I love the concept of time travel in books (and movies!). It just opens up so many creative possibilities, which make them so fun to read. So, here’s my list of the 50 Best Time Travel books!
This list includes titles released at any point in time, but has a slight preference for newer titles. It’s divided up into General Time Travel, Literary, Romance and Young Adult titles.
And feel free to drop a comment if you have a favorite time travel book that belongs on this list!
General Time Travel
What It's About: Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.
President John F. Kennedy is dead.
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family...Publication Date: November 8, 2011
What It's About: Memory makes reality.
That's what NYC cop Barry Sutton is learning, as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes...Publication Date: June 11, 2019
What It's About: For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received...Publication Date: June 5, 1992
What It's About: The first time the lightning strikes Laura Shane is born...
The second time it strikes the terror starts... though eight-year-old Laura is saved by a mysterious stranger from the perverted and deadly intentions of a drug-crazed robber. Throughout her childhood she is plagued by ever more terrifying troubles, and with increasing courage she finds the strength to prevail - even without the intervention of her strange guardian...Publication Date: September 2, 2003
What It's About: Jeff Winston was 43 and trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job, waiting for that time when he could be truly happy, when he died.
And when he woke and he was 18 again, with all his memories of the next 25 years intact. He could live his life again, avoiding the mistakes, making money from his knowledge of the future, seeking happiness...Publication Date: January 1, 1987
What It's About: Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes...Publication Date: April 8, 2014
What It's About: In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology...Publication Date: November 16, 1999
What It's About: A stunning tour de force filled with transcendent awe and wonder, Hyperion is a masterwork of science fiction that resonates with excitement and invention, the first volume in a remarkable epic by the multiple-award-winning author of The Hollow Man.
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the reach of galactic law, waits a creature called the Shrike...Publication Date: May 26, 1989
What It's About: When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn't look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tomcat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up 30 years later in the 21st century, a time very much to his liking...Publication Date: December 12, 2013
What It's About: In this haunting tale, Daphne du Maurier takes a fresh approach to time travel. A secret experimental concoction, once imbibed, allows you to return to the fourteenth century. There is only one catch: if you happen to touch anyone while traveling in the past you will be thrust instantaneously to the present...Publication Date: January 1, 2000
What It's About: Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police...Publication Date: July 19, 2001
What It's About: Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck...
Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do...Publication Date: July 29, 2014
What It's About: One of Isaac Asimov's SF masterpieces, this stand-alone novel is a monument of the flowering of SF in the 20th century. It is widely regarded as Asimov's single best SF novel and one every SF fan should read.
Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes...Publication Date: March 29, 2011
What It's About: The capstone and crowning achievement of the Future History series, from the New York Times bestselling Grand Master of Science Fiction...
Time Enough for Love follows Lazarus Long through a vast and magnificent timescape of centuries and worlds. Heinlein's longest and most ambitious work, it is the story of a man so in love with Life that he refused to stop living it; and so in love with Time that he became his own ancestor.Publication Date: August 15, 1988
What It's About: From bestselling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed historical and contemporary commercial novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller combining history, science, magic, mystery, intrigue, and adventure that questions the very foundations of the modern world...Publication Date: June 13, 2017
What It's About: One of Wall Street Journal's Best of 2017
"Entertainingly mixes thrills and humor."--Entertainment Weekly
"[An] amazing debut novel. . . . Dazzling and complex. . . . Fearlessly funny storytelling."--The Washington Post
"Instantly engaging. . . . A timeless, if mind-bending, story about the journeys we take, populated by friends, family, lovers, and others, that show us who we might be, could be--and maybe never should be--that eventually leads us to who we are...Publication Date: February 7, 2017
What It's About: In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. Curtis stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back...Publication Date: April 15, 2013
What It's About: What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual...Publication Date: March 14, 2013
What It's About: “I’ve had a most amazing time....”
So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes...Publication Date: March 21, 2017
What It's About: There is a secret passage through time...and it leads all the way to the end of Eternity. But the journey has a terrible cost. It alters not only the future but the "present" in which we live.
A century after the publication of H. G. Wells' immortal The Time Machine, Stephen Baxter, today's most acclaimed new "hard SF" author, and the acknowledged Clarke, returns to the distant conflict between the Eloi and the Morlocks in a story that is at once an exciting expansion, and a radical departure based on the astonishing new understandings of quantum physics.Publication Date: November 27, 1995
What It's About: SOS FROM A FUTURE THAT WILL NEVER BE
It's amazing enough when Murdoch Ross's brilliant grandfather invents a machine that can send messages to itself in the past or the future. But when signals begin to arrive without being sent, Murdoch realizes that every action he takes changes the future that would have been...Publication Date: February 12, 1980
What It's About: This classic work of science fiction is widely considered to be the ultimate time-travel novel. When Daniel Eakins inherits a time machine, he soon realizes that he has enormous power to shape the course of history. He can foil terrorists, prevent assassinations, or just make some fast money at the racetrack...Publication Date: June 10, 2003
What It's About: Joe Haldeman "has quietly become one of the most important science fiction writers of our time" (Rocky Mountain News). Now he delivers a provocative novel of a man who stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime-or many lifetimes.
Grad-school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when, while measuring subtle quantum forces that relate to time changes in gravity and electromagnetic force, his calibrator turns into a time machine...Publication Date: August 7, 2007
What It's About: 'One of those complex and enormously inventive stories... based on some real, honest, practical ethical thinking. It is an idea book.'
- Groff Conklin in Galaxy Science Fiction
Asher Sutton has been lost in deepest space for twenty years. Suddenly arrives a warning from the future, that he will return- and that he must be killed...Publication Date: Not Available
What It's About: The first book in the bestselling British madcap time-travelling series, served with a dash of wit that seems to be everyone’s cup of tea.
“History is just one damned thing after another.” —Arnold Toynbee
Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place...Publication Date: June 1, 2013
What It's About: Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin . . .
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle...Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Literary Time Travel
What It's About: The visionary author’s masterpiece pulls us—along with her Black female hero—through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
Dana, a modern Black woman, is celebrating her 26th birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South...Publication Date: December 1, 2023
What It's About: Slaughterhouse-Five is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a chaplain's assistant named Billy Pilgrim. It is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. Vonnegut's use of the firebombing of Dresden as a central event makes the novel semi-autobiographical, because he was present then.Publication Date: March 31, 1969
What It's About: One of the greatest satires in American literature, Mark Twain's 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' begins when Hank Morgan, a skilled mechanic in a nineteenth-century New England arms factory, is struck on the head during a quarrel and awakens to find himself among the knights and magicians of King Arthur's Camelot...Publication Date: November 2, 2004
Time Travel Romance
What It's About: This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry, who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry was thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future...Publication Date: May 6, 2014
What It's About: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...Publication Date: June 1, 1991
What It's About: Science fiction, mystery, a passionate love story, and a detailed history of Old New York blend together in Jack Finney's spellbinding story of a young man enlisted in a secret Government experiment.
Transported from the mid-twentieth century to New York City in the year 1882, Si Morley walks the fashionable "Ladies' Mile" of Broadway, is enchanted by the jingling sleigh bells in Central Park, and solves a 20th-century mystery by discovering its 19th-century roots...Publication Date: Not Available
What It's About: A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander
New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more...Publication Date: October 2, 2018
What It's About: "Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough."
Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time...Publication Date: April 15, 2011
What It's About: Somewhere in Time is the powerful story of a love that transcends time and space, written by one of the Grand Masters of modern fantasy.
Matheson's classic novel tells the moving, romantic story of a modern man whose love for a woman he has never met draws him back in time to a luxury hotel in San Diego in 1896, where he finds his soul mate in the form of a celebrated actress of the previous century...Publication Date: February 24, 1975
What It's About: Connie Willis' Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K...Publication Date: December 1, 1997
What It's About: In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book...Publication Date: September 10, 2019
What It's About: Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter...Publication Date: July 16, 2019
What It's About: In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.
Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next...Publication Date: May 1, 2019
What It's About: Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world.
Miranda and Sal are best friends, but when Sal gets punched by a new kid for no apparent reason, he shuts Miranda out of his life. Then she finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own...Publication Date: July 14, 2009
What It's About: When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence...Publication Date: September 15, 2012
What It's About: Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa...Publication Date: February 16, 2016
What It's About: A THOUSAND LIVES. A THOUSAND POSSIBILITIES. ONE FATE.
Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother's latest invention, a device called the Firebird that allows people to leap into alternate dimensions...Publication Date: November 4, 2014
What It's About: When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time...Publication Date: March 1, 2016
What It's About: It was a dark and stormy night.
Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.
Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in Madeleine L'Engle's classic Time Quintet.Publication Date: May 1, 2007
What It's About: Imagine changing centuries--and making things worse, not better, on both sides of time.
Imagine being involved in two love triangles in two different centuries. What if, no matter which direction you travel in time, you must abandon someone you love?
Meet 15-year-old Annie Lockwood, a romantic living in the wrong century...Publication Date: July 1, 1995
What It's About: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children...Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Other Time Travel Books
What It's About: A Christmas Carol was first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843. It has become a Christmas classic and has been continuously in print since its first release, as well as being made into numerous plays and movies. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come...Publication Date: December 17, 1843