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The 21 best books about time travel, from science fiction classics to time loop romances

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If you love watching characters get transported to the past, pick up one of these time travel books.

Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider

  • Time travel is a popular subgenre amongst science fiction readers.
  • Authors have used time travel to tell incredible stories, from romances to historic events.
  • These are 21 of the best time travel books, from ‘Outlander’ to Octavia Butler’s ‘Kindred.’

Science fiction is a broad and exciting genre with plenty of fun subgenres for readers to explore, such as space operas where readers travel across galaxies or dystopian novels that provide a glimpse at terrifying possible futures. 

One popular science fiction subgenre is time travel, where characters cross time and space using parallel universes, advanced technology, or simply unexplainable magic. Time travel novels let readers imagine the limitless pasts and futures where anything is possible. 

To gather these recommendations, we looked at bestseller lists and popular recommendations from Amazon, Bookshop, and Goodreads. From epic romances to genre-bending classics, here are the best time travel books to take you on a reading adventure through time. 

The best time travel books to read in 2022:

An epic time travel love storyOutlander by Diana Gabaldon


“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.19

In this series that inspired a beloved TV show of the same name, Claire Randall and her husband are enjoying a second honeymoon after she returns from serving as a combat nurse in WWII. Their celebration is cut short, however, when Claire suddenly finds herself thrust back through time to 1743 Scotland. An outlander in this strange time, Claire meets a young warrior named James Fraser, whose love tears her heart between two times.

A modern time travel classicThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger


“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.79

This contemporary time travel novel has quickly become a classic love story between Clare and Henry, who gravitate towards each other despite Henry’s Chrono-Displacement Disorder, which causes him to be misplaced through time. Imaginative and original, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” uses multiple points of view to tell an emotional story of love, friendship, and the effects of time on both.

A romantic time travel readThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone


“This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.15

“This Is How You Lose the Time War” is a new, award-winning novel about rival agents Red and Blue who leave each other secret messages as they travel through time, altering history on behalf of their warring home empires. Though the messages begin as playful taunting, they soon become much more in this Queer, sci-fi romance.

A time travel novel from the king of horror11/22/63 by Stephen King


“11/22/63” by Stephen King, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15

This nearly-1,000 page historical science fiction read is a gripping time travel thriller  — and one of the highest-reviewed Stephen King books. Jake Epping is a high school English teacher who discovers a secret portal to 1958 and is enlisted to go back in time and try to stop the Kennedy assassination, the effects of which can’t be known until Jake either succeeds or fails.

A classic time travel taleKindred by Octavia E. Butler


“Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.39

When Dana, a young, Black writer, is inexplicably thrust backward in time from 1976 to a pre-Civil War Maryland plantation, she’s met with the drowning of a young white boy, whom she tries but fails to save. As she continues to drift between the past and present, Dana is accused of murdering the child, meets her ancestors, and is forced into slavery, all while trying to find her way back to the present.

A journey to the Medieval timesDoomsday Book by Connie Willis


“Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.27

Beginning in near-future London, time travel technology is used by universities to send historians back in time for research purposes. When Kivrin is sent to the past to experience a Medieval village, everything goes immediately wrong and Kivrin is stuck with no way to return home, a mysterious illness, and disaster coming her way in this page-turning novel that won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards in 1993.

An equally devastating and remarkable time travel novelRecursion by Blake Crouch


“Recursion” by Blake Crouch, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99

When a technology emerges that allows humans to return and re-experience their most precious and emotional memories, the effects begin to devastate the world as parallel worlds collide, unraveling society and threatening humanity in its entirety. “Recursion” is one of my all-time favorite novels, an undeniable page-turner that completely engrossed countless readers with Blake Crouch’s masterful writing.

A non-linear time travel classicSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.35

“Slaughterhouse-Five” is an American classic and considered one of the greatest novels of all time. First published in 1969, this science fiction novel follows Billy Pilgrim from childhood through his time as a soldier during World War II,] and beyond as he travels back and forth through time and tells his story with messages about war, post-traumatic stress, life, and love.

A time travel love storyHow to Stop Time by Matt Haig


“How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.30

Tom Hazard has lived through many centuries but is ready to settle down as a high school history teacher and live a normal life. Because of his condition, he must not fall in love, but when the French teacher at school catches his eye, Tom flashes back through his many lives to help him figure out how to live in the present.

A time loop romanceOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston


“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.25

When cynical August moves to New York City, she doesn’t believe in magical love stories, until she meets Jane on the Q train. As August continues to ride the Q train as often as she can to spend time with Jane, the two realize Jane is stuck there on a strange time loop, displaced from the 1970s and in desperate need of August’s help to get her unstuck.

An original time travel novel featuring magical realismOona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore


“Oona Out of Order” by Margarita Montimore, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.99

On New Year’s Eve in 1982, Oona Lockhart is minutes away from turning 19 and has a life of opportunities ahead of her, until the clock strikes midnight and Oona wakes up on her 51st birthday. Destined to travel back and forth through time and live her life out of order, Oona must figure out how to navigate life, love, and everything in between.

A holiday-themed time travel readIn a Holidaze by Christina Lauren


“In a Holidaze” by Christina Lauren, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.59

This holiday read is a rom-com fan-favorite about Maelyn Jones, who is on her way to the airport after a final family vacation at their beloved Utah cabin when she sees a truck hurtling towards their car. Just before the truck can hit them, Mae wakes up on the airplane headed to the cabin, stuck in a cycle of reliving the trip over and over until she can discover what makes her happy.

A devastating middle-grade time travel readThe Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga


“The Shape of Thunder” by Jasmine Warga, available at Amazon, $14.49

Cora and Quinn are next-door neighbors and best friends who haven’t spoken to each other in a year since a tragedy changed both of their lives forever. When Quinn decides the only way to bridge the distance between them is by going back in time to stop that horrible day from ever happening, the two try to unravel the mysteries of time travel in this middle-grade novel about trauma, loss, and healing.

A time travel graphic novel about true eventsDisplacement by Kiku Hughes


“Displacement” by Kiku Hughes, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.55

This incredible graphic novel is about Kiku Hughes, who is on vacation in San Francisco when she’s abruptly transported back in time to witness the internment camp into which her grandmother was forcibly relocated during World War II. Unsure how or if she will be able to return to the present, Kiku learns her grandmother’s true history and begins to see the long-term effects her experiences had on their family and countless other Japanese Americans.

A young adult time loop fantasy novelMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.79

In this best-selling young adult fantasy book, Jacob Magellan Portman is taken to a remote island off the coast of Wales to deal with his trauma after a horrible family tragedy. Though the home is allegedly haunted by the inhabitants who died on September 3, 1940, Jacob discovers peculiar children stuck in a time loop, cared for by the equally peculiar Miss Peregrine.

A classic time travel storyA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.35

On a dark and stormy night, Meg Murry, along with her brother and her friend, set out on a dangerous but extraordinary adventure to rescue her father who mysteriously disappeared. With the help of supernatural friends, the group uses a tesseract to travel through space and time in this 1962 story of love, evil, and purpose.

A young adult novel about time travel and loveOpposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds


“Opposite of Always” by Justin A. Reynolds, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.99

Jack and Kate are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a party and begin to fall in love in the weeks that follow. When Kate tragically dies from a genetic disease, Jack finds himself back at the moment they met, determined to do anything to prevent her death, even if it means hurting others in the process.

A magical time travel mangaTokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui


“Tokyo Revengers” by Ken Wakui, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

Takemichi Hanagaki is stuck in his less-than-thrilling life when he learns his middle school girlfriend, Hinata, has been killed by a villainous gang. When an accident sends him 12 years back in time to middle school, Takemichi is determined to change his life and save Hinata in this time travel manga.

A time travel story of a father and sonHow to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu


“How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” by Charles Yu, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.69

Charles Yu lives in a science fiction reality, working as a time machine repairman and searching for his father, who invented time travel and has since disappeared. In this heartfelt read, Charles must navigate the universe with his companions to find a moment where he and his father can meet in memory.

A feminist time travel novelThe Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz


“The Future of Another Timeline” by Annalee Newitz, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.47

Told through alternating first-person narratives, this time travel story focuses on two main timelines as Beth finds herself in 1992 with a front-row seat to a murder while Tess is determined to use time travel to fight for a change in 2022. As the two stories intertwine across time, war threatens to destroy time travel in this smart, feminist read.

An irresistible time travel readHere and Now and Then by Mike Chen


“Here and Now and Then” by Mike Chen, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49

Kin Stewart may seem like an average man but has a secret: He’s actually a time-traveling secret agent from the year 2142, stuck in the present ever since a mission failed 18 years ago. When his rescue team finally arrives, Kin is torn between his two families, trying to keep them both, until a risk to his daughter’s existence stretches Kin’s love across time to save her.

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