With Summer comes travel. Finally, the opportunity presents itself to hit the open road, fill a rucksack with a few essentials, and leave the city glow faltering behind. Inevitably, a journey’s beauty, adventure, and satiated sense of curiosity is accompanied by missed connections, delayed flights, and flat tires. To ensure the downtime of your Summer travel is well spent, invest in these faithful paged companions for the road. We’ve even taken the leg work out of it, and paired our favorite travel stories with a fitting final destination as well. The sun will only stay high for so long, so get out there, and remember, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine
1. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. Bring on a Coast to Coast road trip.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Thoughtful, well-detailed, and neither too dark nor light, Steinbeck’s account of his cross-country travels with his Poodle, Charley, is the perfect road trip read. Eloquently delivered, Steinbeck manages to turn a critical eye toward hot-button issues of the 1960s — dissatisfaction with the frantic growth of America, racial hostility, and the quandary of how progress can lead to a sense of loneliness—without falling into despair. The relationship between Steinbeck and Charley is timeless and heart-warming, and the detailed description of nature and the far-reaching influence it has on American life make this novel a travel mainstay.
2. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. Read on a hike, near or far from the arduous Appalachian Trail.
“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.”
Bill Bryson delivers the classic tale of two wayward companions on the daunting 2,100 mile trail connecting Maine to Georgia. The distinctly different ‘guides’ for this multi-month trek are the focus of this masterfully-written story, as well as the myriad characters they run in to along the way. While describing chance encounters in hilarious detail, penning adoration for flora and fauna with ease, and inspiring an appreciation for adventure, Bryson solidifies his place among the country’s great travel writers. Make room in your pack for this one.
3. The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. Read while enduring an 8-hour layover.
“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”
Part philosophy treatise, part travel tome, The Art of Travel delivers endearing perspectives on the reasoning behind why we travel. Abstract, yet easy to read and understand, Alain de Botton’s work pries at the inner journey that we all hope to take along with our literal trip, and encourages readers to see the beauty in the cultures, people, and mundane that exist both at home and abroad.
4. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. Read on a trip through South America.
“I pictured a low timber house with a shingled roof, caulked against storms, with blazing log fires inside and the walls lined with all the best books, somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.”
Starting with a simple telegram to his editor at London’s Sunday Times Magazine stating “Have gone to Patagonia,” author Bruce Chatwin charted a course through the then little-known South American landscape. Rife with historic anecdotes intertwined in Chatwin’s personal storyline, the novel unfolds effortlessly and highlights the past, the people, and the geography that shaped this mysterious locale.