A Book About Time: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2022
I love the many different ways to interpret this category.
My first thought for the category was: ok, I guess I’ll read a book about time travel. Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is about a café where one seat allows the person to travel in time. Except there are a lot of rules and most people bail once they find out that you can’t change the future and your time is limited. The book is about learning to appreciate your life in the present moment. This book was also recommended by staff members, including Taylor (Librarian), "this book is an interesting take on how different people think of and handle the opportunity to time travel, even if the opportunity is so brief." It is a really charming book and very heart-warming, a great way to kick off another year of reading! It will make you crave a nice cup of coffee, so prepare ahead of time. If you've read it and loved it, good news! The second book in the series, Tales From The Café came out recently!
Another idea I had for a book about time was to read about time management. I don’t know about you, but it is definitely something I need to read about. Plus, it makes for a good start-of-the-new-year read. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink is a great pick if you are looking for a non-fiction choice for this category. He writes about the science of timing and the impact it can have in our daily lives. Each chapter finishes with a workbook of suggestions on how to apply the findings day-to-day.
There are still so many other ways to understand the category.
Here are some recommendations from TPL staff for this category.
The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
I'll say this is a book about time because the migration mentioned in the title is one of the ways people mark the seasons and the passing of years, in a world where seasons and weather have drastically changed. This fascinating little book has been described as "hopepunk" - when the worst has already happened, humanity still bands together to move on and move forward. I did not get what I expected when I read this book, and so I don't want to say too much. It's better to go in without too many details. At 158 pages in regular print, it's not a big commitment! You can also use it for any of these categories:
- A book about family
- A book about a city (if you'd call it a city!)
- A coming-of-age story by a BIPOC author
- A book about solitude (sort of, anyway. Can we be alone together?)
- A book about a season (or, really, more than one season)
- A book about an issue that is important to you
– Ames, Services Specialist
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
When I think of a book about time, I have to recommend Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (or In Search of Lost Time, in recent translations), which famously begins with the author dipping a madeleine (a type of cookie) into his tea that plunges him into waves of memories of his childhood and beyond. The sweep and beauty of the writing, combined with the brilliant insights and portraits of high-society France make it well worth the investment required.
This is one of those monumental works like War and Peace that both challenge and intimidate readers and it is a big commitment, consisting of seven volumes. (I tackled it by reading one volume each year, to make it more manageable.) Volume 1 is delightful on its own (this translation is by Lydia Davis), regardless of whether you carry on or not.
If you’re feeling apprehensive or unsure about it, I would recommend Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life as a funny and moving introduction to the work and why it is worth your time.
– Joel, Librarian
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransome Riggs
I recommend Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It at first appears to be a Groundhog Day scenario but the time-loop mechanics are much more complex. The creepiness of the book, inspired by old photographed curiosities, is so inspired. This book is a "Teen" book but has a wider audience in those who love dark and twisted storylines.
- A book about magic
- A book about families
– Eileen, Branch Head
An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
This 2018 Giller Prize finalist spins a dystopian love story that transcends time and space.
Not giving too much away but the time-travelling piece really made me feel how time flies and how we need to cherish the time we have with our loved ones.
– Elsa, Senior Services Specialist
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
This is a fun 2SLGBTQIA romance-comedy novel that features a love interest who is trapped on the Q train in NYC. We soon discover that this love interest is originally from the 1970s and is unsure how she got stuck in the train. The main character focuses her energy on solving the mystery while also falling in love. It's a fun novel with tons of 2SLGBT+ community-specific references.
– Des'Ree, Public Service Assistant
Billy Pilgrim, a former World War II soldier, is abducted by aliens and put in a zoo on their planet, Tramalfadore. Billy learns that the aliens have their own concept of time, where it isn't linear so all of the past, present, and future exists simultaneously. To these aliens, no one really dies as they continue to exist in the past- but it also means that no one has free will as everything that happens is destined to occur. Billy adopts this fatalist view to cope with his trauma. The author also uses a non-linear story structure to tell of Billy's experience in the war and its effect later on in life through Billy's time travel. It’s a fairly short novel and an easy read packed with interesting ideas.
- A book about mental health
- A book about solitude
– Rathees, Librarian
Time is a Flower by Julie Morstad
This beautifully illustrated picture book explores time from many different perspectives. Time is your hair growing longer, a sunbeam moving across a room, and so much more. A great book to read with little ones, but its inventive art and philosophical approach also make it an intriguing solo read for adults.
– Myrna, Librarian
Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
The novel recounts the life of a German Holocaust doctor, told backward. The story begins with the main character's death, and the reader, along with a relatively naïve narrator, relive the oft-unpleasant details of his life in reverse chronology. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991. I like how it plays with one's perception of time. The narrator matures as the protagonist gets younger.
– Tom, Library Assistant
Recommendations from the Facebook Group
These are just some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group. You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
- How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
- How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
- Kindred by Octavia Butler
- Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
- A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh
- Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
- Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
- This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
What would you recommend for "a book about time”? Add your suggestions in the comments section below. You can also watch a replay of our Reading Challenge Online Discussion when our hosts discussed their favourite books about time and with a colour in the title.