Along with beach reads, another book roundup that I love to explore are road trip books! Living in Brooklyn, I don’t have a car but on the occasion that I rent one, it feels like a luxury. Eric and I have taken a lot of long car trips (we used to live in North Carolina and spent many hours driving to/from New York to visit family), and they hold a special place in my heart. Summer is the ideal time to pack up the car and go some place new – because we’re in America, dammit, and that’s what we do. Here are my suggestions for off-beat but quintessential Americana:
A Visit From the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Eagan
The 2010 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it’s a collection of stories featuring many of the same characters, including Bennie Salazar, an aging rock music executive and his old assistant, Sasha. There is a whole chapter written through powerpoint slides and it’s just as powerful and compelling as the traditionally written stories.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by Joan Didion
The 1968 collection of essays by the incomparable Joan Didion, it contains “Goodbye to All That,” her famous piece on leaving New York.
Into the Wild
by John Krakauer
In Into the Wild, John Krakauer proves that he’s not just a skilled reporter, his writing is also efficient, fast-paced, and fascinating. Krakauer tells the story of Chris McCandless, and his untimely death in the Alaskan wilderness.
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
by Flannery O’Connor
Immerse yourself in southern gothic literature with this classic by the wildly talented Flannery O’Connor.
One Summer: America, 1927
by Bill Bryson
Or anything by Bill Bryson, really. One of the preeminent travel writers of our time, tag along with Mr. Bryson in one of his books as he hikes the Appalachian trail, explores Britain, and describes 1927 America.
Travels with Charley in Search of America
by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck was 58, married, and already a successful writer when he decided to take a road trip across the US to learn more about the country he profiled so prolifically. He travels 10,000 miles in a specially-made camper, hoping to see the country on a more personal level.
Honorable mentions and the usual suspects: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat Moon, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Happy reading!