Time After Time
Nora Lansing is a child of the 1920s, complete with flapper clothing, and her style and personality don’t fit in much in the muted tones of the Great Depression. It’s probably why Joe Reynolds is immediately so captivated by Nora. They meet at the Grand Central Terminal, at the famous gold clock, but unfortunately, that’s the only place they’ll ever see each other—due to some strange rules of time travel, she only exists within Grand Central. Yet somehow, Joe and Nora are determined to make their love story work.
When Eleanor’s twin dies tragically, it affects her and her family in ways she can’t imagine. There’s the grief that’s expected, but there’s also something else entirely—her very reality is affected, as she begins moving through time. This thoughtful, gorgeously written novel is a profound meditation on loss as Eleanor tries to figure out how her new time traveling abilities will affect her family.
Octavia E. Butler
The year is 1976. Dana has just gotten married and is ready to settle down. But in an instant, everything she knows is taken from her as she, a Black woman, is transported to a slave plantation in the 1800s that was apparently owned by one of her ancestors. As Dana continues to move back and forth through time, she becomes worried she might become stuck in a past that isn’t hers and must figure out how to survive in a seemingly foreign world.
All Our Wrong Todays
Tom lives in an idyllic present where technology is the solution to all of our problems. But when he uses a time machine to change the past and find the lost love of his life, he messes with the timeline more than he realizes and ends up in an alternate reality that is our 2016. Tom must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice and whether a life with the woman he loves in a messy imperfect world is better than what he left.
Shadow of Night
A Discovery of Witches is immensely popular right now, given the hit television adaptation, so it’s the perfect time to dive into the All Souls Trilogy. The second novel in the trilogy, Shadow of Night sees the two main characters, Matthew and Diana, traveling through time into the past to find some answers to the many mysteries surrounding them.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
Time travel is fact in Minor Universe 31, and every day, its denizens use machines to try and change the past. Charles Yu is a time travel technician, and by day he helps people with their time travel issues. But after work, he spends his hours searching for his parents, who invented time travel. This meta novel seems like hard science fiction, but at its core it’s the story of a family that’s been torn apart.
The River of No Return
This time-traveling romance features Nick Falcott, who has the ability to travel through time in moments of stress or panic. When he’s about to die on a battlefield, he wakes up 200 years later and is desperate to return to his own time, to Julia the love of his life. But The Guild, which governs the rules of time travel, tells Nick he isn’t allowed to go back. Will these two lovers find a way back to one another?
The Gone World
When a Navy SEAL is suspected of murdering his family, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service sends in Shannon Moss. She’s part of a secret division within the organization that travels through time to solve cases. Moss thinks that the case is probably pretty straightforward, until she realizes that the SEAL in question was an astronaut aboard a spaceship that is missing, presumed lost. Moss realizes that this investigation may have drastic implications for her entire world and the future of humanity.
When people talk about time travel, they often think of hard science fiction—complicated plots set in space and on other worlds. But time travel can be a part of any kind of story, from family dramas to romances and beyond. The time travel books on this list are what we like to call “sci-fi lite”—they all have sci-fi elements, but are human stories at their core.
Whether you want to read a crime novel, gorgeous literary fiction, or tales of star-crossed lovers, there is something on this list for you to read and love.
Featured Image: Matthew Goode and Theresa Palmer in A Discovery of Witches