The best time travel books

89 authors have picked their favorite books about time travel and why they recommend each book.

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Jackie & Me

By Dan Gutman,

Book cover of Jackie & Me

Kids who love the minutiae of sport - collecting the cards, following the stats, learning the teams and their star players - are often drawn to history as well. Dan Gutman gets this, and the Baseball Card Adventures is a brilliant series for giving young readers a way into a nuanced US history. In Jackie and Me, the hero, Stosh, is thrown out of Little League for attacking a pitcher who mocked his Polish heritage - “You know you can’t hit me, Stoshack. Because you’re a big, slow, ugly, dumb Polack!” Back at school, Stosh elects to write a book report on Jackie Robinson, and uses his magical baseball card to travel back in time. Stosh experiences Robinson’s first Major League game and the breaking of the color bar in baseball, finding a new perspective on difference and discrimination. Gutman writes colorful dialogue that kids really respond to, and…


Who am I?

I am an expat Australian freelance writer living in Silicon Valley, and also the mother of two boys aged ten and seven. My boys are avid readers and it is an accepted rule that no one in our family speaks at breakfast. I have a bad habit of reading books over their shoulders, but my boys are still willing helpers on some current writing projects on kids’ fiction and circumnavigating the horribly sad “decline at nine”. I also have a PhD in South Asian Studies and have worked in commercial research and marketing.


My project is...

Madelaine @ Medium

I love to write and you can find some of my work on Medium. My last article was entitled Why Are Chihuahuas Filling Up Bay Area Shelters? 

The Halloween Tree

By Ray Bradbury, Joseph Mugnaini (illustrator),

Book cover of The Halloween Tree

A wonderful, beautiful book, written in Bradbury’s inimitable style. Not only is The Halloween Tree (first published in 1972) entertaining and superbly written, it also provides a crash course in Halloween history. It also served as the basis for a charming 1993 animated television movie. There are editions available from different illustrators, including Gris Grimly and Bradbury's longtime collaborator Joseph Mugnaini, but the gorgeous story will always be what's front and center here.


Who am I?

As a kid growing up in Southern California during the 1960s – what some now call “Golden Age of Trick or Treating” – I always loved Halloween, but I didn’t develop a real obsession with it until I wrote The Halloween Encyclopedia (first published in 2003). Since then, Halloween – once almost exclusively an American celebration – has achieved global popularity, and has created an entire cottage industry in haunted attractions. I remain fascinated by Halloween’s continuous expansion and evolution.


I wrote...

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

By Lisa Morton,

Book cover of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

What is my book about?

Halloween has spread around the world, yet its associations with death and the supernatural as well as its inevitable commercialization have made it one of our most puzzling holidays. How did it become what it is today?

Trick or Treat is the first book to examine the origins and history of Halloween and to explore its current global popularity. Festivals like the Celtic Samhain and Catholic All Souls’ Day have blended to produce the modern Halloween, which has been reborn with new customs in America—but there are also related but independent holidays, especially Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Lisa Morton lifts the cobwebs off everything from the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions to the impact of events like the global economic recession, as well as the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through literary works, films, and television series.

All You Zombies

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of All You Zombies: Five Classic Stories

If there's one book that sums up the mind-bending and downright contradictory notions of travelling through time then this is it. Heinlein – the king of science fiction – wickedly and expertly messes with everything you consider to be possible. What's more, he only needs a short story to do it. It's utter genius at work. You'll still be thinking about it long after finishing the last page.


Who am I?

I’m an award-winning astronomy author, writer, and speaker who has talked to over half a million people about the universe, including schools, the public, and businesses. My eighteen books have sold more than 350,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into 21 languages. I’ve written over 200 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, The Wall Street Journal, and European Space Agency. In recognition of my efforts to popularise astronomy, the asteroid (15347) Colinstuart is named after me. I also won The Margaret Mallett Award for Children’s Non-Fiction in 2020, was a runner-up in the European Astronomy Journalism Prize and am a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.


I wrote...

Time: 10 Things You Should Know

By Colin Stuart,

Book cover of Time: 10 Things You Should Know

What is my book about?

As a subject, it has perplexed and fascinated generations of scientists, historians and more, and continues to spark the most intriguing questions being asked in science today. Can time be stopped? Is time travel possible? Does time even exist...?

In these ten bite-sized essays, Colin Stuart delves into these big questions and uncovers the most awe-inspiring and revealing things we should all know about time. Perfect for readers of Carlo Rovelli and anyone fascinated by space and the universe, this is a must-read for those short on time, but not curiosity.

The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The Time Machine

H.G. Wells was way ahead of his time, and The Time Machine proves this. Although usually considered to be pure Science Fiction, I would argue that it has horror elements to it as well. Our hero, the Time Traveller, finds himself flung far into the future where mankind has evolved into two distinct species, the Eloi and their carnivorous masters, the cave-dwelling Morlocks. Some of the writing in this is pure horror, and Wells writes in such a ‘modern’ way that readers in the 21st Century can still relate to it.


Who am I?

After picking up a copy of James Herbert’s Lair (the second in his Rats trilogy) back in the early 80s, I decided I wanted to write something myself one day. That day came in about 1990, when I finished my first manuscript, Minstrel’s Bargain. I also wrote another MS around that time called Point of Contact, but nothing happened with these stories and I gave up on my writing dreams to concentrate on bringing up a family. Fast forward to 2015, and I sent the MS for Minstrel’s Bargain to an indie publisher. To my surprise, they took it on, and that book has spawned two sequels, entitled the Prophecy Trilogy. 


I wrote...

Point of Contact

By Richard Ayre,

Book cover of Point of Contact

What is my book about?

After the body of a man is found mysteriously burned to death in his home, Northumbria Police know there is only one person they can call on to help; fire Investigator Ian Fenwick, a man fighting his own demons. Fenwick soon finds himself pitched against crazed killers and mysterious entities known only as The Visitors. Can Fenwick stop them from carrying out their mission? If not, the whole world will burn.

The Time Shifters Chronicles Volume 1

By Shanna Lauffey,

Book cover of The Time Shifters Chronicles Volume 1: Episodes One - Five of the Chronicles of the Harekaiian

As much as Fantasy readers bemoan getting lumped in with Science Fiction in general, sometimes there is a crossover that justifies the relatively recent category of Science Fantasy.

Time Shifters, and its wonderful sequels, fall into Science Fiction by virtue of the element of time travel. However, this is an exciting series with Mystery, Thriller, and certainly Fantasy elements. It's fast moving, exciting, has a touch of Romance. It appeals to YA readers as much as those who prefer mature books. The sub-plots are numerous and the society of the Time Shifter people is unique and pretty amazing. It's well worth a read!


Who am I?

I've been an avid reader across many genres since I learned to read as a child and have wandered into all sorts of categories to find literature I love. Fantasy became my first love, but that didn't mean I had to abandon everything else. I like finding great books that don't make the big publisher lists with their generic output. Since the rise of indie publishing, I've developed a habit of sampling anything that sounds like it might be interesting and have found some amazing and very original stories!


I wrote...

Dance of the Goblins (The Goblin Trilogy)

By Jaq D. Hawkins,

Book cover of Dance of the Goblins (The Goblin Trilogy)

What is my book about?

The complete collection of the Fantasy trilogy that brought the Epic series to a new generation. World building based on the foundation of Traditional Fantasy.

The goblins lived unseen by man for many generations and were forgotten, consigned to legend, but a fluke sighting when a man wanders into the entrance of a forgotten underground transportation system revives an ancient war between the species, originated by misunderstanding and prejudice of a species which appears alien to the superstitious humans.

In the Garden of Iden

By Kage Baker,

Book cover of In the Garden of Iden

Kage Baker is an Isaac Asimov compared to Terry Pratchett’s Marx Brothers. In the Garden of Iden is more sci-fi than fantasy, including time travel, cybernetics, and nanotechnologies. And love and loss. This book is part of a series of novels that Baker crafted about time-travelling enhanced humans who carry out critical tasks throughout history. 

What I loved most about this book is how very human her main characters are. Like Pratchett and Bill Shakespeare, Baker is a master at showing us human nature. Her comedy is high comedy. I laugh because I recognize myself in her characters. Baker has a fine eye for the subtle and the absurd. And yet unlike many humorous authors, the tragedies of the heart are always at the core of her stories.


Who am I?

Where many people would see an empty package of Oreos, I see the remains of a lost civilization, an artifact crafted galaxies away by beings who flit in and out of existence in order to build rainbows for lonely children and who have left the empty bag, filled with dog poop, flaming on someone’s front step and are laughing uncontrollably as the person stomps on it to put it out. I want to find authors who see more than the bag of Oreos. I want them to be wildly imaginative and to paint what they see with cleverness and humor. I try to do the same.


I wrote...

Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom

By Jay Cutts,

Book cover of Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom

What is my book about?

It’s the last day of 10th grade. Annie Gomez’s biology teacher informs her that aliens are trying to control her mind. “Why not?” she thinks. “Everyone else is!”

The adventures of a group of brilliant but weird (too short, too tall, too artistic, too ethnic, too mature, too extraterrestrial) teens trying to save humanity. Their trials take them from a fairy dimension hidden within Earth to a far distant planet inhabited by intelligent rhino-like space travelers. As they try to save Earth, their lives are in continual danger, but, hey, it’s better than gym class.

All Clear

By Connie Willis,

Book cover of All Clear

It’s too easy, in time travel fantasies, to imagine that you would feel a step above the people around you... that you alone know what’s coming, and just, in general, have your advanced-future-person perspective on the world. That’s not how history should feel. The All Clear series’s time-traveling historians arrive to observe the London Blitz and have that comforting certainty ripped out from underneath them. They’re left lost, alone, and isolated in a well-painted portrait of a world on the edge of collapse.


Who am I?

I’m a Virginia-based science fiction and fantasy writer who’s lived variously-enriching lives as a coroner’s assistant, customer service manager, university lecturer, secretary, factory technician, and clerk. I’ve bounced all around the Midwest, from Minnesota to Ohio to Colorado to Missouri and now out on the East Coast.


I wrote...

Quietus

By Tristan Palmgren,

Book cover of Quietus

What is my book about?

Quietus, a science fiction novel set in the midst of the Black Death. It features a transdimensional anthropologist who can’t keep herself from interfering with one of the darkest periods of Earth’s history, a young Carthusian monk who’s the only survivor of his monastery, and a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

Quietus and its sequel, Terminus, were published in March and November of 2018 (the timing for books about a plague could have been better, could have been worse…). I also write prose novels for Marvel with Aconyte Books.

The House on the Strand

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of The House on the Strand

As a teenager, I glutted on the novels of Daphne du Maurier, and revelled in their Gothic thrills and the hints of darker compulsions and ambiguity which I did not fully comprehend. On re-reading a few not so long ago, I discovered that Rebecca was toppled from my personal number one spot by The House on the Strand. A time-travel story written long before it was voguish, it manages to achieve the delicate balance between the traditional, (albeit far-fetched) romantic love story and the more troubling question about perception and identity. This is not a peaceful novel as it is suffused with longings and a restlessness – there is also a vein of anger and disgust hovering below the surface - but it is both gripping and resonant and, for the purposes here, cathartic.


Who am I?

Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full-time. Her novels include the award-winning Consider the Lily, The Museum of Broken Promises, and the international bestseller, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, which was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Elizabeth’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She has reviewed for The Times, the Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She has been a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award.


I wrote...

Two Women in Rome

By Elizabeth Buchan,

Book cover of Two Women in Rome

What is my book about?

A city full of secrets…Lottie Archer arrives in Rome newly married and ready for change. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence. Nina seems to have led a rewarding life restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978? Researching Nina’s life, Lottie unravels a love story beset by the violence and political turmoil of post-war Italy – only to find that its betrayals and sacrifices subtly shape her own future.

"This gorgeously written novel has as many twists and shadows as the baroque city in which it is set." Daily Mail

Up the Line

By Robert Silverberg,

Book cover of Up the Line

This is a novel that explores all the complexities and paradoxes and oddities associated with time travel. It takes place in a future world in which time travel is a part of life, and so must be monitored and regulated like any other technology. Because time travel holds such a huge potential for disaster, strict rules must be established and enforced. But what happens when somebody flaunts those rules for their own personal enjoyment? This novel explores these concepts in a wild, and often erotic, fashion. 

This book really perpetuated my love of time-travel tales and all the complexities involved in a society where time travel is an accepted norm. It's a totally fun novel that deals with some truly existential concepts in an entertaining way and inspires that sense of wonder that fans of SF crave. It's one of those stories that stick with you for many, many years…


Who am I?

I've been an avid reader of SF in general, and its sub-genre of time-travel, for most of my life, and have tackled this topic in my own writings as well. Time-travel tales often deal with inherent paradoxes, such as the Grandfather Paradox, which asks: If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, would you then never be born and therefore never commit the murder? If so, then your grandfather lives and you were born and . . . Such paradoxes boggle the mind and provide fascinating territory for SF authors to explore. 


I wrote...

Little Bird

By Seth Chambers,

Book cover of Little Bird

What is my book about?

Little Bird is a powerful SF novel of love and transformation featuring a young Chinese woman with the remarkable ability to shapeshift into any form she desires. She has a very strong personality, and yet also struggles with her own identity. Who is she, after all, when everything about her can change overnight? 

Song falls in love with a museum curator named Alex, who assures her that he loves her for who she is inside, and not for the myriad beautiful women Song becomes for him. They get engaged, but then their love faces its ultimate obstacle when Song's very identity changes so that Alex no longer recognizes her.

The Chronocar

By Steve Bellinger,

Book cover of The Chronocar: An Urban Adventure In Time

This contemporary SF novel deals with a lot of the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts aspect of time travel, as well as providing an intriguing story. So many time-travel stories gloss over many of the implications of this technology, but The Chronocar doesn't shy away from such concepts. It also features believable, rough-around-the-edges characters and a truly surprising plot twist. Also, one of my favorite things about this novel is how reminiscent it is of Golden Age SF. 


Who am I?

I've been an avid reader of SF in general, and its sub-genre of time-travel, for most of my life, and have tackled this topic in my own writings as well. Time-travel tales often deal with inherent paradoxes, such as the Grandfather Paradox, which asks: If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, would you then never be born and therefore never commit the murder? If so, then your grandfather lives and you were born and . . . Such paradoxes boggle the mind and provide fascinating territory for SF authors to explore. 


I wrote...

Little Bird

By Seth Chambers,

Book cover of Little Bird

What is my book about?

Little Bird is a powerful SF novel of love and transformation featuring a young Chinese woman with the remarkable ability to shapeshift into any form she desires. She has a very strong personality, and yet also struggles with her own identity. Who is she, after all, when everything about her can change overnight? 

Song falls in love with a museum curator named Alex, who assures her that he loves her for who she is inside, and not for the myriad beautiful women Song becomes for him. They get engaged, but then their love faces its ultimate obstacle when Song's very identity changes so that Alex no longer recognizes her.

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