40 Best Time Travel Books

From the mid 1800s to modern times has intrigued author and reader alike and its fascinating story is still ongoing today. The books on this list span many styles and cover genres such as historical fiction, action-adventure, romantic, comedy and more. This idea to take an individual and put him in someone else’s time is perfectly suited to dramatic literary work. Some great time travel books were written much earlier than others that have been written decades later. The consistent through-line for each case is that to explain these diverse tales the authors use time travel as the key aspect of the plot. Here’s a list.

List of Top 40 Best 40 Time Travel Books

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2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
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1. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The story involves a 19th-century man who time travels to Camelot after receiving “an apparently trivial head injury” from a laboratory experiment gone wrong and subsequently becomes the chief advisor to King Arthur. It satirizes the shortcomings of society in Twain’s time through the eyes of a man from 19th-century America.

Publishing year: 1889

2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

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2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells 

In The Time Machine, H.G. Wells tells the story of a scientist who builds a machine capable of carrying a person through time and space. The traveler, eager to prove his device works, jumps in and emerges 800,000 years later in the distant future. What he discovers is something no one expected – life has evolved into two distinct races, the Eloi and the Morlocks. The traveler is eventually captured by the cannibalistic Morlocks and must find a way to escape back to his own time if he hopes to survive.

Publishing year: 1895

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a story about time travel. Henry DeTamble, who has an inherited condition of being a time traveler while living in the normal world, falls in love with Clare Abshire. They have known each other since Clare was 6 years old and Henry was 26 years old. As they get older, more struggles get in the way of their relationship until they finally get married. Henry’s genetic time traveling disorder is an important part of this story because it interferes with his life and his love for Clare, who he loves more than anything.

Publishing year: 2003

4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the most famous novel of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The protagonist is Billy Pilgrim, an American soldier during World War II who becomes “unstuck in time” and has flashbacks to his life both as a soldier and back to his childhood. He feels like he is reliving moments from his life as well as experiencing them in the present. The presentation of time is non-linear, which adds to Billy’s confusion and lack of chronological coherence. One critic noted that it is “not simply a novel about blowing up cities”. 

Publishing year: 1969

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle 

A classic which many people have read at some point in their lives, A Wrinkle in Time has recently been made into a film. It is the story of Meg Murry and her nemesis, The Black Thing (who later proves to be her brother). She finds herself caught up in an inter-dimensional quest for her father who was lost when he went on a mission to find another planet for Earth to move to in order to escape the evil forces of IT.

Publishing year: 1962:

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Outlander is a novel that tells the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse in 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Publishing year: 1991

7. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North 

” The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August ” is a science fiction novel by Claire North which tells the story of a man who is born again and again. He lives his first life in the early 20th century, but after dying of a fever at age eight, comes back to life as himself, only he has all his memories from previous lives and begins again. The novel follows Harry through multiple lives and deaths.

Publishing year: 2014

8. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 

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It is about a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy but is met with unexpected problems when he falls in love with his past self. This novel surpasses historical fiction and enters into the category of science fiction because it deals with time travel.

The story begins when the protagonist, Jake Epping, is approached by an old man who shows him a time portal that leads to 1958. After he goes back in time to find out more about the mysterious door in the diner’s pantry, he meets his past self (and gets kissed by him) and decides not to change history. However, when he returns to the present, he discovers that some things have changed.

Publishing year: 2011

9. How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North 

It is an amazing book by Ryan North. It’s perfect for anyone who’s ever felt like they wanted to be a time traveler and inventor but doesn’t know-how. The book starts off with a series of stories about two friends. One of them is Nate, a dyslexic inventor from the present who finds himself stranded in the past without any useful skills or knowledge, and can’t go back to his own time. His friend Lydia-who’s also dyslexic and invented her way into the past-she finds him and helps him get back on his feet. As he starts learning and inventing new things, he finds out that there are other time travelers stranded in the past.

Publishing year: 2018

10. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler 

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It’s about a black woman who goes back in time to the pre-civil war times. She is there because her ancestors are kidnapped and she needs to save them. She travels back in time with one of her white slave-owning ancestors. This novel is trying to show people how horrible slavery was, that it wasn’t just the abuse but also the mental abuse. 

Publishing year:  1979

11. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

This story is about a man who discovers a time machine and tries to fix all of the mistakes and prevent future tragedies. He travels back in time and has many fun adventures, but also learns the importance of not meddling with the past.

Publishing year: 2007

12. Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson 

In this book, Richard Matheson tells the tale of a man named Richard Collier and his obsession with a beautiful woman who appeared in a photograph from 1912. He becomes obsessed with her and her beauty and will do anything to spend time with her.

This is a great book for anyone who is interested in time travel or loves the concepts of traveling through space and/or time. Richard Matheson does not disappoint with any of his books, but Somewhere in Time definitely ranks high on my list. I would recommend this book to anybody looking for an awesome read.

Publishing year: 1975

13. Time and Again by Jack Finney 

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In this classic time travel novel, the protagonist is a visiting professor who experiences some strange phenomena as he begins his work at a small New England College in 1973. The mystery unfolds as he finds himself inexplicably traveling back to 1882 on repeated occasions, changing the course of events that had occurred up until that point in history. This riveting tale offers an interesting take on what it means to have a sense of control over your life and how you would go about shaping it if given the chance.

Publishing year: 1970

14. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis 

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The story is set in England during the Black Death and follows a young woman named Kivrin, who volunteers to go back in time to study the plague just before it wipes out an entire generation of people. She’s excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but when she arrives in 1348, she realizes that her time machine is broken and she can’t get home. What follows is a heartbreaking tale of how one person can make a difference and humanize the effects of history’s most devastating pandemic.

Publishing year: 1992

15. Timeline by Michael Crichton

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The novel is set in the present day and centers on a team of historians who are working to re-create the circumstances surrounding the French Revolution, but they accidentally go back in time and become part of history. The team must find their way back to the present day, before they’re trapped in 1789 forever.

Publishing year: 1999

16. The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein 

This is a classic science-fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. This novel is about a man who is going to live in a different dimension in order to escape from the Earth. The protagonist in this book has been living on the Earth for around 50 years and decides that he wants to live in a different dimension with his lover.

Publishing year: 1957

17. Lightning by Dean Koontz 

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Dean Koontz’s novel, Lightning, follows the story of an extraordinary dog as he struggles early on with abandonment by his family only to find himself unappreciated by his new owners as he matures before ultimately finding a place where he belongs.

Publishing year: 1988

18. Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer 

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Flashforward is a science fiction novel written by Robert J. Sawyer, published in 1999. The story focuses on a mystery and a possible global catastrophe, both brought about by the discovery of what appears to be evidence of human precognition. Flashforward won both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for best novel in 2000. In 2009 it was adapted into a TV series of the same name.

Publishing year: 1999

19. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 

A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published in 1843. The story tells of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

Publishing year: 1843

20. Recursion by Blake Crouch

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Recursion tells the story of a man who is desperately trying to save his wife while also determining what happened to him during the five days he can’t remember. The two timelines run in opposite directions (one forward, one backward) until they meet up at the end for an explosive finale. This has been pitched as Memento meets Groundhog Day, so if you liked either of those movies, you are likely to enjoy Recursion.

Publishing year: 2019

21. Unhappenings by Edward Aubry

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Unhappenings is a memoir of sorts written by Edward Aubry, using the pseudonym A.I. Richards of which he has been writing for quite some time now.  This book starts with the common trope of a protagonist who has lost everything and is struggling to get back on their feet. The main difference in this tale is that it introduces a world that exists parallel (and simultaneously) to our own and how the protagonist interacts within this other world which weaves into ours at certain points in time, specifically during periods of great stress. The amount of time spent in our world is minimal at best, but the effects are dramatic and far-reaching when the protagonist enters the Unhappenings reality.

Publishing year: 2015

22. Pilot X by Tom Merritt 

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Pilot X is a sci-fi novel that tells the story of a man who wakes up with amnesia in the future that is ruled by an evil empire. He learns of his past, of what he did to earn the enmity of this empire, and then decides to do something about it.

Publishing year: 2017

23. The Girl From Everywhere series by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere is a 2016 fantasy adventure young adult novel written by Heidi Heilig. The novel follows the story of Nix Song, a teenage girl who can travel anywhere in time and space through her father’s ship, Kashmir, a holdover from a defunct trading empire that would sail to every corner of the earth. Her ability to control time and space allows her to solve many problems, and she uses that ability to help the people she loves.

Publishing year: 2017

24. Into The Dim by Janet B. Taylor

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Into The Dim by Janet B. Taylor is a fantasy novel where people are starting to disappear from towns surrounding the Iron Mountains. A young girl, who is an expert in hunting and survival, must take it upon herself to unravel the mystery of the disappearing townsfolk… before she becomes one of them.

Publishing year: 2017

25. The Chronos Files series by Rysa walker

The Chronicles Files series is a New Adult post-apocalyptic urban fantasy thriller novel. The action-packed and gripping storyline takes us into the world of Dr. Kate Pierce and her life in New Chicago, a city that’s been sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier because it was built on top of an old, dangerous, and forgotten lab.

Publishing year: 2016

26. The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor

The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by (Jodi Taylor) – Set in an alternate universe, this series follows Professor Bernice Summerfield and her team through time-traveling adventures. From ancient Greece to the Time War, each book is a standalone story focused on Benny and her crew as their lives cross paths with some of the greatest events in galactic history.

Publishing year: 2013

27. The Shadow Hunter by Cassandra Clare

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The Shadowhunter Chronicles is a series of four young adult fantasy novels written by Cassandra Clare. It follows Clary, Jace, Alec, Isabelle, Simon, and their friends as they investigate demon-related crimes in New York City. They must stop Valentine Morgenstern, with the help of the disreputable demon-slaying clan, the Los Angeles-based Pandemonium Club.

Publishing year: 2007

28. Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel by Michael Bunker, Isaac Hooke, Susan Kaye

Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel is an anthology of short stories about our ability to travel through time and affecting the past, present, and future.

Publishing year: 2014

29. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

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It is the story of a young woman named Lucy Sherrington, who after receiving an email from herself five years in the future, sets out on a journey to discover how she may be able to achieve that future. The story unfolds into an insightful and powerful exploration of fate and destiny.

Publishing year: 2020

30. Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi | Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot

“Before the coffee gets cold” is about a little café in Tokyo that holds an important secret. The time-traveling aspect of it allows you to travel back and forth through time with only one condition: don’t drink any before your coffee has cooled down!

Publishing year: 2015

31. In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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In a Holidaze is not your average romance novel. Rather, it’s about Maelyn Jones who finds herself reliving Christmas over and over again in an increasingly unconventional Groundhog Day-style narrative with only one goal: To make the right choice that will bring her ultimate happiness! Her decisions range from admitting feelings for childhood crush to reevaluating career choices all while keeping family traditions alive.

Publishing year: 2020

32. This Is How You Lose The Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar 

The cruelest battlefield is the one where you must kill your heart. Our childhood friends, or something more? Time travel can be a nightmare, but here’s a war that might finally have our heroes fighting on the same side. This Is How You Lose The Time War is described as “a weird-fantasy crossbreed of Amber and Quantum Leap” with “a healthy dose of Neil Gaiman’s influence coursing through its veins.” It was originally published in The Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin.

Publishing year: 2019

33. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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Nora, a thirty-something woman with regrets about her life and a sense of alienation and unimportance in this world, is the protagonist of The Midnight Library. She stumbles upon the Midnight Library while wallowing in her pity. Each book in the series serves as a portal to a different version of her life. As she reads the books, she is able to access alternate versions of her life, including relationships she might have kept, careers she might have pursued, and so on.

Nora’s journey of self-discovery results in a life-affirming and reflective storey about the choices we make, the paths we choose, and our individual places in this world as she jumps in and out of these alternate realities.

Publishing year: 2020

34. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Jose Silver

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Jose Silveria is a young adult novel in verse. The book tells the story of Lydia, a transgender teen who has recently come out to her family and friends. This book follows multiple timelines as it moves back and forth between before Lydia came out up until the present which shows how her life has changed after she went public about her transition. 

Publishing year: 2020

35. Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen

Here And Now And Then is a book written by Mike Chen. It’s about a couple of guys who are friends since they’re kids who go on adventures in different times and places until one disappears while fighting for his country. The remaining friend then goes to search for his lost friend, which ultimately leads him on a time travel adventure with his friend. The book shows how they live in different times and places, with the help of ‘The Guide’, an old guy who loved to tour people from one place to another along with a few other guides.

Publishing year: 2019

36. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is a murder mystery set in the 1980s at an English manor. The protagonist wakes up every day and relives the same party with different guests and hosts, but can they solve the case of Evelyn’s murder?

Publishing year: 2018

37. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

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Kindred by Octavia Butler is a science fiction novel about time travel. The protagonist, Dana, finds herself transported to the antebellum South where she meets her ancestors: Rufus, the son of a white plantation owner, and Ellen, an African American slave on that same plantation. I found Kindred to be an interesting insight into the time of slavery. This book is a great reminder that humans are not born racist, but instead taught to discriminate by circumstance.

Publishing year: 1979

38. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

The End of Eternity is a 1955 science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov. The story concerns the bitter rivalry between two factions, the Eternals and the Eternity, whose goal is to protect humanity through time travel. To accomplish this task they manipulate individuals throughout history so that scientific and technological breakthroughs occur when they are needed. This work is one of Asimov’s early forays into this theme, which would prove to be predominant in his later novels and stories.

Publishing year: 1955

39. Timeline by Michael Crichton

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In Timeline, a group of archeologists from the University of Oxford are chosen to use a time machine. If they succeed, it will lead to a groundbreaking discovery and all the fame and fortune that come with it. However, if they fail, there could be deadly consequences for both people and history as we know it.

Publishing year: 1999

40. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

To Say Nothing of the Dog is a comedy of manners and language set in an alternate reality. The two main characters are time travel historians, assigned to go back and collect historically significant objects for their museum. They travel “sideways” through time, usually to the Victorian era, but sometimes they end up much earlier or later than they planned. The book’s main theme is the mangling of language and history, and how we can sometimes do damage to the past by acting on faulty information.

Publishing year: 1997

Final Words

Do you remember the first time travel story that you read? The experiences are different for everyone. Maybe it was a Harry Potter movie or maybe something more serious like the writing of H. G. Wells. No matter what your experiences have been with this sensation, there is one thing all fans agree on: Time Travel is awesome!

Enjoy the above-listed books about time travel that I’ve read. you can’t get it wrong with any of them…

FAQs

What is considered the best book of all time?

The End of Eternity, this amazing 1955 novel by Isaac Asimov was the winner of the Hugo Award in 1956, one of science fiction’s highest honors.

What was the first book about time travel?

The answer to these questions isn’t simple. The idea of time travel exists in ancient myths and has been used by many authors including H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Isaac Asimov and Madeleine L’Engel . So who was the first author to write a book about time travel?

The question is difficult to answer because different sources define time travel in different ways. Wikipedia, for example, states that it’s “a concept of moving backwards or forwards through time” and then lists examples from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine onward . Meanwhile the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) defines time travel as “a means of changing the past or the future by traveling backwards or forwards in time” and says it’s appeared since Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court .

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