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5 Books that Belong on Any Time Traveler’s TBR

by  | December 9

Time travel is, at once, a dream, a nightmare, a potential reality, and an overused plot device. With so many stories of people jumping back and forth in time (and sometimes straight out of it), it’s hard not to imagine what you would do if you were ever given the chance to hop around time. Do you go back and fix your past? Do you go forward and discover what the future has in store? Are there any right or wrong answers? In honor of Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (yes, it is a real thing!), here are some timeless reads to get you in the spirit, act as a how-to guide, and maybe help any intrepid searchers find what it is they are really looking for.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

by Amal El-Mohtar

Time travel, love, and war—three things that are particularly tricky. Mix the three together and you get a beautiful epistolary novel that follows two enemies who, through correspondence, become entangled in each other’s lives. This Is How You Lose the Time War follows Red and Blue, two agents on opposite sides of a war, yet drawn to each other. The narrative blends science fiction elements with gorgeous prose that makes you feel like you’re caught in the middle of real correspondence between two women in love, trying their best to survive in a world where the rules, and the timelines, aren’t so clear anymore. A must-read for the romantic who’s ready to give it all up for just one more minute with their soul mate.

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How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

by Charles Yu

Have you ever imagined a future wherein time travel were as easy to access as calling an Uber? Well in Charles Yu’s world, time travel is normal, easy, and also requires time-travel technicians, which is Yu’s job. But when Yu kills a future version of himself stepping out of a time machine, he embarks on a quest to find his father, the inventor of time travel, as a means of finding closure and better understanding himself. Don’t let the title fool you: This book is as much about what it means to be human as it is about surviving time. Filled with deep and funny philosophical insights, meta commentary, and a love of Douglas Adams that every sci-fi fan will pick up on, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe provides the type of engaging, satisfying read any time traveler will cherish in the moments in between then and now.

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11/22/63

11/22/63

by Stephen King

One of the most parroted rules in time travel is not to change any major historical events, as you don’t know how it’ll change the future. It’s advice Jake Epping ignores when he accepts one last wish from his dear friend Al: to go back in time through a portal in Al’s diner and save President John F. Kennedy from assassination. When the portal drops him off in the late 1950s, Jake must assume a new identity, trail assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and find a way to stop one of the most infamous shootings of all time. In addition to contending with stopping a historic turning point, Jake has more to undertake: changing the life of a high school janitor; saving a woman from her abusive husband; and grappling with how time itself fights to remain the same. This time-traveling epic, which questions our place in the universe, presents a fascinating, sympathetic perspective to watch the entire story unfold from. A cautionary tale as well as a story of love and sacrifice, 11/22/63 is a book worth stopping time to sit and read.

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Buying Time

Buying Time

by E.M. Brown

What if, one morning, you awoke in your younger self’s body? It might seem like a dream come true at first, but what if you kept going back in time? That’s what happens in 2017 to dissatisfied screenwriter Ed Richie, who finds himself continuing to go backward in time, unsure of when, or even if, the process will stop. Later in 2030, journalist Ella Shaw starts looking into Richie’s disappearance, as he seems to have vanished, in 2025, without a trace. The narrative intertwines their stories until the mysteries are all revealed…just not how you might expect. Brown is known for writing thoughtful, character-driven fiction, and Buying Time is no exception. On top of intriguing protagonists, tragic backstories and all, we also get a dystopian future so dark and yet so clearly steeped in the reality of today, it’s sure to send shivers down your spine.

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The Future of Another Timeline

The Future of Another Timeline

by Annalee Newitz

Even with the best of intentions, time travel can go horribly wrong. In 2022, a secret time war has broken out between the Daughters of Harriet, a feminist group, and the Comstockers, a group of misogynists, as they each try to go back and change history in small ways to either liberate or subjugate women and non-binary people. Tess, a scientist and time traveler, is on the front lines, working to change things in the 19th century to make a better world for women. And how do we see these changes take shape? In the life of Beth, a teenager in the 1990s who ends up helping to conceal the murder of a friend’s abusive boyfriend. A work grounded in feminism, punk rock, and science-fiction, The Future of Another Timeline is the kind of read that plays with expectations and brings an engaging new perspective to the mechanisms of working through and around time. Definitely for the reader looking for something original, and yet familiar.

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Photo Credit // Aron Visuals on Unsplash

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com