The best books to contemplate for a time

Craig Vann Author Of The Hawking Sequence
By Craig Vann

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by the concept of time travel since I was a kid wishing to return to simpler times; the days before computers, huge metropolises, and before people protested everything. Some of these books achieve that, others do not claim to. I have no expertise in the science of time travel; no one does. While “time travel” is real (check out “time dilation”), to travel through time as writers like me profess is impossible. Or maybe it’s possible, given an opportune gravitational wave... Enjoy my recommended books! You’re in for a treat.

I wrote...

The Hawking Sequence

By Craig Vann,

Book cover of The Hawking Sequence

What is my book about?

The Hawking Sequence continues the time travel adventures of Skypilot and Zachary after their historic inaugural mission to England in the year 1766 in Ticking: A Tale of Two Time Travellers.

Sky’s Aunt Beatrice developed time travel. Now, she reveals to her friend and colleague, Alim, that she has sent two people back in time and that a young woman, Helena Harrison, was brought to Fraserdale from 1766. The story unfolds at the theme wedding of Sky and Helena, two young lovers who traversed through time to be together. Invited to witness their vows is family friend Sam Richter, a CSIS agent, who is not in town just for the wedding; he has been directed to investigate the work of the scientist, Beatrice Westover. What wonders will they see? What characters will they meet? 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Why did I love this book?

Chronicling the early days of the Dutch presence in Manhattan, New York, the book is full of rich stories from the earliest days of the colony; encounters with wildlife, Indians, and other Europeans. I have read this book three times, captivated by the multi-ethnic beginnings of New York, a characteristic that defines the city even today. Tidbits like how facets of the Dutch language have been incorporated into English, such as the words “boss,” “cole slaw,” and “cookie.” The orange colour in the New York Mets uniform is an homage to Dutch heritage. What if the Dutch had been able to repel the British invaders? Would we all be speaking Dutch? Don’t wooden shoes cause blisters? But take off those shoes, put your feet up and read, an excellent read.

By Russell Shorto,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Island at the Center of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a riveting, groundbreaking narrative, Russell Shorto tells the story of New Netherland, the Dutch colony which pre-dated the Pilgrims and established ideals of tolerance and individual rights that shaped American history. 

"Astonishing . . . A book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past." --The New York Times

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely…

The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The Time Machine

Why did I love this book?

As an author, my genre is historical fiction and, presently, time travel, with a side-trip to steampunk. This classic novella is the quintessential time travel tale from the grandfather of science fiction itself and steampunk. As in my books, a young chrononaut (time traveller) travels through time. Unlike my books, this chrononaut travels into the future, not the past, and comes across a dwindling planet inhabited by two strange species, evolved from humanity. A quick read that leaves you wanting more trips on the steampunk time machine.

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant scientist constructs a machine, which, with the pull of a lever, propels him to the year AD 802,701.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of The Time Machine features an introduction by Dr Mark Bould.

The Time Traveller finds himself in a verdant, seemingly idyllic landscape where he is greeted by the diminutive Eloi people. The Eloi are beautiful but weak and indolent, and the explorer is perplexed by…

Book cover of The National Dream, The Last Spike

Why did I love this book?

I am an ex-railroader. During my university days, I worked as both a sectionman (repairing and maintaining a section of track) and a brakeman (riding “shotgun” and calling signals in the lead unit with the engineer). I also worked as a patrolman, operating a “speeder” in front of and behind a train. In front, I was looking for rocks and trees that might fall on the tracks. Following a train, my job was to put out any fires that may start as a result of sparks flying from heated brake pads. So, the classic story of the building of the trans-Canada railroad is appealing to me. The characters that were involved at the time Sir John A. McDonald, Louis Riel, William Van Horne, and Sir Sandford Fleming – were Alpha personalities that were usually on a collision course. A classic piece of Canadiana, enjoyable for anyone. They even made a movie a miniseries about it in the early 1970s.

By Pierre Berton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The National Dream, The Last Spike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an abridged version of two books, The National Dream and The Last Spike. This version deals mainly with the main story of building the railroad across Canada. It was produced as a CBC multi-million dollar television production. Most of the photos in the book were taken from production Location. Book is about 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches and 1 1/8 inches thick. Has a few maps.

Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Why did I love this book?

The first in a series, Pillars sets the stage for subsequent Follett masterpieces. I devoured this huge page-turner in no time at all. The graphic violence of the time contrasts its tender love-making. I shared Tom Builder’s angst when he returns to find his abandoned baby gone. Follett seems to be a wanna-be architect as he describes in glorious detail 12th Century churches and buildings. As a budding author, I learned a lot reading this book and its sequels. I’m still learning.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Pillars of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Oprah's Book Club Selection

The "extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece" (Booklist) that changed the course of Ken Follett's already phenomenal career-and begins where its prequel, The Evening and the Morning, ended.

"Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner," extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett's unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal.


Book cover of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation

Why did I love this book?

I write about time; the ticking of the clock and the passage through it. But when thinking about time zones and what time it is here or there, I still have to rely on imagining the sun at noon, here at home, and where in the sky that sun would be in the place in question. Time, the fourth dimension, is a confusing concept! While this book may shed some light on that concept, it asks more questions; about circadian rhythms, global regulation of time, and time as a social, and thus temporary, function. Not an easy read, Why Time Flies may take you some to complete, but it is worth the effort.

By Alan Burdick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Time Flies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An insightful meditation on the curious nature of time…A highly illuminating intellectual investigation” (Kirkus Reviews) explaining the sometimes contradictory ways we experience time.

“Time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it’s always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly?

“Erudite and informative, a joy with many small treasures” (Science), this witty and meditative exploration by award-winning…

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