Favourite Time Travelling Novels – Part 1

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Loreen had posted a number of time travelling novels – which was when I recalled that I’m really fond of this genre and wanted to share my own selection with you…

Doomsday Book – Book 1 of the Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as doomsdayreceiving 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. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin–barely of age herself–finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours.

This is one of my outstanding reads, ever. I love this book – it is such an intelligent, layered read, with splashes of dry humour amongst the fear and terror. See my review here.

 

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
thetimetravelerswifeClare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control.

This remarkable book is not just about Henry – it’s main protagonist is Clare, who is scooped up in the middle of this adventure before she is old enough to make a choice. An issue that she eventually resents… I love Niffenegger’s leap of imagination to consider how it must be to live alongside someone with this ability. The film doesn’t come close in doing justice to the book, by the way.

 

 

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
“I’ve had a most amazing time….”thetimemachine
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…and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth. There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well. Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century. Thanks to Wells’s expert storytelling and provocative insight, The Time Machine will continue to enthral readers for generations to come.

I read this first when I was a teenager and I reread in my 20s, still impressed with Wells’ prescience. If you haven’t encountered this one, I highly recommend it.

 

 

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
tomsmidnightgardenLying awake at night, Tom hears the old grandfather clock downstairs strike . . . eleven . . . twelve . . . thirteen . . . Thirteen! When Tom gets up to investigate, he discovers a magical garden. A garden that everyone told him doesn’t exist. A garden that only he can enter . . .

Like many children’s classics, this haunting, bittersweet book is worth reading no matter how old you are. I have often thought it’s because both protagonists are children is the main reason why it has ended up in that genre. Tom, the visitor from the future, and Hannah, the imperious Victorian girl who always seems to be playing alone in the garden, no matter the weather have lodged in my mind ever since I encountered this book when I read it to a class a long time ago.

 

 

Lightning by Dean Koonz
In the midst of a raging blizzard, lightning struck on the night Laura Shane was born. And a mysterious lightningblond-haired stranger showed up just in time to save her from dying. Years later, in the wake of another storm, Laura will be saved again. For someone is watching over her. But just as lightning illuminates, darkness always follows close behind.

I haven’t read all that much Koonz, but I really enjoyed this time-travelling thriller, where it is the shadowy character who keeps appearing to keep Laura safe who is the most intriguing person – see my review here.

 

 

In the Garden of Iden – Book 1 of The Company novels by Kage Baker
inthegardenofidenThis is the first novel in what has become one of the most popular series in contemporary SF, now back in print from Tor. In the 24th century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life (for profit of course). It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza the botanist. She is sent to Elizabethan England to collect samples from the garden of Sir Walter Iden. But while there, she meets Nicholas Harpole, with whom she falls in love. And that love sounds great bells of change that will echo down the centuries, and through the succeeding novels of The Company

This remarkable series is part of brilliant premise that is played out over seven novels and the first five are stunningly good – the dreadfully named Mendoza in Hollywood is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you enjoy time-travelling books then get hold of this series – while the final two do get a bit silly, it’s worth it for Mendoza’s fantastic story up to that point.

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26 responses »

  1. I haven’t thought about Lightening in years! I used to be a huge Dean Koontz fan but haven’t read him at all since I started blogging. Great list, I’ve read at least half of these:-)

  2. What a lovely review of one of my favorite genres. I sat here with pencil and paper in hand, fattening up my folder (old fashioned manilla one, Ha!) of books to get/read/ or at least look into.

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful:). It is one of my favourite genres and it’s always great to get recommendations – are there any books you think I would enjoy?

  3. I had to double-check my Goodreads shelf to refresh my “reading” memory… and I’ve only read one time travel book: Heidi Heilig’s The Girl From Everywhere, which came out earlier this year. Hmmmm… I know I’ve watched a lot of TV shows and films that deal with time travel, and I’ve heard of several books that feature it, including The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Time Machine. I’ve just never read them, I guess…

  4. I don’t read too many time travel books so I’ve only read The Doomsday Book. I’ve run into time travel romances and don’t usually like those since the time travel is often not handled believably. But I’m going to take a look at these science fiction/fantasy books. They sound good.

    • Hm. I know just what type of time travel books you mean, where it is a gismo whereby true lurve can flourish… But The Company books – especially the first 5 – and The Time Traveler’s Wife are very cleverly put together and memorably good.

    • It’s very clever isn’t it? Have you any recommendations, Wendy? I’m always on the lookout for really good time-travelling books, though preferably without too much romance – I’ve read far too many along the ‘Outlander’ theme, which doesn’t do it for me…

  5. Now’s probably not the right time to share that I dislike time travel? Although to be honest I will still pick up a book if it has time travel, but only if it sounds really good. Time travel always bugs me, because I just can’t wrap my head around it and it never makes sense. I prefer time travel with as little focus on the time travel and how it works. I read a time travel romance a year or two ago I think which was pretty good.

    I have heard of The Time Traveler’s Wife from this list, the other ones are new ones to me. I am glad you enjoyed them and for sharing why you enjoyed them.

    • It can be written very lazily – I’d like to think the books I’ve recommended have some rigour. The Time Traveler’s Wife had it as a new genetic variant which worked really well – poor old Henry had no control at all as to when it happened and where he’d end up along his timeline…

      • Yes:). The best books in this sub-genre are some of my all-time favourites – but I’ve also read some very shoddily constructed efforts, where it’s merely a vehicle for a jaunt to pick up a member of the opposite sex in old fashioned clothing…

  6. I’m so glad you found inspiration in my list!
    I agree with you completely about time travel novels they can be really well written or they can be garbage. I like to think my favorites are all good. I don’t remember if I listed the Time Traveler’s wife on my list. I read it years ago in a hurry. And I don’t think it was the right time for me to read it. I think I’m going to give it another try this winter and see if my opinion of it changes.

  7. I’m not generally a fan of time travel books, but The Time Traveler’s Wife handles time travel in pretty much the only way I think it could be handled and actually make sense to me. The way everything kind of exists all at once so that everything he’s going to do in the future when he travels has already happened in the past where he traveled to and all that… that’s the only way it works for me. A part of me wants to read that book again since it’s been a while, but I’m kind of too terrified because that book affected me SO MUCH that I had nightmares and restless sleep during the few days it took me to read it!

    • Oh my goodness – really? Although… thinking back, I know that I was also affected by it. I felt terribly sorry for poor Claire, who didn’t seem to have any choice in the matter – and whose life was completely changed by Henry crashing into it.

  8. Thank you for the list: I’m not a time-travel fan, but several titles above sparked my interest. Sadly, I never got around to reading Wells when I was young. I guess I should try to catch up on all the classics at some point.

    • I’m not sure they would have been available in Poland. I read a lot of 19th century authors as a youngster, given my gran was very comfortable with those titles and brought home a steady stream of them from the library. I’m really glad now:). But I’ve never been able to pass on my enthusiasm to any of my children – the language and pacing is too alien to them.

      • I think some were and are available in Poland, especially the names like Wells or Verne. (I loved his “In Search of Castaways)

      • I don’t know that one – I’ll have to look it up! I just have… and I thought I’d read most of his books. I must add this one to my TBR pile. Thank you for that.

      • If I recall correctly, it’s about children trying to find their missing father, Captain Grant. I think it was made into a movie too. Good luck with your search!

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