Reading on the road
Summer is just around the corner and the kids are almost out of school, which can only mean one thing – road trip time! As a child I can remember my parents loading up the car to the gills and stuffing me and my two brothers in the back seat before setting off for another far corner of the country. After gorging on road trip snacks and wondering why Colorado seems to be so far from everywhere I would eventually get so bored that I would break down and read a book. These days I can’t wait to plan a road trip just so I can have uninterrupted reading time (besides the whole driving part). The challenge is selecting the perfect road trip read that will keep you engrossed for long periods of time and enhance the trip. By now you have probably read On The Road or Travels with Charley, but there are plenty of modern roadtrip reads that are perfect companions on the road.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
The protagonist in this road trip novel has hit rock-bottom and, in an attempt to start fresh with a new career, finds himself stuck in a car with an angtsy teenager suffering from muscular dystrophy. As his primary caregiver, he has to balance his professional responsibilities with his desire to give the teen what he really craves, a sympathetic ear for his crazy tales. The two make their way across the country in search of the teen's father with all kinds of zany pit stops (from hilarious to heart-breaking) along the way making for an extremely entertaining read.
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
What happens when a librarian finds one of her favorite customers camping out in the library after closing because he is afraid of his over-bearing parents? She kidnaps him and takes him on a road trip to Vermont, of course. Life on the road is full of perils for the duo, but ultimately this funny and light-hearted ode to children's literature will take you back to your school years. And there is also a special bonus for the kid at heart: a brief choose-your-own-adventure chapter! What could be better than that?
Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman
This non-fiction travelogue follows Klosterman as he leaves his personal baggage behind and sets out on an epically grim road trip. Over the course of his three-week, 6,000-mile trip, he visits and explores the graves of some of the greatest rock musicians in history. Along the way he listens to some of the best (and worst) music ever made and eventually comes to the conclusion that the best career move an artist can make is to die early. Klosterman's tradmark sense of humor lightens the otherwise dark themes and creates the perfect road companion for the music lover.
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell
What kind of novel poses thousands of questions, but answers none? Could this possibly make for a fun read? This experimental novel told entirely in the form of questions is not exactly a road trip novel, but makes for a wonderful read-aloud book. The novel is thought-provoking, hilarious, random and surprisingly fluid given the writing style. Plus, your driver will thank you for including them in the fun for once.
What is your favorite part of a road trip: the sights, the snacks, or the books? Do you have a favorite roadtrip read? If you prefer audiobooks for your trip, check out Bailey's recent reccomendations. Safe travels and happy reading!