Monday, June 25, 2012

TOTW: There's Always Time for a Good Book

Fantasy is what happens when "What If?" meets world-building, creating incredible people and places full of magic and mystery yet to be discovered until the pages start flipping and we end up reading until the wee hours in the morning. There are themes that grab us and refuse to let go, leaving us bleary-eyed and wondering when the hours flew by. I find one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to turn the world as we know it (or think we know it) on its head is when the author bends or breaks the boundaries of time.

Time is linear, the dash between dates on a tombstone: it starts at the very beginning and continues all the way to the end (or perhaps somewhere after Happily Ever After), but the story takes place on the journey; somewhere or somewhen in-between. The march forward seems like a straight road until, like Harold with his Purple Crayon, we veer off the path in order to discover adventure. To bend time or travel through time changes the landscape; from the classics like A Wrinkle in Time, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything to modern twists like Myra McEntire's Hourglass & Timepiece and Hermione's Time-Turner in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the wrap-around is a fun way to wrap our brain around a new set of old circumstances and see things differently the second time around.

My childhood favorite, Tuck Everlasting, hit the Pause button on time and allowed me to ask my first questions about immortality and what it was like to exist outside of mortal time; questions reflected back in tales like Lois Duncan's Locked In Time, L. M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, and the return of the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Sometimes time-travel is a quest to preserve history or to right a wrong as in Diana Wynne Jones' A Tale of Time City or to understand it as in Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, or to want more of that precious commodity like in Kate Thompson's The New Policeman; longing to live longer is part of what time is all about: we want to keep going, we don't want our story to end. (And if that's not enough, there are some who sneak in extra hours such as in Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden and Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series. Haven't we all wondered what we'd do with more time?)

There are lots of wonderful stories that play with the fantasy of having more time, endless time, time stops, and to travel through time. This long, lazy summer, take some time to kick back with a cold butterbeer, check your gold pocketwatch, and catch a tesseract to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. You can pick up a favorite book and read it again, transporting yourself back to the first time you met your heroes and find that they're still there, waiting for you as if time stood still.

What favorite time-themed book would YOU suggest for a great summer read? Take some time to add a comment to the thread!


  1. TUCK EVERLASTING knocked me for a loop, too. I still get shivers (the good kind) every time I read the opening. And I'm going to chime in with a "Me, three!" for WHEN YOU REACH ME. Such a wonderful book.

  2. How about A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones?

  3. I'll have to go with storyqueen's answer. Those are both my favorites too

  4. Hermione's time turner blew my mind! Loved that part.

    And I loved WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead.



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