Time travel books are one of my favorite types of fiction to read (Here’s looking at you, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series). The real world can only move forward in a straight line, but thankfully there are time travel books where authors play with time as much as they want without worrying about physics. They play with time loops, time slips, and plots similar to Groundhog Day. Below I’ve gathered some of my favorite time travel books, as well as ones that are on my to-read list. Descriptions are provided by the publishers. Share your favorites in the comments below!
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
From award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comes an enthralling, romantic novel spanning time and space about two time-traveling rivals who fall in love and must change the past to ensure their future.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. That’s how war works, right?
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston
An overworked book publicist with a perfectly planned future hits a snag when she falls in love with her temporary roommate…only to discover he lives seven years in the past, in this witty and wise new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dead Romantics.
Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it.
So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it.
And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again.
Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future.
Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed.
After all, love is never a matter of time—but a matter of timing.
Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher
Every night, as Faye puts her daughters to bed, she thinks of her own mother, Jeanie, who died when Faye was eight. The pain of that loss has never left her, and that’s why she wants her own girls to know how very much they are loved by her—and always will be, whatever happens.
Then one day, Faye gets her heart’s desire when she’s whisked back into the past and is reunited not just with her mother but with her own younger self.
Jeanie doesn’t recognize grown-up Faye as her daughter, even though there is something eerily familiar about her. But the two women become close friends and share all kinds of secrets—except for the deepest secret of all, the secret of who Faye really is. Faye worries that telling the truth may prevent her from being able to return to the present day, to her dear husband and beloved daughters. Eventually she’ll have to choose between those she loved in the past and those she loves in the here and now, and that knowledge presents her with an impossible choice.
If only she didn’t have to make it….
Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major
It is an ordinary Monday and harried London literary agent Emma is flying out of the door as usual. Preoccupied with work and her ever growing to-do list, she fails to notice her lovely husband Dan seems bereft, her son can barely meet her eye, and her daughter won’t go near her. Even the dog seems sad.
She is far too busy, buried deep in her phone; social media alerts pinging; clients messaging with “emergencies”; keeping track of a dozen WhatsApp groups about the kids’ sports, school, playdates, all of it. Her whole day is frantic—what else is new—and as she rushes back through the door for dinner, Dan is still upset. They fight, and he walks out, desolate, dragging their poor dog around the block. Just as she realizes it is their anniversary and she has forgotten, again, she hears the screech of brakes.
Dan is dead.
The next day Emma wakes up… and Dan is alive. And it’s Monday again.
Emma tries desperately to change the course of fate by doing different things each time she wakes up: leaving WhatsApp, telling her boss where to get off, writing to Dan, listening to her kids, reaching out to forgotten friends, getting drunk and buying out Prada. But will Emma have the chance to find herself again, remember what she likes about her job, reconnect with her children, love her husband? Will this be enough to change the fate they seem destined for?
Five First Chances by Sarah Jost
What would you do if you had one more chance for the life of your dreams?
Lou feels like she is stuck on the wrong path: alone, in a city far from home, watching other people be happy. When the man she’s in love with announces his engagement to someone else, Lou is consumed by ‘what ifs’.
That’s when she finds herself slipping back in time to a night two years ago, where one small decision changed everything…
Suddenly, Lou has a chance to fix her mistakes. But as her choices lead her down roads she never could have imagined, she finds herself stuck in a time loop of her own making. And with each slip, Lou notices her life intersecting with one person again and again. A friend of a friend who once lived on the periphery, who is slowly becoming the one person who makes her feel like she might finally be on the right track.
Lou is about to realize that our greatest love stories aren’t always the ones we expected, but are the ones we choose to fight for.
For anyone who has ever felt stuck on the wrong path comes a stunning, time-bending love story that challenges what it means to get things “right,” the kind of book that will pull at your heartstrings and make you realize that if you just open yourself up to the possibilities, our world is full of inspiring people poised to change everything…and you might just be one of them.
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything . . .
Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.
The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.
As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere—and any-when…
Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.
Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.
Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.
Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
Long Division by Kiese Laymon
Written in a voice that’s alternately humorous, lacerating, and wise, Long Division features two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest, fourteen-year-old Citoyen “City” Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity. The next day, he’s sent to stay with his grandmother in the small coastal community of Melahatchie, where a young girl named Baize Shephard has recently disappeared.
Before leaving, City is given a strange book without an author called Long Division. He learns that one of the book’s main characters is also named City Coldson—but Long Division is set in 1985. This 1985-version of City, along with his friend and love interest, Shalaya Crump, discovers a way to travel into the future, and steals a laptop and cellphone from an orphaned teenage rapper called…Baize Shephard. They ultimately take these items with them all the way back to 1964, to help another time-traveler they meet to protect his family from the Ku Klux Klan. City’s two stories ultimately converge in the work shed behind his grandmother’s house, where he discovers the key to Baize’s disappearance.
Have you read any of these time travel books? Do you have any favorites? Share in the comments below.