Gail Gibbs Actually, there are two books you don't have to read. The phrase "To say nothing of the dog" is a reference to Jerome K. Jerome's delightful travelog, Three Men in a Boat, written in 1880's, and full of wry observations about his own Victorian society. Connie Willis also wrote Doomsday Book, with a similar theme and some of the same characters. Both are excellent, but To Say Nothing of the Dog stands alone nicely.
Robert Tell Well, as I've posted before, Connie Willis is one of my all time favorite authors, and I loved "To Say Nothing Of The Dog." Having said that, the various posts about Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men In A Boat" intrigued me. So, at last, I'm reading it and I have two things to say. One, It's may be unnecessary to read Jerome's book to enjoy Willis's, but why not read it anyway? It is absolutely delightful. I recommend "Three Men In A Boat" either as a companion to "To Say Nothing Of The Dog," or as a stand alone read. Enjoy!
Julio The short answer is no as the stories are mostly independent. However, it would help having a sense of the universe created in the first book. It may make the second one a little easier to grasp at once.
Lisette I didn't realise there was a first book, until I finished this book and came to the page and saw your question. The universe created was a tad confusing at first, maybe that would't be confusing if you'd read the first book first. But it didn't bother me. I strangely liked being thrown in the middle of a universe without too much explaining, it quite worked seeing that you start off with a character that is confused himself due to illness.
Jeanne Mixon Maybe my problem is that I didn't really like this book very much, but I might have liked it better if I had understood the universe she created better. So I can't say that you have to read the first books, but it might have made the universe of this book less confusing/annoying for me.
Mallee Stanley Don't think it would make any difference. This tale stands alone unlike Blackout and All Clear which need to be read in order.
Tess I didn't even know there was a first book, and I enjoyed this book a lot. I'm going to look for the first one now.
Janelle M Hartman All of the Oxford Time Travel series can stand as independent novels except Blackout/All Clear, which is part 1 and part 2 of the same story. There are sometimes very brief references to characters from other books, but these are just "nods" and not important to the plot.