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The Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Reading List

Books to put you in that cross country state of mind.

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William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America

"Blue highways" are non-interstate roads on older U.S. maps. Heat-Moon traveled these backroads to write about places like "Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi."

Cheryl Strayed, Wild

A reflective and ultimately triumphant memoir about overcoming grief and "figuring it all out" that manages to avoid seeming self-indulgent or precious. The reviewer for the New York Times says it "pretty much obliterated [him]."


Richard Wright, Black Boy

Wright's autobiography, with powerful portraits of both his childhood struggles in the racist south of the '20s and his fitful political and intellectual awakenings after a move to Chicago.


Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues

Alexie's writing is steeped in a very American brand of magical realism. Reservation Blues orbits around the legend of delta blues legend Robert Johnson and life on a Spokane Indian reservation.

Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live

The account of a road trip across America loosely organized around investigating the deaths of rock stars. Not everyone loves Klosterman's goofily irreverent style, but Killing Yourself is an undeniably inventive modern American travelogue.

BONUS: Dashboard Books

Going cross country, the car is your home and the dashboard is your coffee table.

Robert Frank, The Americans

Frank traveled around America for two straight years (1955-57), taking nearly 28,000 photos in the process. The result is maybe the most definitive snapshot of the country and its citizens in their own time.

See some of the photos here.

Paul Fusco, RFK

Fusco traveled on the train carrying Robert F. Kennedy's casket from New York City to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, taking photos of the onlookers crowding the tracks. Elegiac and moving.

See some of the photos here.