The best time-bending novels that turn reality inside-out

Who am I?

I’m the author of three novels, several short stories and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I’ve haven’t aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respect—my plots usually focus on a mystery. I enjoy novels with strong, credible characters, which are based in a recognisable, everyday reality, but where bizarre events can turn the world upside down.


I wrote...

The Snowing And Greening Of Thomas Passmore

By Paul Burman,

Book cover of The Snowing And Greening Of Thomas Passmore

What is my book about?

Something strange is happening to Thomas Passmore. Waking from a warm Australian beach, he finds himself at London’s Heathrow Airport on a winter’s morning, but can’t remember travelling there. And his journey only gets more bizarre. As he’s overwhelmed by an increasingly vivid sense of déjà-vu, Thomas’s past and present collide until he can no longer avoid reuniting with the ghosts that haunt him and confronting the person he’s become. This includes tracking down Kate Hainley – his first love – who he’s never been able to fall out of love with.

Set against a timeless backdrop of the changing seasons, this is a quirky and magical tale of loss, love, and learning to live.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Paul Burman Why did I love this book?

Slaughterhouse-Five is my favourite book of all time, and the book I would most like to have written myself (if only I had Vonnegut’s skill and didn’t have to live through the fire-bombing of Dresden).

Dealing with the atrocities of war while throwing in a mix of aliens and time travel, and regularly breaking the ‘fourth wall’, it’s a novel that shouldn’t work... but works superbly because of that.

Hilarious and tragically sad, mind-bending but soundly logical, the story of Billy Pilgrim and how he is kidnapped by Tralfamadorians to be mated in a zoo with a beautiful movie star on the other side of the universe, and how he survives World War II, is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking stories ever.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…


Book cover of The Time Traveler's Wife

Paul Burman Why did I love this book?

I enjoy the occasional romance, but often want something more than a traditional linear structure with predictable character trajectories, and The Time Traveler’s Wife won me over completely.

Not only does it play with the concept of time, pitting two characters in a relationship with one another at various non-sequential points in their lives (Henry meets Clare when she’s six and he’s thirty-six, they get married when she’s twenty-two and he’s thirty!), but it does it oh-so-convincingly. What’s more, it tells a superb love story at the same time—one of the best.

By Audrey Niffenegger,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Time Traveler's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a series on HBO starring Rose Leslie and Theo James!

The iconic time travel love story and mega-bestselling first novel from Audrey Niffenegger is "a soaring celebration of the victory of love over time" (Chicago Tribune).

Henry DeTamble is a dashing, adventurous librarian who is at the mercy of his random time time-traveling abilities. Clare Abshire is an artist whose life moves through a natural sequential course. This is the celebrated and timeless tale of their love. Henry and Clare's passionate affair is built and endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap…


Book cover of The Man Who Saw Everything

Paul Burman Why did I love this book?

I’ve always been a sucker for an unreliable narrator and Saul Adler turns out to be one of the most unreliable of all time.

He’s a character whose views about his relationships with other people we can’t help but grow to distrust, and who invites dislike. Hit by a car on London’s Abbey Road in 1988, while his girlfriend is preparing to take a photo, his life-story becomes like pieces of a broken mirror, except the shards ultimately reflect two contrasting trajectories.

I love the way Deborah Levy layers and intertwines these versions of his life, back and forward through time, from East Berlin and the reunification of Germany to contemporary London, and how as readers we’re able to gradually identify a (possibly) ‘truer’ reflection of what really happened.

By Deborah Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Saw Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2019

'An ice-cold skewering of patriarchy, humanity and the darkness of 20th century Europe' The Times
_________________________________

'It's like this, Saul Adler.'
'No, it's like this, Jennifer Moreau.'

In 1988, Saul Adler is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. Apparently fine, he gets up and poses for a photograph taken by his girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. He carries this photo with him to East Berlin: a fragment of the present, an anchor to the West.

But in the GDR he finds himself troubled by time - stalked by…


Book cover of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Paul Burman Why did I love this book?

This is the first novel I read by Haruki Murakami and it got me hooked on his writing.

Toru Okada is tasked with finding his lost cat but, as he searches, the past stories of other characters constantly intersect and become inescapable detours, which often foster ambiguity and a sense of becoming lost in a charmed world.

We’re left with an impression of a world slipping into the surreal, where reality becomes blurred like Okada’s memory of what his missing cat looks like, and where “Ten minutes is not ten minutes” because time can stretch and shrink. I was frequently surprised and sometimes confounded by this but, because of Murakami’s skill as a writer, felt pleasantly lulled with the same dreamlike acquiescence as his hero into following Okada’s convoluted journey.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INCLUDES A READING GUIDE

Toru Okada's cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.


Book cover of The Gauntlet

Paul Burman Why did I love this book?

The memory of a primary school-teacher reading this book to the class has remained with me for decades, and was partly responsible for me wanting to write stories of my own.

Living in a historic village myself, the idea of Peter, the young protagonist, finding a rusty, medieval gauntlet and, after slipping his hand into it, being transported back to a life in that era, appealed so much to me that I spent a lot of time digging the vegetable garden afterwards in the hope of unearthing something similar.

That Peter then buries a different object in 1326, which he digs up in the twentieth century to prove the truth of his experience, really fired my imagination and left me fascinated by time-bending stories ever since.

By Ronald Welch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gauntlet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Young Peter is visiting uncle in the Welsh countryside. When he finds an old knight's gauntlet, he put it on and is transported back in time to the fourteenth century. There he is the supposed son of a great Norman knight, his ancestor. He learns all about the Medieval life, and enjoys every part of his adventure (archery, hawking, jousting), even when danger arrives in the form of attack from the Welsh tribes. He helps his family lift the seige of their castle, but must finally return to his time. Will anyone believe his story? How can he convince them?


You might also like...

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

Book cover of Make Her Pay

Miranda Rijks Author Of The Homemaker

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Mountain-lover

Miranda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A twisty psychological thriller about beautiful, successful Leonie who has just met Markus, the man of her dreams. But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s struggled with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get her. It’s little things at first but it soon escalates into a terrifying campaign which threatens her business, her family and even her life. Leonie realizes there’s a link to the accident that happened all those years ago. Someone knows what she did. Someone is determined to make her pay.

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

What is this book about?

Leonie has the perfect life. Someone wants to take it away.

Leonie is living her best life. Still in her twenties, she’s beautiful, successful and has just met Markus, the man of her dreams.

But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – no license, no insurance – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s been struggling to deal with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get…


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