The Greatest "Time travel" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Time travel

The category of "Time travel" books typically involves stories where characters travel through time, either intentionally or accidentally, to different eras or periods in history. These books often explore the consequences of altering the past or future, and the challenges and dangers that come with navigating different time periods. Time travel books can span a variety of genres, including science fiction, historical fiction, romance, and adventure, and offer readers a unique perspective on the possibilities and complexities of time travel.

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  1. 1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    The novel follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who has become "unstuck in time," experiencing his life events out of order. This includes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the Allies' firebombing, his post-war life as a successful optometrist, his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his eventual death. The book is a critique of war and a demonstration of the destructive nature of time, with a nonlinear narrative that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life.

    The 54th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

    The novel follows the life of a young nobleman in Elizabethan England who inexplicably transforms into a woman at the age of 30 and lives on for three centuries without aging. Throughout the centuries, the protagonist experiences various historical events, engages in relationships with both men and women, and explores the complexities of gender identity and sexuality. The book is an exploration of the fluidity of gender and time, as well as a critique of societal norms and expectations.

    The 146th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

    A Victorian-era scientist invents a machine that allows him to travel through time. He first journeys to the year 802,701 A.D., where he encounters the Eloi, a society of small, elegant, childlike adults who live in harmony but lack curiosity and drive. He later discovers the Morlocks, a nocturnal, subterranean species who prey on the Eloi. After rescuing an Eloi named Weena, the protagonist loses his time machine and must devise a plan to recover it and return to his own time, all while exploring the social and evolutionary implications of the two distinct societies.

    The 185th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    The novel follows the story of a young girl named Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they embark on a cosmic journey to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father. The father, a scientist, has been missing since he discovered a new planet using the concept of Tesseract, which is a wrinkle in time. Guided by three mysterious celestial beings, the children travel across different dimensions, face evil forces, and learn about the power of love and self-sacrifice.

    The 203rd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

    "Kindred" is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that follows the life of Dana, a young African American woman living in the 1970s. Suddenly, she finds herself inexplicably transported back in time to the early 19th century, where she becomes entangled in the lives of her ancestors, who are enslaved on a plantation. As Dana navigates the brutal realities of slavery, she grapples with her own identity, the complexities of race, and the enduring legacy of the past. With its powerful storytelling and exploration of the connections between past and present, "Kindred" is a profound examination of history, race, and the enduring resilience of the human spirit.

    The 464th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Time and Again by Jack Finney

    Time and Again is a science fiction novel that follows Simon Morley, a young advertising artist living in New York City, who is recruited by a secret government project to travel back in time to the year 1882. The novel explores themes of nostalgia, love, and the complexity of time travel, as Simon falls in love with a woman from the past and must decide whether to stay in the 19th century or return to his own time.

    The 690th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Ubik by Philip K. Dick

    Set in a futuristic world, the novel follows Joe Chip, a technician at a psychic agency, who becomes trapped in a reality-altering phenomenon after a mission on the Moon goes wrong. As his reality begins to unravel, Chip and his colleagues find themselves in a bizarre world where time seems to be moving backward and a mysterious product called "Ubik" appears to be the only thing that can save them. The book explores themes of reality, entropy, and human perception in a surreal and often humorous manner.

    The 740th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    The novel follows a World War II nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. There, she meets a handsome and brave Scottish warrior and is torn between her loyalty to her husband in her own time and her growing love for the warrior. As she becomes more entwined in the past, she must navigate the dangers of a time not her own, including political unrest and violence, while trying to find a way back home.

    The 902nd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

    The novel follows the fantastical journey of a 19th-century American engineer who, after a blow to the head, finds himself transported back in time to the medieval kingdom of King Arthur. Using his modern knowledge and ingenuity, the protagonist attempts to modernize the past society, introducing industrial technology and democratic ideas. His efforts to revolutionize the Arthurian world are met with both humor and a critical examination of the social and political issues of both the past and his contemporary society, ultimately leading to a complex interplay between progress and tradition.

    The 992nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

    This science fiction novel follows the story of a soldier conscripted to fight in an interstellar war against an alien species known as the Taurans. Due to the time dilation effects of space travel at near-light speeds, the soldier experiences only months of combat, while centuries pass on Earth. Each time he returns from a mission, he finds an unrecognizable society with new technologies and altered social norms. The narrative explores the psychological and emotional impact of war, time displacement, and the soldier's struggle to find a sense of belonging in a constantly changing world. As the conflict drags on through the eons, the soldier begins to question the purpose of the war and the high cost of human life in the face of such temporal vastness.

    The 1235th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    The novel tells the story of a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and his wife, an artist who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. Their love story endures many separations and dangerous experiences due to his condition. The story's central theme is the effects of time travel on their marriage and their passionate love for each other.

    The 1275th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

    "The Anubis Gates" is a thrilling time-travel adventure set in 19th-century London. When a wealthy industrialist organizes a trip back in time to witness a famous poet's lecture, the journey takes an unexpected turn. The protagonist, Brendan Doyle, finds himself trapped in the past, caught in a web of magic, Egyptian mythology, and a secret society. As he navigates through dangerous encounters and encounters historical figures, Doyle must unravel the mysteries of time travel and find a way back to his own time before it's too late.

    The 1364th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

    In this science fiction-fantasy novel, the protagonist embarks on a time-traveling quest to prevent a global catastrophe. Guided by a unicorn, the protagonist uses a powerful rune to mentally leap through time and space, inhabiting the lives of different people throughout history who are connected to the present-day threat. As the protagonist influences the actions of these individuals, the narrative weaves a complex tapestry of interconnected events, emphasizing themes of family, love, and the interconnectedness of all things. The story challenges the protagonist to understand the ripple effects of actions across time, ultimately aiming to alter the course of history to save the world from impending doom.

    The 1478th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

    In "Tom's Midnight Garden," a young boy named Tom is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle in their small apartment while his brother recovers from measles. Feeling bored and lonely, Tom discovers a magical garden that only appears at midnight. As he explores the garden, he meets a young girl named Hatty who lived there in the past. Together, they embark on a series of adventures, uncovering the mysteries of time and friendship.

    The 1490th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

    This humorous science fiction novel follows the eccentric detective Dirk Gently, who operates based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. His cases involve time travel, ghosts, and an Electric Monk, a labor-saving device that believes things for you. Dirk's current investigation revolves around the disappearance of a cat, a multimillionaire, and a horse in a bathroom, all seemingly unrelated events, but in Dirk's holistic world, everything is connected.

    The 1514th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

    The novel is a historical romance that blends adventure, love, and time travel. It follows the story of a World War II combat nurse who is mysteriously swept back in time to 18th-century Scotland. There, she encounters clan rivalries, the harsh realities of life in the past, and a gallant Scottish warrior with whom she falls deeply in love. As she becomes entangled in the intrigues and dangers of a world that is not her own, she must navigate her dual existence and decide where her heart truly belongs.

    The 2000th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Replay by Ken Grimwood

    The novel centers around a man who experiences an extraordinary phenomenon: after dying of a heart attack, he awakens as his younger self in college but with all his memories intact. He relives his life with the knowledge of the future, making different choices and experiencing alternate paths, only to die again and restart the cycle. As he continues to "replay" his life, he explores the possibilities of love, wealth, and personal fulfillment, while grappling with the existential questions and the psychological toll of his unique situation. The story delves into themes of destiny, regret, and the human desire to correct past mistakes.

    The 2261st Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

    In this science fiction novel, a young historian undertakes a time-travel journey to the 14th century for academic research, only to find herself stranded amidst the onset of the Black Death. As she navigates the challenges of medieval England, her colleagues in the 21st century grapple with a deadly influenza pandemic, complicating efforts to retrieve her. The narrative weaves between the past and the present, exploring themes of human resilience, the universality of suffering across time, and the ethical implications of time travel, all while the historian and her contemporaries confront mortality, history, and their own personal crises.

    The 2390th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Woman On The Edge Of Time by Marge Piercy

    In "Woman on the Edge of Time" by Marge Piercy, a woman named Connie Ramos finds herself caught between two worlds: her bleak reality in a mental institution and a utopian future. As she navigates the challenges of her present and the promises of the future, Connie must confront societal norms, gender roles, and the power dynamics that shape her existence. With her sanity questioned, she must determine if her visions are a product of her imagination or a glimpse into a better world worth fighting for.

    The 2427th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. 11 22 63 by Stephen King

    "11/22/63" is a science fiction novel by Stephen King that follows the story of Jake Epping, a high school English teacher who discovers a portal that leads to 1958. After being convinced by his friend Al to use the portal to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jake embarks on a journey through time to change the course of history. Along the way, he falls in love with a woman named Sadie and faces various obstacles that threaten to alter the timeline he is trying to change. The book explores themes of love, loss, and the consequences of trying to change the past.

    The 2430th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

    "Night Watch" is a satirical fantasy novel that follows the story of Sam Vimes, a city watch commander who is transported back in time. He must navigate the complexities of the past, assume the identity of his old mentor, and prevent a violent revolution, all while trying to find a way back to his own time. The book is filled with humor, social commentary, and a detailed fantasy world.

    The 2738th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Timescape by Gregory Benford

    "Timescape" by Gregory Benford is a science fiction novel that explores the concept of time travel and its consequences. Set in two different time periods, the story follows a group of scientists who discover a way to send messages back in time in an attempt to prevent an environmental catastrophe. As they struggle to communicate across time, they face numerous challenges and ethical dilemmas, ultimately raising questions about the nature of time and the impact of human actions on the future.

    The 2884th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Red Shift by Alan Garner

    This novel intricately weaves together three separate narratives across different time periods in England—Roman Britain, the Civil War era, and the 20th century—around a single location. Through the lives of three young men and their relationships, the story explores themes of love, violence, and connection to the land. Despite the centuries that separate them, a mystical and ancient stone axe links their stories, serving as a symbol of their shared experiences and struggles. The novel's innovative structure and dense, poetic language create a complex tapestry that challenges the boundaries of time and space, highlighting the enduring nature of human emotions and relationships.

    The 4151st Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Dream Years by Lisa Goldstein

    In "The Dream Years," a novel blending historical fiction with elements of fantasy, a young poet in 1920s Paris discovers a surreal ability to travel through time. As the Roaring Twenties swirl around him, he becomes entangled with a group of avant-garde artists and intellectuals, including historical figures from the Dada and Surrealist movements. The narrative takes a turn when he falls in love with a woman from the politically tumultuous 1960s, leading to a poignant exploration of the intersection between art, love, and the impact of social upheaval across different eras. The novel delves into the complexities of attempting to alter history while questioning the role of destiny and the power of creative expression.

    The 4911th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Out Of Time by Paula Martinac

    "Out of Time" is a thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of lesbian relationships and identity across different eras. The story follows a modern-day historian who discovers a cache of old letters that reveal the intimate bond between two women during the 1920s. As she delves deeper into their correspondence, the historian becomes engrossed in their struggles against societal norms and the parallels to her own life. The narrative weaves between past and present, challenging the characters to confront the enduring obstacles faced by LGBTQ individuals, while also celebrating the resilience and solidarity found within their community.

    The 5106th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.