Five books

9 clock-stopping books to travel in time with

From classics to kids books, here are our favourite tales of time travel, where heroes get a chance to right past wrongs, find lost loves, and even change the course of history...

All Our Wrong Todays

Elan Mastai

This book looks at time travel from a fresh angle - what if one tiny mistake could cause huge ripples and change the world as we know it? Our hero, Tom, makes a rash decision that changes the future and lands him in our version of 2016, where he's shocked to see how badly things turned out. But soon he starts to wonder if his own life could be better in this alternate reality. Should he right the wrongs he created, or build a new life for himself in this new, less-than-perfect world? A gripping story with an ethical twist, this novel comes recommended by The Martian author Andy Weir.

Outlander

Diana Gabaldon

This epic historical fantasy series has picked up even more fans in recent years after being adapted into a suitably breathtaking TV series featuring a lot of beautiful Scottish landscapes (and actors). It follows the time-travelling adventures of Claire Randall, a nurse from 1946 who is transported back to the Highlands in 1743, where she’s thrown into a world of clans and war, and meets a rather passionate Scotsman named Jamie Fraser. 

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife is adored the world over - and for good reason. A dark and dreamy exploration of time travel, it follows time-crossed lovers Henry and Clare. Henry was born with a disorder that causes his genetic clock to reset at random, pulling him backwards and forwards within his own timeline in a way that gives him no control over where he goes, or how long he stays. If you like the sound of a beautiful, complicated love story that moves between the sweepingly romantic and the dark and harrowing, then this is the book for you. 

 

Slaughterhouse 5

Kurt Vonnegut

Whether the hero of this novel literally time travels is something that readers have debated since the book was first published in 1969. Inspired by Vonnegut's own experiences, it follows Billy Pilgrim, who has become "unstuck in time", and is fated to relive the events of the Dresden firebombing during the Second World War. In this blackly funny story of innocence and violence, time is subjective - and anything but linear. 

 

A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L’Engle

Soon to be a high profile film starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, this iconic children’s book has picked up all sorts of prizes, as well as legions of devoted fans. It’s the story of thirteen-year-old Meg Murry, whose journey to find her missing scientist father transports her and her friends through space and time via a tesseract - the very thing her father was researching when he disappeared. Full of adventure, magic and heart, this classic tackles big questions about the nature of good and evil, science and religion.

 

The Time Machine

H.G. Wells

One of the most famous time travel books ever written, this 1895 novel has had a huge impact on the way time travel is seen and explored in art. The book follows a Victorian scientist, known only as the Time Traveller to the reader, who manages to fling himself into the year 802701 AD. Although this future world initially seems peaceful, he soon realises that there is something far more sinister going on. And when his time machine disappears, he is forced to intervene. 

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

The whole Hitchiker's series plays with ideas of space and time, but the second book in the series - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - is the one where Adams really goes to town on time travel. After making a simple request to be taken to the nearest restaurant, our heroes Arthur, Trillian and Ford find themselves transported to the nearest in space, but not in time. In fact, they've ended up at the legendary eatery five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years into the future...

 

Doctor Who: The Lost Planet

George Mann

Just in time for the new TV series, the latest Doctor Who audio book, read by Nicola Bryant, follows the twelfth Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi on the small screen) as he battles a sinister alien plant life that has taken root in the TARDIS. As he gets closer to its heart, he discovers a secret door leading to a world where long-forgotten rivalries are reawakened...

 

Life After Life

Kate Atkinson

This beautiful, melancholy but ultimately hopeful story of roads not taken revolves around two questions: what would you do if you had the chance to live your life again and again and do it right? And what would “right” look like? Ursula Todd gets the chance to find out after she is born in 1910 again and again. Inventive, witty and lovely, it's no surpise that this book won the 2013 Costa Book Prize. If you love it, check out Atkinson’s companion novel, A God in Ruins, which explores the story of one of Ursula’s siblings. 

 

Related features