Literary Time Travel,

If I could have a super power I would choose the ability to travel through time. Maybe that’s not really considered a super power but whatever. I’d choose it anyway and I would only travel backwards in time. Not forward. I’m okay with the mystery of what’s to come. I don’t really want to know about the future but I would like to experience first hand some of the things that I have read about or seen in photos.

I could watch Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettyburg Address. I could visit the 1893 Chicago World Fair and ride the Ferris wheel. I could get to know my parents when they were my age. The list goes on. This desire for time travel fuels my choice in books as well. Historical fiction is one way to travel through time and I do enjoy that genre but what I really love is a book that deals with time travel itself.

In that vein, I thought I would share a list of my favorite time travel books. They are arranged according to their publication dates. Each one, in my opinion is an exciting ride.

The Time Machine –H.G. Wells (1895)

  You can’t really discuss literary time travel without starting here. Wells Time Traveler goes forward in time which is not my preferred direction but the thrill is still there. Being able to set a date on a dial and send yourself to that place and see what the future holds is a staggering idea! I actually saw the film version with Rod Taylor years before I read the book.  As a result, I can’t read this with out picturing the blue skinned morlocks and the mannequin the Time Traveler observes changing her fashion as he moves forward in time.

Time and Again- Jack Finney (1970)

 Though written in 1970, I only recently discovered this book on a Goodreads top ten list. In this story a bored New York City advertising man is approached by a government agency interested in recruiting him for a secret experiment in time traveling. The quirk in this time travel theory (because of course every author has their own), is that the traveler has to be in a place that existed during the time they wish to travel to. Our hero moves into the historic Dakota apartment building on Central Park and begins to immerse himself in the past. We learn about New York during the turn of the century and experience life through the eyes of someone who knows what the future brings. 

Timeline- Michael Crichton (1999)

 This book has been a favorite of mine for quite some time (pardon the pun). In this a group of archeologists working on a dig in France discover a message buried in the dig site that appears to be a plea for help written in English and in handwriting that appears to belong to their missing team leader. Eventually through the use of quantum physics, they are transported back to 14th century France in order to rescue their friend. I think what appeals to me most about this story is that the characters are a group of historians and academics who have researched and obsessed about this particular time period only to be dropped into the middle of it like kids in a candy shop! They can actually see what they have only theorized about. Also, if you have ever read anything by Michael Crichton (Jurrasic Park, Airframe, The Adromeda Strain) you know that he never does anything half way. He’s done so much research into quantum physics and multi verse theory and explains it so logically that you almost believe time travel could be possible. On a side note, this book was made into a really bad movie. If you’ve seen it, please don’t judge the story based on that.


11/22/63- Stephen King (2011)

 And then there’s this, the novel that asks the question that everyone who has considered time travel has thought about: Is it possible to go back in time and change the past? I’m a little surprised that Stephen King had not tackled this subject before considering he is a master of the strange and unusual. I really enjoyed all of the historic detail King included in the story. I found myself reading up on Lee Harvey Oswald and the events leading up to Kennedy’s death just to find out more and to confirm the information being given in the novel. The hero is an ordinary guy who stumbles into the fantastic, a very likable guy who struggles with his moral duty and has to make some very difficult decisions. The ending of the book seemed to go on longer than was necessary but King’s tales tend to do that.

I’ve read others, but these are my favorite so far. I would love to hear your thoughts on these books or some recommendations for further time travel adventure I could take!


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11 responses to “Literary Time Travel,

  1. Pingback: An A to Z of Literary Ladies – Kate Erickson | The View from the Porch

  2. I love books about time travel, too! I actually have not read any on your list. Did not know about the Stephen King book. I may have to look that one up. I too would love to travel back in time. Many historical moments to visit, but mostly for the ability to get to know family- the ones I grew up with, and those that came long before I existed. Through that you would find plenty of history, already, I’m thinking. I did try Outlander. Just couldn’t get through it. Just not my style. They have made a TV series out of Outlander now. You’d have to google it to find out what channel, however, as I am unsure of who is airing it.

    • It would be neat to “hang out” with my parents or grandparents when they were young! I’ve always wondered if my grandmother was as spunky as a teenager as she was as a senior!
      I read the first Outlander book but it took me so long to get through it that I never made it to the next. I may try this summer. I also caught one episode of the series. It wasn’t bad but I never got around to watching the rest. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you get to read some of the books!

  3. I’m glad to hear you say that. It took me a long time to get through Outlander so when I was finished I was hesitant to start the next one (I didn’t know the title of the next one either till I read it here!). Now I may put it on my summer reading list.

    I felt the same way about 11/22/63. I was glad he didn’t just try to fit a happy ending in although there were some pretty nail biting moments in Dallas, when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen!

  4. The concept of going back and visiting the past is one that fascinates me too.

    The only book I’ve read in this list is Stephen King’s and I really liked it. I was curious as to where he was going to take his story and the end didn’t disappoint me. We always assume things will be better and he disabused us of that notion. I was sad when the book was finished … I wanted so much more story.

    btw – I’m in the final several pages of reading Dragonfly in Amber. I’ve enjoyed this book more than Outlander. If I hadn’t bought both books at the same time, I doubt I would have read Dragonfly. Now I’m inclined to get the 3rd book.

  5. I’d love to travel through time as well, there are so many things it would be amazing to see. But I’d like to be able to get back as well 🙂

    I find time so interesting, I wrote a book about it (The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management) but I feel like I could write more because it’s a tough topic to exhaust.

    Do you watch Doctor Who? I think you might enjoy it.

    • I have never watched Doctor Who because I can never figure out where to start! There are so many Doctors! I’m afraid if I don’t see it from the beginning I won’t get what’s going on! Any suggestions?

      Thanks for the tip about your book. I’ve seen the title on your page but didn’t realize what it was about!

  6. Ooo! I’ve not heard of that one. I will look it up! Thanks.

  7. Absolutely loved this post! Makes me feel like reading some of these books. I have recently read a book called Outlander that is about time travel. It’s beautifully written and the story is very catchy, yet a bit lengthy. Have you heard about it?

    • Yes, I have read The first Outlander book. I understand there are quite a number in the series. I enjoyed it very much, especially the two main characters. Like you said, though, it was a bit long. It took me quite a while to get through it with all the Scottish history involved that I wasn’t familiar with. I may go back an read the next one this summer just to see what happens to Clare and Jamie!!
      Thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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