What is it about time travel stories that continually bring us back to the wonderful paradoxes and entrapments of the genre? One of the great realms of science fiction, it is populated by many famous authors and their best-selling works. You have probably already read things like The Time Machine by H. G. Wells and Madam L’Engle’s famous entry A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve put together highly rated and popular time travel books containing everything from time-spanning wars to sizzling romances that stretch across past, present, and future.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar
When two spies on opposite sides of a giant, bitter war that stretches across time start exchanging letters, something unexpected happens—they fall in love. Written in poetic prose, this is an intimate and all-consuming book of science fiction that will gladly take up your time.
Outlander by Diana Galbadon
For anyone looking to for some sizzling romance along with their time travel comes the best-selling story by Diana Galbadon, Outlander. When Claire Randall walks through a standing stone on her second honeymoon in 1945 she could never guess she would emerge in Scotland in the year 1743—nearly 200 years earlier. Lost in a Scotland ravished by war between many raiding clans, she meets a brave warrior named James Fraser who shows her a strength and love so absolute that Claire wonders if its her other life she should leave behind and not the past.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
When not saving people from their own time-travel travesties, Charles Yu tries to find his father who just happened to invent the wonderous technology to allow everyone to travel through time—and then mysteriously disappeared. Yu discovers that they key to finding his father might just be in a book that his future self wrote and shows up to give him, called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
This is charmingly meta book packed with puckish paradoxes that make you think in fun and interesting directions.Do your future self a favor and get this book!
Recursion by Blake Crouch
New York City cop Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith find themselves forced to team up to solve what’s causing False Memory Syndrome—a disorder that occurs as the result of a startling technological advance that allows humans to travel back through time and live alternate, perfected lives. At least that’s what they think…
Hailed as a thrumming puzzle box time-travel story grappling with the major themes of time, memory, and loss, Recursion is definitely a best seller that everyone one of your reading friends is going to be talking about so you might as well get it now.
The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
Blending noir detective fiction and time travel, The Gone World follows special agent Shannon Moss as she tries to solve a gruesome murder of a Navy Seal’s entire family and locate his missing daughter. In a universe where time travel has become possible for a select few, Moss uses this rare technology to uncover a devastating discovery: that this murder is actually part of the Terminus—the complete destruction and end of humanity. She just has to figure out how to stop it.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Private William Mandella joins a massive interstellar war on far away planets with futuristic firepower on the behalf of humanity and planet Earth. He begins training at the edge of our solar system and is then sent to battle fronts against a mysterious enemy about which humanity knows very little at the very edges of space itself.
The real novelty and timelessness of The Forever War is its exploration of aging and what it is like to grow old, to grow up a certain way embracing certain values, and be alive as a culture changes and embraces new and very different values. Due to the effects of space travel and Einsteinian “time dilation,” Private Mandella ages mere months while the earth he leaves behind with each mission ages centuries. This is a stimulating way to grapple with epochal change in contrast to an individual subjectivity, and no doubt one of the main reasons why it won all the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Awards. Definitely a must read for all ages.
Timeline by Michael Chrichton
Timeline is an interesting twist on your classic time travel story that is sure to get you hooked quickly after you open this popular book. Shortly after making a discovery at a medieval site a band of archeologists are swept off to the top secret headquarters of a giant shadowy corporation that has created a powerful new technology that makes time travel and travel possible. A dangerous gateway from history to the present has opened, and the dead are able to wander through to the land of the living. This leaves a terrible question facing our band of archeologists: will these be able to overcome humanity’s ancient and terrible past or will they be captured by it forever?
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audry Niffenegger
This best-selling book follows an adventurous librarian named Henry DeTamble who involuntarily travels through time and his artistic wife Clare who lives life in an ordered and linear time. The story is told in sterling prose from both Henry and Clare’s perspectives as their love is tested time and time again.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
When a young girl appears beside his death bed with a simple note Harry could have never guessed what sequence of events might follow. And that’s saying something because this was his eleventh life! Next he must traverse his past to prevent a terrible future from destroying everything he holds dear.