These 12 books will make you laugh, cry, and wonder. Some are about journeys, real or imagined. Some remind us how incredible this country is as we travel her parks and highways. All of them are perfect books to read on the road.
1. Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, And Dying In The National Parks
by Andrea Lankford
For 12 years, Andrea Lankford had one of the best jobs in the world, she was a Park Ranger. Sounds relaxing? Not quite! Travel through Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Great Smokies, and Denali meeting horses, bears, snakes, and baby sea turtles. Meet friends and enemies, see beauty and pain. Andrea’s journey was as wild and expansive as our National Parks.
2. On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
If you’ve never read this, now’s a good time. A classic American road trip tale, two friends set out to explore the country and figure out a bit more about life. Of course, things never go as planned…but there’s always hope.
3. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
The movie is awesome, but if you want the original story the book is the place to be! After her mother’s death and then the death of her marriage, Cheryl is losing herself. To try to find the person she was, or at least a vision of who she could be, she sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. With no training and only the slimmest of plans, Cheryl puts one foot in front of the other and heads into her future.
4. Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street
by Rick Antonson
The most famous highway in the world. It’s not gone, but it is hidden. Behind the freeways and fast food stops lies the original Route 66. Rick and Peter travel the old road from Chicago to LA, picking up the folklore, seeing incredible views, and meeting memorable people along the way.
Plus, Antonson commits part of his book’s proceeds to the preservation work of the National Route 66 Federation.
5. Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark
by Alvin Schwartz
Keep this on hand for campfire nights! Skeletons, ghosts, haunted houses. Boo!
6. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus
Meet May Dodd – a pioneer women who travels to the western prairies in 1875 to marry a Cheyenne Indian she has never met. May journeys through an America long gone and lives in the space between “civilized” and “savage”. A beautiful, fictional tale of a woman finding her place in the world.
7. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
by Rinker Buck
While you are cozy in your car or by a campfire, consider if you were traveling in a covered wagon, leaving your home behind forever, to enter a world unknown. Oh, the adventure! A little bit history lesson, and a lot of adventure, this true story will have you viewing the American landscape around you in a new way.
8. The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
The ultimate journey story! Trolls, elves, dragons, wraiths! Stories, tricks and ohh, the food. Cozy up with this classic.
9. Boomer’s Bucket List
by Sue Pethick
A buddy road trip story with a twist! Jennifer’s canine best friend, Boomer, has a heart condition. So to make sure his last few months are filled with the doggiest adventures possible, she takes him on a road trip across America! (You’ll want some tissues for this one!)
10. The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown
by Catherine Burns
New York City’s famous story center, The Moth, is turning 20. To celebrate they’re releasing a beautiful anthology of 45 of their most memorable and intriguing stories. The authors range from high-school students to comedians and neuroscientists, each one a treasure.
11. Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America
by Jon Mooallem
Meet the animals that make this country wild, and the people who are helping make sure they survive. Inspired by his daughter’s love of animals, Mooallem takes us on a tour of America’s ecosystem and brings to life every bee, beaver, and bear we may see on our travels.
12. The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food
by Matthew Gavin Frank
Warning: will make you hungry! See America through your tummy! A story in 50 dishes – one from each state – with a bit of culture, history, recipe, fun, and friendship served with each and every one.