You know the feeling: feet on the dashboard, windows down, music blaring, and nothing but a winding road into the mountains ahead—pure freedom. There’s something so romantically wild and transformative about road trips, and while you can’t always go on one, you can certainly feel the sensation of pavement escaping the wheels when you pick up a book about a good road tripping adventure. And no, On the Road is not on this list.
Here are five novels, some fiction, some not, that you might want to read to get your road trip fix, or use as inspiration for your next one:
1. The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang
This recently published fiction chronicles the journey of a Chinese/Taiwanese family. Charles, the patriarch and once a millionaire, loses his business and assets in the 2008 financial crisis. As a result, he and his family set out on the road from Bel Air to upstate New York to visit his eldest daughter.
2. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
After Chris McCandless graduates from Emory University, he donates the rest of his college fund to Oxfam and ceasing all communication his family. McCandless, inspired by Jack London, whom wrote Call of the Wild, embarks on a cross-country adventure that eventually leads him to Alaska, where he is found dead. Krakauer’s non-fiction account inspires both a sense of adventure and sadness as he takes you along McCandless's journey.
3. Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
This novel follows a rock and blues band from Spokane; comprised of Native Americans. They head on tour from Seattle to New York City, playing shows. The story combines humor, culture, and magical realism.
4. Take a Seat by Dominic Gill
Not all road trips require vehicles. This non-fiction story takes you on Dominic Gill’s journey as he decided to cycle from Alaska to Argentina. Gill decided to do the trip by tandem bicycle; picking up secondary strangers along the way to get to know the places he rode through. You can also catch his journey on film.
5. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Road trips are fabulous with friends, but sometimes it just needs to be you and your dog in the front seats. This book chronicles a road trip Steinbeck took in 1960 with his poodle, Charley. The trip encompassed roughly 10,000 miles of the United States’s border, and gave Steinbeck the chance to see the American lives he was inspired to write about.