10 Best Books to Read on the Road
1. On the Road - Kerouac
On the Road is a classic travel book. Perhaps even the classic travel book. It is an autobiographical account of Kerouac’s travels across America, from New York City to California to Mexico and back. Although it should be noted that this book is backwards in some of its content and ideas, what is truly striking about it is the feeling it ingrains into your heart. After reading this book, it’s impossible not to feel the same restlessness depicted by Kerouac, and makes it a wonderful book to inspire you on your journey.
2. Into the Wild - Krakauer
Into the Wild is a true story of a man, Christopher McCandless, who took off for the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless himself was highly criticized for his recklessness in this adventure. However, what struck Krakauer, and the reason for which he wrote this novel, is what drove McCandless to the edges of society. Entangled within this book are many beliefs shared by transcendentalists such as Thoreau. This is a must-have for any road trip designed to get away from societal pressures.
3. Travels with Charley: In Search of America - Steinbeck
Written when Steinbeck was old and sick, this novel details Steinbeck’s drive across America and back with his dog, Charley. It was supposed by Steinbeck’s son that the real reason for such a trip was his desire to see America one last time, although Steinbeck himself claimed that it was for the purpose of seeing what America was truly like. Although it is unclear how truthful the novel actually is, the wanderlust depicted within the pages is only too real for many of us, and makes this book perfect for any road trip.
4. A Walk Across America - Jenkins
This book depicts one man’s journey on foot from New York to Louisiana. Although this is a shorter distance to travel than some of the other novels included in this list, Jenkins has enough self-growth and self-discovery to fill three full-length novels. Between true love, a religious awakening, losing a friend, and finding himself, this book has it all. No matter what you find on your own travels, it is likely to also be found within the pages of A Walk Across America.
5. Around the World in Eighty Days - Verne
Although this novel is less focused on the self-discovery of traveling and more on a fictionalized plot, it gives some much needed levity to any long car ride. Traveling can sometimes be a lot of self-evaluating. If you’re looking for a break from deep thinking, you can enjoy a light-hearted novel that will still motivate you to keep going.
6. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the classic ‘road trip’ novel from the 1800’s, with boats instead of cars. This novel is exciting and fictional in many ways. It follows Huckleberry Finn’s innocent pursuits of freedom, involving elaborate plots that could only be invented by a child’s mind. However, it also strikes a deeper chord, one that can resonate with anybody desiring a change in scenery. Twain’s novel describes the personalities which greet the characters on their adventures and notes the serious problems contained within certain parts of the world.
7. Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone - Morris
Morris’s novel is a real-life telling of her experiences traveling in the Americas. Much like other books mentioned in this list, she describes her struggles with self-identity, this search manifested physically through her travels to different countries. However, Morris also criticizes many social issues within the places she visits, such as poverty and “machismo.” This is a wonderful novel to read when exploring South or Central America, or for anyone experiencing places and situations extremely divergent from their own.
8. The Alchemist - Coelho
The Alchemist is a book centered around discovering what is truly valuable and finding your own path. The main character, Santiago, is on a journey to find a treasure he believes to be in the Egyptian pyramids. However, along the way, he discovers true love and his own purpose. This is the perfect novel to take with you on your next journey for life’s meaning.
9. The Hobbit - Tolkien
Everybody knows Tolkien loves to write travel novels. The Hobbit, much like Around the World in Eighty Days, is on the lighter side. However, it, too, addresses the themes of discovering the meaning of life and your own place in the world. Despite the dragons and magic, The Hobbit addresses some of the most human themes, and is great for a fun read while on the road.
10. Don Quixote - Cervantes
There are many reasons to read Don Quixote, as it is both beautifully written and arguably the world’s first modern novel. However, at its core, Don Quixote is a tale about two friends going on an idealistic adventure together. Although written over 400 years ago, this book depicts many of the same themes we experience in our everyday lives, particularly disillusionment. Not only is this novel a must-read, but it is also a wonderful tale of travel and adventure perfect for your next road trip.