when he time travels to, certain feelings such as stress can affect his disorder and make his time travel.
The lives of Henry DeTamble, an adventurous librarian who journeys through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist who experiences time normally, are chronicled in this beloved, unusual love story. The tale of their passionate romance, which spans time and space, puts the force of destiny and love’s bonds to the test.
The Author, Audrey Niffenegger, drew inspiration for this novel through her own relationship experiences.
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Best Time Travel Books The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
This 1895 novel has had a major influence on how time travel is seen and explored in art. It is one of the best time travel books ever published, and it’s popularity reflects just that. The reader is introduced to a Victorian scientist known only as of the Time Traveler, who manages to transport himself to the year 802701 AD.
Despite the fact that this future world seems to be peaceful at first, he quickly discovers that there is something that is more sinister going on. He is forced to act as his time machine vanishes. The Time Traveler’s Journey to the Year 802,701 follows the Time Traveler as he encounters a new group of humans known as the Eloi.
The book came out over a 100 years ago! This means there are only around 800,000 years to go before we meet these species!
Best Time Travel Books Slaughterhouse 5
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece has been described as “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the twentieth century’s grotesque crimes.” This is one of the best time travel novels and has gained high appreciation.
Since the book’s publication, fans have questioned if the novel’s hero truly moves through time. It follows Billy Pilgrim, who becomes “unstuck in time”. He is doomed to relive the events of the Dresden firebombing during WWII, as influenced by Vonnegut’s own experiences. Time is arbitrary – and anything but chronological – in this darkly comedic tale of innocence and violence.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Kindred is a thought-provoking book written by Octavia E. Butler. The book explores braver themes than most other books in the time travel genre as it mainly incorporated the issue of slavery in 1815. Therefore this book should definitely be present in this list of best time travel books.
The protagonist of the story narrates the story in the book. Dana, a married woman who is living in the 1970s and is satisfied with her life until she is suddenly thrown back in time to one of her ancestors. This proud African woman is working as a slave. Dana must protect her ancestor in order to safely return to the present and continue her life with her husband. But at a point in time, her husband, Kevin, an American man, is also thrown back in time. Therefore, we get to see their differing experiences with time travel and how race plays a role. Critics widely acclaim this book for shedding light on topics such as slavery and racism.
Dooms Day Book by Connie Willis, 1992
Did you mention that you’re just an amateur time traveler? Then, this award-winning speculative fiction novel should be your first pick. Portraying the idea of beauty in darkness, Connie Willis nullified the possibility of having intense battles or alien invasion. Instead, she chose a slow-paced story of a tiny medieval village, one traveller far away from home, and her professor’s efforts to help her.
Kivrin, a young historian finds himself in one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history. The Black Death Pandemic. Will she be able to be a ray of hope during the darkest hours in history? Or will she see history repeating itself?
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Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick, 2002
Time travelling is the reality in this novel. People can meet their younger or older selves at various junctions in time! With it, world-famous palaeontologist Richard Leyster with his colleagues makes their most desired fantasy come true. They travel deep into the abyss of time and find themselves amidst the largest and the most ferocious creatures that lived on the planet. Dinosaurs. They study dinosaurs more closely in their natural environment. Tempting, right?
I bet you will love this if you are a Jurassic Park fan.
Plot twist, will they be able to return to the present world due to excessive human interference in matters like time travel? Will evolved avians deprive humans of the time-travelling science for misusing the technology.
Best Time Travel Books Passenger by Alexander Bracken, 2016
Inheriting time-travelling abilities, Etta Spencer was taken hostage back in the 18th century by Ironwood, a powerful family in the colonies. They believed that Etta was the only person who could find the stolen object of untold value. Nicholas Carter was a man content with his life at sea. His life changed with the arrival of an unlikely passenger on his ship.
To protect her, Nicholas decides to embark on a dangerous journey across centuries along with Etta, assembling clues left behind by the traveller who will do anything to keep the object out of the reach of the Ironwoods.
Will there be a sudden turn of tables when Nicholas tries to protect Etta? Or will they be stranded apart with the vast distance of time in-between? Find it out in Alexander Bracken’s “Passenger.”
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The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson, 2001
The mysterious appearance of indestructible monoliths from the future is the headline of the novel. Software designer Scott Warden witnesses an impossible event. With his friend Hitch Paley, they were among the first few to discover an enormous monolith out of nowhere in the jungle.
All around the world records many such cases after this. The sighting is not only mysterious and unpredictable but also killed thousands of people. The only common link is the inscription embedded into the monolith commemorating military victories from sixteen years in the future.
Who is the warlord Kuin whose victories they record?
Some odd loop of causality also keeps drawing him into the vortex, to the core mystery and final war with the future. Hmm, sounds interesting.
Best Time Travel Books Time After Time by Karl Alexander, 1979
Have you heard of The Time Machine? Briefly, it is a science fiction novel by H.G Wells. It was the first piece ever to elaborate on the topic of time travel. His work gained instant popularity due to his innovative theory of using a vehicle to travel forward or backwards in time.
Now coming to the main deal, the plot in Time After Time proposes what might have happened if Mr. Wells had built a real-time machine to travel to the 1970s searching for Stevenson.
The novel oscillates viewpoints between H.G. Wells and Stevenson, the sociopath. In the nineteenth century, a murderer named Stevenson uses the Well’s newly invented time machine to escape from the police. Quite the chase, huh?
Wells finds himself in the future after following the wanted criminal. He befriends Amy Robbins and also develops a romantic relationship with her. Stevenson (Jack the Ripper) continues with his notorious crimes and considers Amy his next target.
Will Wells be able to save Amy? Will Stevenson receive the punishments he deserves? It is a well-written novel entangling a lot of drama, thrill, suspense, and love affair.
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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
The title The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a good glimpse as to what the book is all about, that is, Harry August is a boy born in 1919 who leads a memorable life… so memorable that when he is reborn after his death, he remembers everything from his past life and the 70 years he lived. He is reborn in the same place and time and soon discovers that his destiny is reborn time and time again.
However, to his luck, he soon discovers that there are others like him, The Cronus Club. This organization takes care of him whenever he is reborn. Harry receives a message in his 11th life from a girl, which leads to Harry having to do whatever he can to save himself from ceasing to exist.
A film adaptation for this book is currently under work. Hopefully, you also find yourself entangled in these stories and have a great time reading! Let us know what you would do if you had the ability to time travel in the comments.
With this, we come to the end of our list of best time travel books. Time-travelling might be a concept or an idea in today’s world. It might interest people all around the world only as a possibility or a hypothesis. However, it might be the reality of tomorrow. You never know what can happen next when considering time. It is a variable.
Who knows? You may also be the next time traveler!
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Founder of TheWhuffieFactor. Marketing Professional / Avid book lover. When not absorbed in the latest rib tickling thriller, Tara loves food, but cooks very badly, enjoys random interactions with strangers, and otherwise spends far too much time reading. She lives in the USA, with her sister and an adorable dog, Basket.