There’s a still a romance about getting behind the wheel and being out on the open road. Sure your phone has replaced the map you can’t figure out how to fold properly and it’s almost impossible to get lost, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for a great read when it’s someone else’s turn to drive.
We’ve selected the top five books for your next road tip about great road trips.
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Published in 1926, this is often considered Hemingway’s best work. A story about American and British expatriates traveling from Paris to Pamplona, Spain for the Festival of San Fermin to watch the running of the bulls, the journey pulls from experiences and people in Hemingway’s life with themes of love, bullfighting, death and of course fishing.
Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry has written some of the more popular novels of the last 50 years, including Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, but it was for Lonesome Dove that he deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s the story of two former Texas Rangers who drive their cattle from Texas to Montana to start a new life. The main character of Augustus McRae is one of the greatest characters ever in fiction and is the kind of guy you want on a cross country trip in the wild.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Yes, you didn’t need this article to highlight this novel, but On the Road is more than just the definitive representation of the Beat Generation. Based on Kerouac’s own travels across America, with the character of Sal Paradise representing Kerouac and Dean Moriarty based on Neal Cassady, the novel has had a lasting impact and influence on everyone from Bob Dylan to Jerry Garcia to Hunter S. Thompson.
Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
The 1996 non-fiction book recounts the two-year travels of Christopher McCandless whose body was later found in an abandoned bus in 1992 as a result of eating toxic seeds and plants while living in the wild. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau or Jack London, McCandless was motivated to free himself from material possessions and drop out to travel and discover some sort of higher purpose and meaning. Krakauer is known for his ability to re-count complex true events and ‘Into the Wild’ is his best work.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America – John Steinbeck
Steinbeck took the ultimate road trip in 1960 when he traveled with the best travel partner there is – his dog Charley. The reason for the trip is one most worthy. Steinbeck had recently learned that he was likely dying and he wanted to see the country he was so known for writing about one more time. The two essentially traveled the perimeter of the country, starting and ending in New York. Steinbeck describes the America he found with a mixture of the retelling of his experiences and his own style of fiction.