The best books for time-traveling back to the past

Who am I?

I’ve always loved reading time travel stories and gobbled up most of what I could find. Over the past few years, I decided that I wanted to try writing one for myself. After reading the books I’ve recommended along with others (including some having to do with the physics of time), I finally took up the challenge and wrote the Waters of Time series which combines my love of the Middle Ages, romance, and time travel all into one.

I wrote...

Come Back to Me

By Jody Hedlund,

Book cover of Come Back to Me

What is my book about?

Research scientist Marian Creighton and her father share one goal—to find a remedy that can help cure her sister Ellen of a deadly genetic disease that already stole their mother away. However, she is skeptical of her father’s methods. She feels his long-time fixation with ancient Holy water and its healing properties are both crazy and a waste of time.

But when Marian’s father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of Holy water, she is determined to test his theories for herself. However, she soon realizes that she is not the only one interested in his research. A break-in and a kidnapping convince her that she must take the plunge and follow her father back to the Middle Ages in order to save both her father and her sister. 

The books I picked & why

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The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

By Ian Mortimer,

Book cover of The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

Why this book?

This book really did fulfill the title! It helped me travel back in time to the 1300s in England. I felt like I was there and engaging all my senses, learning how it felt, tasted, sounded, looked, and smelled. The details were thorough and helped me write my fictional time travel book more realistically.

Daily Life in the Middle Ages

By Paul B. Newman,

Book cover of Daily Life in the Middle Ages

Why this book?

Intriguing, little-known facts make this book another way to travel into the past, showcasing everything from eating, cooking, clothing, housing, and relaxing. It provides fascinating details of what everyday life was really like in the Middle Ages, facts that can’t be gleaned simply by watching movies or television programs.

The Rose Garden

By Susanna Kearsley,

Book cover of The Rose Garden

Why this book?

The main character of this novel travels back in time to 18th century Cornwall. The time-travelling element is beautifully done and swept me from the present to the past seamlessly and with such intrigue that I felt like I was struggling to adjust to the differences of the past with the heroine. The ambiance of medieval times stays with me and helped inspire me as I wrote my time travel book.


By Diana Gabaldon,

Book cover of Outlander

Why this book?

While this time travel novel is long and contains some difficult scenes (of torture and rape), I loved the historical details woven throughout as seen through the eyes of a contemporary woman trying to survive in an environment that could often be hostile and dangerous for women, especially a woman who comes under suspicion for her strange (contemporary) ways. 


By Lisa T. Bergren,

Book cover of Waterfall

Why this book?

Another time travel novel, this particular book takes readers on an adventure to 14th century Italy. The vehicle for time travelling is unique and the setting is also unique. Once again, the reader is on the edge of his or her seat as the character is plunged into danger, always wondering if the character will survive and stay in the Middle Ages or return to the present.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in time travel, the Middle Ages, and medieval society?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about time travel, the Middle Ages, and medieval society.

Time Travel Explore 154 books about time travel
The Middle Ages Explore 245 books about the Middle Ages
Medieval Society Explore 13 books about medieval society

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Gates of Fire, Katherine, and The Princess Bride if you like this list.