A good book about road trips and travel can inspire a summer adventure, and with warmer weather setting in it’s time to get in the mood for exploration. Here are ten great road trip books — some lighthearted, some serious and introspective—that will have you behind the wheel and hiking the trails, even jetsetting, in no time.
1. Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck: One of America’s most beloved authors sets out to rediscover the country’s backroads and colorful characters with his French poodle, Charley, riding shotgun. A classic.
2. Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell: A disturbing and fascinating journey of historical tourism to the locations immortalized by political murders, and the way these locations speak to American politics and popular culture.
3. The Atlas – William T. Vollmann: Fifty-three interconnected tales—from Phnom Penh to Sarajevo, Mogadishu to New York—combine autobiography, fantasy, and reportage, to bring a fascinating array of human experiences together in eye-opening fashion.
4. Consider the Lobster – David Foster Wallace: A journey through the odd landscapes of American through the eyes of one of the country’s most distinct voices—whimsical and biting observations everything from a lobster festival in Maine to coverage of the presidential race.
5. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert: A heartfelt memoir of leaving behind American success for a new, romantic life in Italy and Bali. Gilbert’s beautifully-written story is now a major motion picture.
7. A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson: Proving that not all cross-country road trips need take place in a car, Bryson recounts with humor and insight his hike along the Appalachian Trail and discovers the country through the trees.
8. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne: From London to Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York and back to London again, all in just eighty action-packed days. This race around the globe turns Phileas Fogg’s life upside down.
9. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift: Shipwrecked castaway Lemuel Gulliver’s encounters world’s unimagined and characters stranger and more disturbing than anyone you’re likely to find on your summer vacation… we hope.
10. Three Weeks with My Brother – Nicholas Sparks: In this memoir, Sparks and his brother Micah, the only surviving members of their family, travel the globe and are inspired to embrace life by the untimely deaths of family members.
Are you planning a summer road trip or vacation? Where are you headed, and what do you plan to read along the way?