This Map Of American Literature Road Trips Is Perfect For Summer

Illustration for article titled This Map Of American Literature Road Trips Is Perfect For Summer

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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I have 3 years left until I retire at age 66. I want to take road trips to scenic places in the US. Ideally, it would be in a car like a Miata, but practicality will probably take something more sedate. The big question is, where should I go first?