There is a question that’s been bothering me ever since I first read H.G. Wells’ classic The Time Machine. In the book and in the 1960 movie of the same name, the Time Traveler returns to the 19th century for a short time to relay his story to Filby before returning, presumably to the future. After the Time Traveler’s departure, Filby notices that three books are missing from the library, but he doesn’t know which books.

Wells has been dead for decades, so no one can say for sure which books were taken, but it is possible to make an educated guess after taking two factors into account. First, the Morlocks are probably still a threat, which means that war is a distinct possibility. And, The Time Machine was published in 1895, so only books published before that date are eligible. This means that all of the Foxfire books are ineligible, while Baden-Powell’s Reconnaissance and Scouting, published in 1884, is acceptable. So, I’ll select Baden-Powell’s book as my first choice.

My second guess is Robinson Crusoe, which dates from 1719. Although a work of fiction, it goes into quite a bit of detail into the skills necessary to build something of a low-tech civilization. Considering the traits that the Eloi display, low tech is definitely the way to go. But, then, the Eloi can’t really be blamed for their lack of sophistication, after all, they live in a world where becoming Soylent Green is their only career choice.

My final book selection is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, originally written in the 6th century BC and translated into English in 1772. My main reason for this choice is the Morlocks; I for one would not make a happy meal. Therefore, unless there was a pre-1895 For Dummies book on war, this definitive how-to book is the way to go.

What three titles do you think were on The Time Traveler’s book list?