The best time travel books 📚

Browse the best books on time travel as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of A Wish After Midnight

A Wish After Midnight

By Zetta Elliot

Why this book?

Two Black teenagers in New York are thrown back in time to the Civil War era. Suddenly the similarities and differences of what it means to be Black in America are also thrown into relief, past and present both converging and clashing. Genna is our first-person narrator, and through her, we live fully in two worlds—one in which she struggles to go to college and leave behind the dangers of her Brooklyn neighborhood and one in which she struggles to stay alive in a volatile society which offers little support to the poor and vulnerable of any race.

From the list:

The best historical YA fiction books with an emphasis on fantastical history

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Book cover of The Time Machine

The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells

Why this book?

The first time-travel book I read, which is kind of appropriate, since it’s widely regarded as the first one written, and inspired many later works. It showed me that a great science fiction story, at its heart, is simply a great story set in a world that is somehow “other.” As a budding writer, I loved the freedom that a far distant future gave the author to imagine what might happen to the human race over the course of several hundred thousand years, and present a picture of an apparent utopia that had a hidden, and much darker, side. 

From the list:

The best time travel stories that have stood the test of… er… time

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Book cover of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

By Douglas Adams

Why this book?

The eponymous eatery is Milliways, which exists in a time-bubble near the end of the universe. Adams likely needs no introduction, but it is hard to find anyone to match his wit, humour, and way with words. It's no wonder Elon Musk decided to put a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox of the Tesla Roadster he launched into space back in February 2018. 

From the list:

The best books about time travel from an expert on time

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Book cover of The Science of Doctor Who: The Scientific Facts Behind the Time Warps and Space Travels of the Doctor

The Science of Doctor Who: The Scientific Facts Behind the Time Warps and Space Travels of the Doctor

By Mark Brake

Why this book?

I'm a sucker for time travel stories and they don't come much more bountiful than in the long-running TV show Doctor Who. I love it, particularly the juxtaposition between the ancient Gallifreyan's boundless enthusiasm and deep emotional trauma from seeing everyone he (and now she) loves come and go over time. Over the last 60 years, the show has tackled pretty much every paradox and possibility. Brake's book weaves the physics behind the TARDIS into backstage insights into the show.

From the list:

The best books about time travel from an expert on time

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Book cover of Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction

Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction

By Paul J. Nahin

Why this book?

I’ve never met Nahin but I recognize in him a kindred spirit of someone similarly obsessed with time. If you want to know about time travel, here it is in all its glory. The “tech notes” at the end show that this is a labor of love. Not only will you encounter some of the most fascinating physics (in the works of Godel, Novikov, Thorne, Tipler, and dozens more), but you’ll also learn about early science fiction, the threat of fatalism, the history of the idea that time is the fourth dimension, and more.

From the list:

The best books on time for people who love physics and deep thinking

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Book cover of A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L'Engle

Why this book?

As a child reading this classic middle grade novel, I wanted to be Meg Murry, the clever teenage protagonist. She and her kind-of boyfriend Calvin tesseract through space with three witches to rescue Meg’s scientist father and eventually her younger brother, Charles Wallace, from an Evil Force. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between Meg and her younger brother: it’s her love for him, her absolute acceptance of him as he is, that breaks him free. P.S. As an adult, I love that Meg’s mother is also a scientist.
From the list:

The best books with aliens that are not science fiction

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