If you haven’t picked your summer vacation yet, might I suggest one of these thoroughly-catalogued road trips from some of America’s greatest road-tripping stories? Steven Melendez and Richard Kreitner have teamed up for Atlas Obscura to plot the course of the cross-country trips detailed in some of America’s finest nonfiction.
Kreitner describes his selection process:
To be included, a book needed to have a narrative arc matching the chronological and geographical arc of the trip it chronicles. It needed to be non-fictional, or, as in the case of On the Road, at least told in the first-person. To anticipate a few objections: Lolita’s road-trip passages are scattered and defiant of cartographical order; The Grapes of Wrath’s are brief compared to the sections about poverty and persecution in California; the length of the trip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is short in the geographical sense even if it is prodigiously vast in every other; and yes, The Dharma Bums is On the Road’s equal in every respect, and if you want to map the place-name references in all of Kerouac’s books, I salute you.
The books that passed the test were Wild, The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes, A Walk Across America, Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, The Lost Continent, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, On The Road, Roughing It, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Travels with Charley, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Finally, your perfect summer beach read is also your perfect summer road trip.
For more information on the map and the books, check out Atlas Obscura.
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