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From the Librarian’s Desk: Follow A Literary Road Trip

Literary Road Trips

The site Atlas Obscura has mapped classic road trips that are discussed in favorite books. Among those mapped are: Wild, The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, Rolling Nowhere, A Walk Across America, Cross Country, The Lost Continent, Blue Highways, On the Road, Roughing It, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Travels with Charley, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

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Now you can see the routes from the books in a map of the United States. There are clickable locations throughout the routes where you can view the text of each of the mapped books. Book nerd fun.

Check out this literary map here.

BY RICHARD KREITNER (WRITER), STEVEN MELENDEZ (MAP)

Wild, Cheryl Strayed. 2012. After a series of personal crises, the author hits the Pacific Crest Trail and walks from Southern California to Portland. Self-actualization ensues.

The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, F. Scott Fitzgerald. 1934. Scott and Zelda’s wacky adventures along the muddy, unkept roads of the mid-Atlantic and the South, as they drive from Connecticut to her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama.

Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes, Ted Conover.1984. Conover, our most accomplished method journalist, studies with a merciful lack of sentimentality a subculture of transients that has long been mourned and romanticized more than it has been loved or even tolerated.

A Walk Across America, Peter Jenkins. 1979. Jenkins and his dog Cooper hoof it to New Orleans from upstate New York; along the way they encounter poverty, racism, hippies, illness, hateful cops and—at least for one of them—violent vehicular death. Oh, and in Mobile, Alabama, God.

Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, Robert Sullivan. 2006. As much a free-association history of the American road trip as the chronicle of one in particular, Sullivan’s book is rare in that it documents a time-restricted straight-shot across the continent, interstates and chain-motels and all. Abandon nostalgia, all ye who enter here.

The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson. 1989. A sneering account of this exile’s return from abroad and his re-acquaintance with his native country. Bryson seems to be reminded on almost every page of why he chose to leave it, and we of why we let him.

Blue Highways: A Journey into America, William Least Heat Moon. 1982. Not less critical of America and Americans than Bryson but more interestingly so, the author takes his van on the road for three months after separating from his wife and sticks only to smaller highways while avoiding the cities. He has long debates about local history and current affairs with people on the road and pays especial attention to quirky place-names–a traveler after my own heart.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac. 1957. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty search for bop, kicks, speed and the night.

Roughing It, Mark Twain. 1872. Twain’s book about his journey west by stagecoach a decade earlier is a incredible account of transcontinental travel before the railroad made it infinitely easier; his sections about the early Mormons in Salt Lake City, the mining settlements in Nevada and the pre-Americanized Sandwich Islands–aka, Hawaii–are also well worth the read.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig. 1974. The author and his son ride by motorcycle to California; Profound Philosophical Ruminations ensue. Very 1970s.

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck. 1962. The aging novelist, his black-poodle pooch and Rocinante, the customized van named after Don Quixote’s horse, light out for the territories; Charley discovers redwoods, which depress him; Steinbeck discovers that you can’t go home again.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe. 1968. Ken Kesey and the highly-acidic Merry Pranksters take the bus Further across the country to “tootle” its citizens out of lethargy. Neal Cassady rides again.

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