Today is the pub date of Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which is a great novel for fans of time-travel, love stories and books that give you the creepy crawlies.
Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up watching my aunts, grandmother and mom cry over the film version of Somewhere in Time, but I have long had a soft spot for time-travel stories. If you finish 11/22/63 hungry for more, check out one of these classics.
1. Time and Again by Jack Finney (1970). In Finney’s world, all you need to go back in time is the power of the mind. Just lock yourself in a period-perfect 1882 apartment (reading nothing but the news and books of the day, wearing the clothes, eating the food), and you’ll eventually open the door and find yourself in 1882. Talk about an imagination-capturing idea. The swoon-worthy love story is just a bonus. Will someone make a movie of this book already? (Trivia tidbit: King is a fan of this one too, and would have dedicated 11/22/63 to Finney if a baby granddaughter hadn’t arrived on the scene…)
2. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1889). One of my favorite things about time-travel books is the potential for fish-out-of-water humor, and this classic has it in spades. It’s the most hilarious look at medieval times until Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
3. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (1988). Modern-day teenager Hannah is bored by her Jewish heritage and all the sad stories and ceremonies that mean so much to her parents. That is, until she opens the door during a Seder dinner and finds herself in 1942 Poland, just before the town is rounded up by the Nazis. This heartbreaking story has a lot to say about compassion, respect for history and growing up.
4. Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle (1986). Yes, A Wrinkle in Time is terrific! But there’s something about seeing secondary characters Sandy and Dennys finally get their own story that’s appealing. The fact that it’s a twist on the Noah’s Ark story doesn’t hurt either; L’Engle is at her best when she’s working with biblical themes. Also: angels! unicorns! hot blond twins in tattered outfits on the cover! I’m pretty sure all those things are major reasons I read this to pieces in my tweenage years.
5. Forever by Pete Hamill (2003). OK, so it’s not a time-travel novel per se, but it feels like one. Hamill’s hero comes to New York from Ireland in 1741, and is cursed/blessed with eternal life by an African priestess—as long as he never leaves Manhattan. He’s New England’s Forrest Gump, with angst. A brilliant evocation of Manhattan’s storied history and a sympathetic tale of a man who must watch everyone he loves die, this is Hamill at his best.
Yep, you’ve read this post right—there’s no mention of The Time-Traveler’s Wife! But hey, it’s not in my top 5. Maybe it’s in yours? If not, what’s your favorite time-travel book?