Books That Play With Time - Booklist

Books That Play With Time

This weekend sees the clocks go forward an hour, here in the UK, to mark British Summer Time (Sunday 27th March 2022). Yay, spring’s here and summer is on it’s way. At last right! I’m soooo over winter. 🙂 This month’s clock change got me thinking about books that play with time. I’m sure you can think of a few but just for fun I thought I’d delve into the book world archives (ok Google search:-)) and see how many I could come up with.

Below is a booklist of some of the books that play with time that I could find. From classics to fantasy and more recent fiction novels. If you’re looking for reading inspiration how about one of these time, mind bending books.


Did I miss a book that plays with time? If you have a favourite book that plays with time that’s not on my list then share the details in the comments below and I’ll add it to my booklist.


Books That Play With Time

Sea of Tranquility – Emily St. John Mandel

The award-winning author of Station Eleven returns with a story of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.

In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling novel lies a strange passage. When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. 

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future.

In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

All our wrong today’s – Elan Mastai

A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice

This is a love story that could only happen because of an accident of time travel.

Tom and Penny belong to a world so perfect there’s no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocados. But when something awful happens to Penny, and Tom tries to make it right, he accidentally destroys everything, waking up in our broken, dysfunctional world.

Only here, Penny and Tom have a second chance.

Should Tom go back to his brilliant but loveless existence, or risk everything by staying in our messy, complicated world for his one and only chance at true love?

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?

Life After Life – 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?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V E Schwab

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Outlander Series – Diana Gabaldon

Book 1 in the 6 part series.

1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. 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, her 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.

11.22.63 – Stephen King

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot – unless . . .

How To Stop Time – Matt Haig

HOW MANY LIFETIMES DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE?

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love . . .


Fantasy

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

One of my particular favourite series

Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend.

There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave’s MR Big.

Acheron Hades has been kidnapping certain characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.

The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams

One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. It’s the final straw for Arthur Dent, who has already had his house bulldozed that morning. But for Arthur, that is only the beginning . . .

The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land.

Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard… Book 1 in the Wizards Series.


Classic Books

The Time Machine – H G Wells

Chilling, prophetic and hugely influential, The Time Machine sees a Victorian scientist propel himself into the year 802,701 AD, where he is delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty and contentment in the form of the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man.

H. G. Wells defined much of modern science fiction with this 1895 tale of time travel, which questions humanity, society, and our place on Earth.

The curious case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott

Full grown with a long, smoke-coloured beard, requiring the services of a cane and fonder of cigars than warm milk, Benjamin Button is a very curious baby indeed. And, as Benjamin becomes increasingly youthful with the passing years, his family wonders why he persists in the embarrassing folly of living in reverse. 

This version includes six other short stories by F. Scott


I hope you’ve enjoyed this booklist of Books That Play With Time. Visit my themed booklists section for more book inspiration and gift ideas.

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