They both take you on incredible adventures, have unexpected twists and hopefully leave you wanting more!
It’s that time of summer where everyone’s cleared out of the DC area. Swim team’s over. School begins in a few weeks. Everyone is squeezing in their family vacations. We’re hitting the road ourselves for a NY beach trip and “glamping” with family. So, to get in the mood, I’ve put together a fun Road Trip Themed Book List. Enjoy!
In the Face of the Sun by Denny S. Bryce
This is an inspiring dual narrative, journey themed tale. Bryce weaves together two powerful stories as they unfold decades apart. See full description below.
1928, Los Angeles: The newly-built Hotel Somerville is the hotspot for the city’s glittering African-American elite. It embodies prosperity and dreams of equality for all—especially Daisy Washington. An up-and-coming journalist, Daisy anonymously chronicles fierce activism and behind-the-scenes Hollywood scandals in order to save her family from poverty. But power in the City of Angels is also fueled by racism, greed, and betrayal. And even the most determined young woman can play too many secrets too far . . .
1968, Chicago: For Frankie Saunders, fleeing across America is her only escape from an abusive husband. But her rescuer is her reckless, profane Aunt Daisy, still reeling from her own shattered past. Frankie doesn’t want to know what her aunt is up to so long as Daisy can get her to LA—and safety. But Frankie finds there’s no hiding from long-held secrets—or her own surprising strength.
Daisy will do whatever it takes to settle old scores and resolve the past—no matter the damage. And Frankie will come up against hard choices in the face of unexpected passion. Both must come to grips with what they need, what they’ve left behind—and all that lies ahead . .
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
What road trip book list would be complete without including Jack Kerouac’s classic? On the Road has become a symbol of America’s beetnik culture and was one of the first adventure books about road trips and searching for meaning on the open road. If you haven’t yet read it, it’s definitely worth checking out! See full description below.
The classic novel of freedom and the search for authenticity that defined a generation.
On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than fifty years ago.
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck, his dog and the open roads of America in the 1960s. This is another road trip classic that has inspired generations. This is an intimate look at Steinbeck himself as he takes off to explore America. What follows is a 10,000 mile trip where he shares his experiences and the good and bad he finds along the way. If you haven’t yet read it, it’s another one that’s definitely worth checking out! See full description below.
An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers. To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.
With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.
Don’t Make Me Pull Over by Richard Ratay
A book for parents everywhere! What parent has not uttered these words at some point? This is a fun and unique read about both the history of American road trips and our interstate system while also offering intimate family narratives of road trip experiences. See full description below.
“A lighthearted, entertaining trip down Memory Lane” (Kirkus Reviews), Don’t Make Me Pull Over! offers a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips—before portable DVD players, smartphones, and Google Maps.
The birth of America’s first interstate highways in the 1950s hit the gas pedal on the road trip phenomenon and families were soon streaming—sans seatbelts!—to a range of sometimes stirring, sometimes wacky locations. In the days before cheap air travel, families didn’t so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay thousands of miles and dozens of annoyances, and with his family Richard Ratay experienced all of them—from being crowded into the backseat with noogie-happy older brothers, to picking out a souvenir only to find that a better one might have been had at the next attraction, to dealing with a dad who didn’t believe in bathroom breaks.
Now, decades later, Ratay offers “an amiable guide…fun and informative” (New York Newsday) that “goes down like a cold lemonade on a hot summer’s day” (The Wall Street Journal). In hundreds of amusing ways, he reminds us of what once made the Great American Family Road Trip so great, including twenty-foot “land yachts,” oasis-like Holiday Inn “Holidomes,” “Smokey”-spotting Fuzzbusters, twenty-eight glorious flavors of Howard Johnson’s ice cream, and the thrill of finding a “good buddy” on the CB radio.
This last one is not US based. Based in the 1970s, Ted Simon set off from London and traveled the world by motorcycle for four years. See full description below.
Simon rode a motorcycle around the world in the seventies, when such a thing was unheard of. In four years he covered 78,000 miles through 45 countries, living with peasants and presidents, in prisons and palaces, through wars and revolutions.
An incredible journey in the days before cell phones and the internet, and all done solo with no support team or social media updates.
I hope you enjoyed and feel inspired to explore the road yourself, whether it be physically or through a book’s pages. Happy travels!
If you enjoyed this book list, make sure you check out Joyana’s other Book Lists HERE.
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