10 Great Books About Road Trips (for Those Who’ve Read Jack Kerouac)

Everyone loves (or pretends to love) On the Road. Yet there’s a library’s worth of great, off-the-beaten-track road-trip literature to be discovered. We’ve picked out the lesser-read tales of pioneering women travellers and stereotype-busting stories that take you on journeys far beyond the “great American road trip”. Join us for the ride.

the Road? Read that. Travels with Charley? So secondary
school. There are stacks of road trip novels, but as good as some
of the classics are, they do begin to feel a tad overdone on lists
of chart-topping, bestselling novels.

We’ve dug a little deeper through the back catalogue of
road-trip literature and picked up a few newer titles to find tales
by boundary-pushing women travellers, stereotype-busting stories
and even a tome that has a hint of eco-thriller about it.

We’re going far beyond the well-beaten tracks of the “great
American road trip” to the roads less travelled. Join us for the

10 of the best, underrated books about road trips

America Day by Day

by Simone De Beauvoir

There are plenty of books on the “great American road trip”;
there are not so many as deliciously told as this, however. In 1947
the French writer spent four months travelling by car, Greyhound
and train between New
and LA
– and back again – tucking into the states’ diverse customs and
cultures en route. She encounters
‘s underworld of morphine addicts, gambles in Reno and
smokes her first joint at the Plaza Hotel.

Flaming Iguanas

by Erika Lopez

Subtitled “an illustrated all-girl road novel thing”, this
offbeat, graphic tale of Tomato Rodriguez’s sea-to-sea motorcycle
journey is just the ticket for those who just can’t seem to get
properly stuck into a book for one reason or another. Written in
reaction to the typical “white man’s road trip”, this story is a
wild, raunchy ride. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Easy Rider.
Buckle up.

Around the World in 72 Days

by Nellie Bly

Around the world in 80 days? Yawn. Less than two decades after
Jules Verne’s fiction became a bestseller, 24-year-old journalist
Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (under the pseudonym Nellie Bly) chronicled
her round-world trip for a New
tabloid. It’s not a road trip in the “road” sense – she
travels through England, Amiens, Brindisi, Penang, Japan and more
via rail and steamship – but we’re taken with the fact that she
travelled with just a few changes of underwear, toiletries and a
bag of cash tied around her neck. Her souvenir? A monkey.

The Routes of Man

by Ted Conover

Roads are more than ways to get from A to B; they can be tools
of connection, unity, hope and fear. Following six trucks on six
different byways – rare mahogany being transported across the
Andes, East African truckers linked to the spread of AIDS, those
crossing West Bank checkpoints and others on Lagos’ congested
streets – this book reflects on how roads shape our physical and
social landscape.

Revolutionary Ride: On The Road in Search of the Real Iran

by Lois Pryce

It’s 2011 and tensions are high between the British and Iranian
governments when travel writer Pryce finds a note left on her
motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London.
“WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS! Please come to my city, Shiraz.” So,
against official warnings, she does. On a 5,000km solo ride across
the country, she meets carpet sellers, war veterans, housewives and
doctors who are full of energy and hope in the face of

The Death of Grass

by John Christopher

Most road-trip novels centre around soul searching or escapism
in one form or another. This is a bit different. Think of it as
road-trip-meets-eco-thriller written more than half a century
before eco thrillers were a thing. When a virus kills a species of
grass in Asia and Europe, and the US and
close their borders, an engineer and his family drive
across Britain in chaos, trying not to starve along the way.

We All Loved Cowboys

by Carol Bensimon

Translated from Portuguese, this story of queer love on the run
follows friends Julia and Cora who have fallen out, reunite for a
long-planned road trip through
, and emerge with something a little more than
friendship. It’s a short but moving read, and one for which Granta
named Bensimon one of
‘s best young novelists.

Lovecraft Country

by Matt Ruff

This is a portrait of a country in the grip of racism and
demons. A young African-American army veteran travels across the
Jim Crow-era US – from Chicago
to New England – searching for his missing father. Think of it as a
sci-fi, pulp-esque take on Get Out. One that’s so thrilling, in
fact, that it’s about to be released (on 16 August) as a series on

Jupiter’s Travels

by Ted Simon

In the days before mobile phones and internet, support teams and
social media, Ted Simon embarked on a four-year, 100,000km journey
from London,
crossing 54 countries around the world, passing through prisons,
war, natural disasters and revolutions en route. He was treated as
a spy, welcomed as a stranger, even worshipped as a god. If you
need some no-fuss escapism, this is it.

Catfish and Mandala

by Andrew X. Pham

Road trips needn’t be defined by four wheels – or leaving a big
carbon footprint for that matter. Vietnamese-born and
-raised Andrew X. Pham returns to Saigon having sold
all his possessions in the wake of his trans sister’s suicide. From
here he sets off on a bicycle ride of self-discovery through the
country’s ghost-ridden landscape, across the
Mexican desert
and around Japan.

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