It’s July, which means that summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Summer is a time when most people start to feel at least a bit of wanderlust. Road trips, vacations, summer break – it’s all about getting away, relaxing, and living your best life.
Today, we’re focusing on road trips.
Road trips have always been a part of the American landscape. There are countless books, television shows, and movies about jumping into a car with your friends and driving to the other end of the country.
Taking a road trip has always been on my bucket list, although it hasn’t happened yet. For myself, as well as many others, taking a road trip can be cost-prohibitive. Most of us would also need an insane amount of vacation time to take so the time needed off from our jobs.
Thankfully, when you can’t take a road trip yourself, we can live precariously through the following novels.
I felt like starting this list off with my two favorites. I’m a huge fan of Jack Kerouac’s writing and have always been intrigued with the Beat Generation. I first read these books back around 2011-ish and fell in absolute love with both novels.
On the Road is the novel Kerouac is most well-known for, and it can be argued that it is the quintessential American road trip novel. The novel is a fictionalized account of his own travels across America.
The Dharma Bums is about two men who search for Zen while traveling from San Francisco to the mountains of Washington state.
I want to read this book so bad. I love two of Steinbeck’s other novels dearly (Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath). Travels with Charley is a non-fiction account of John Steinbeck’s own road trip with his poodle, Charley.
If you’re a fan of life in the 1920s, this book is for you. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda took a road trip from Connecticut to Alabama, and this is his account of that trip.
Aside from the exquisite cover, this book should definitely be on your TBR. It follows the story of Mim Malone who takes off on a Greyhound bus after her family collapses. On the way, Mim meets a cast of interesting characters while also dealing with her own struggles.
In the 1960s, writer Tom Wolfe joined Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters for a cross-country road trip in their bus. LSD, adventure, colorful characters, and more, make this one of the most influential road trip books in American history.
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
This is one of the books that I’m most intrigued by on this list. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to drive around on back roads and discover new places and scenes. When I was in college, a friend and I would drive around for hours and found so many amazing places (and a few terrifying ones too!). In this memoir, William Least Heat-Moon writes about his journey on those backroads, going to small towns that most people pass over.
While most people think of the film adaptation when they hear this title, the novel is definitely worth your time. A road trip to Las Vegas fueled by copious drug use, this book details a different side of the American road trip.
This contemporary young adult road trip novel is one that will pull on your heartstrings. Amy and her mother are moving across the country, and Amy has to drive their car. However, she’s reluctant and terrified, as her father died in a car crash. Amy enlists the help of a family friend named Roger, and they take this journey together.
Let’s end the list on a slightly absurd note. I recently purchased this book after becoming obsessed with the premise. A 16-year-old boy is told that he is going to die, and he sets off on a cross-country road trip with a death-obsessed dwarf and a garden gnome to try to find a cure.
What are your favorite road trip books? Let me know in the comments!
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