Did you know that December 8th is ‘Pretend To Be A Time Traveller Day’? No? Then you’ll need to learn how to time travel so that you can go back in time and ensure you tell yourself this very important fact! Time travel is a fascinating subject and has inspired many writers to pose some big questions. What time period would you visit if you could time travel anywhere? Which big historical event would you have liked to witness? If you could go back and change something in your life, would you?
There are many time travel stories in both film and books so for today’s blog, I’m going to suggest a few to try if you’d like to get into the world of time travelling.
Perhaps the most famous time traveller in popular culture is, of course, Doctor Who and if you search on both our library catalogue and on BorrowBox, you’ll find lots of books, eBooks and eAudio stories featuring various incarnations of everyone’s favourite Time Lord. Whether it’s battling the Daleks or the Cybermen, trying not to blink when facing the Weeping Angels or facing The Master himself, you’ll find lots of different Doctor Who books in our collection. You can explore alien worlds, meet the monsters that the popular series has introduced us to, look into the science behind the show or revisit your favourite Doctor with a look back over the 50+ year history of the show.
One of our favourites is ‘One Doctor, Two Hearts’ by Adam Howling (okay, technically it’s not a time travel story but look at the illustrations and the Tardis is right there on the front cover!)
Books for Children
‘Little Badman and The Time Travelling Teacher of Doom’ by Humza Arshad and Henry White
We love this title and this book! It tells the story of Humza Khan, the greatest eleven-year-old rapper Eggington ever had. Humza has faced deadly alien slugs, killer aunties and double maths but he’s now facing something even scarier – his dad! He’s fed up of Humza not listening so is sending him away to school. But this is not ordinary school. This is a special summer school in Pakistan, and something weird is going on – someone has been messing with time! Can Humza save the world again and put time back where it should be?
‘The Time Travelling Cat’ series by Julia Jarman
If ever there was a pet that would make a good time traveller, it’s a cat! In this series of books, Julia Jarman takes us on some time travelling escapades to various time periods, all seen through the eyes of Ka and her owner, Topher. Join Ka and Topher as they journey to Ancient Egypt, meet the Ancient Romans and explore the Tudor period. You’ll also find adventures in the Viking period and what happens when Ka and Topher meet the Aztecs and narrowly avoid becoming a human/feline sacrifice!
‘The Portal’ by Kathryn Lasky
Another series that visits the Tudor period but with a very different lead character. The ‘Tangled in Time’ series follows the adventures of Rose who, after the death of her mother, is sent to live with her grandmother – a strange woman with a greenhouse that houses more than just tomatoes. After seeing a strange glow emitting from the greenhouse one night, Rose investigates and finds herself thrown back into the Tudor world of Henry VIII and his court.
‘Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle
You may be aware of this title either from its reputation as a children’s classic or from the recent film adaptation that was released. However you discovered this novel, once you’ve read it, it becomes very difficult to forget Charles, his sister Meg and their friend Calvin. When Charles and Meg’s father goes missing, they embark on a voyage through different realms of the universe, meeting quirky characters such as Mrs Whatsit along the way. The trio eventually find themselves on an evil planet, where all life is ruled by a huge, pulsating brain known as IT. Will they be able to escape? Will they find Charles and Meg’s father?
‘Charlie Bone and the Time Twister’ by Jenny Nimmo
The Time Twister is a beautiful marble full of shining colours that draws those who hold it into the future. In this instalment of the adventures of Charlie Bone, Charlie meets time travellers, has to negotiate magical portraits and the worlds painted in them that draw him in and must fight to retrieve the wand of a Welsh wizard. All in a day’s work for Charlie Bone!
‘Time Travelling With A Hamster’ by Ross Welford
We’ve had time travelling cats and now it’s the turn of hamsters and quite frankly, I would rather time travel with a hamster than a cat! At least they would fit in your pocket! Ross Welford’s novel is available in eBook, on eAudio and from our libraries. It tells the race-against-time story of a boy who travels back to 1984 to prevent a go-kart accident, and save his father’s life. On his 12th birthday, Al is given a secret mission – his grandfather has a secret time machine and Al must use it to save his father’s life. Along the way, if he has to set his school on fire, lie and maybe steal, that’s just what needs to be done to save his father and keep himself and his pet hamster, Alan Shearer, safe.
Books for Grown-Ups
‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson
What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to? ‘Life After Life’ follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past.
‘Kindred’ by Octavia Butler
This novel was a time travelling tale that I really enjoyed and would recommend to anyone! On her 26th birthday, Dana and her husband are moving into their apartment when she starts to feel dizzy. She falls to her knees, nauseous. Then the world falls away. She finds herself at the edge of a green wood by a vast river. A child is screaming. Wading into the water, she pulls him to safety, only to find herself face to face with a very old looking rifle, in the hands of the boy’s father. She’s terrified. The next thing she knows she’s back in her apartment, soaking wet. It’s the most terrifying experience of her life – until it happens again. This book, first published in 1979, tackles some big issues such as racism and slavery as well as posing some big questions about destiny and if you could change events, would you and should you?
The ‘Outlander’ series by Diana Gabaldon
What if your future was the past? It’s 1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to learn how war has changed them and to re-establish their loving marriage. But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer – her husband’s six-times great-grandfather. Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, Claire’s only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives. Another hugely successful book series that went on to inspire a time travelling TV series!
‘How To Stop Time’ by Matt Haig
This is perhaps a cheat to include as it’s not about time travelling as such – its main character instead ages very slowly so has lived a long time and seen many things. Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but he was born in 1581. Owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Shakespeare’s England to jazz age Paris and voyaging the Pacific, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom now has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London school. This is a very evocative novel as different time periods are bought to life on the page and Tom faces many challenges. You’ll find it as an eBook, on eAudio and on our library shelves.
‘The First Time Lauren Pailing Died’ by Alyson Rudd
This is one that intrigues me but I haven’t read it yet. Billed as a ‘Sliding Doors’/time slip novel, its blurb reads: “Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties, and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies. Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too. But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him. And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found.”
‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells
We couldn’t do a whole post about time travel books without mentioning this one. First published in 1895, it is speculative fiction at its best. H G Wells’ ‘Time Traveller’ is a Victorian gent who has invented a time machine that will carry him through time. Travelling way into the future, the Time Traveller meets the Eloi, loses his machine, finds his machine and goes even further into a desolate future before finally returning to his own time.
‘Time Travel: A History’ by James Gleick
James Gleick’s story begins at the turn of the 20th century with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting ‘The Time Machine’. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological – the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilisations and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture – from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.
‘London: A Travel Guide Through Time’ by M R Green
Another that is only loosely tied into this post but a good book nonetheless! Dr Matthew Green explores the sights and sounds of London through history, taking you back to years gone by and looking at what life was like for the residents of our capital city. This is a fascinating guide that takes the reader off the beaten track and into unexplored territory.
‘Time Warped’ by Claudia Hammond
Nothing to do with time travel but an interesting subject so I have thrown this one in to today’s post. We are obsessed with time. However hard we might try, it is almost impossible to spend even one day without the marker of a clock. But how much do we understand about time, and is it possible to retrain our brains and improve our relationship with it? The title may also cause a certain song to take up residence in your head – ‘It’s just a jump to the left……’
‘A Brief History of Time’ by Professor Stephen Hawking
Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and string theory. Not to be confused with ‘A Brief History of Time Lords’ by Steve Tribe.
‘The Time Travel Handbook’ by James Wyllie
Have you ever wondered what you might need to wear if you were setting off back in time to be at the execution of Charles I? Or what might have been the best vantage point to watch the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and still survive? Or how you might get your point across at the trial of Greek philosopher Socrates and not cause offence or worse? This book gives you the answers and more.
’24 Hours in Ancient China’ by Yijie Zhuang
Travel 2000 years back in time to spend 24 hours with the people of ancient China, and see the Han period through the eyes of those who lived there.
I hope you’ve found something in today’s post to tempt you to try. Whether you’re escaping into the pages of a book away from the cold evenings, distracting yourself with a tale of ‘what-if?’ or just looking for a good read, there are plenty of titles out there to entertain and amaze. Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite time travelling novel I haven’t featured (there are many!) and if you’ve read any of the above and found they aren’t worth it, can you go back in time and tell me not to recommend it here!? Thanks!