Chronicles of wanderlust on four wheels, and guides for the intrepid.
By Larry McMurtry
Growing up in a landlocked Texas town, the highway was Larry McMurtry’s river, offering mystery, adventure, endless possibility. In this wide-ranging work of nonfiction, the author of novels including The Last Picture Show and the celebrated Lonesome Dove series crisscrosses the country in search of a national character and the key to his own identity. From South Florida to North Dakota, from Long Island to Oregon, McMurtry contemplates the American obsession with travel and the pioneering spirit.
By William Least Heat-Moon
Where McMurtry keeps to the major interstates, William Least Heat-Moon set out to drive crosscountry by the smaller two-lane highways that were blue in his atlas. His chronicle of the path he takes in his van Ghost Dancing and the people he meets — hang-gliders and monks, racists and visionaries — is powerful. You’ll want to follow up with Blue Highways Revisited, in which photographer Edgar I Ailor III and his son retrace Heat-Moon’s path three decades after the fact to discover what has — and hasn’t — changed in the interim.
By Jack Kerouac
“The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.” Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty — fictional stand-ins for Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady — roam America’s wide open spaces on a visionary quest for experience and enlightenment. This fictionalized rendering of their restless journeys became a touchstone for the Beat sensibility, and an almost sacred icon for an emerging youth culture. (And in a legendary meeting of the Beat and Hippie generations, Cassady would later emerge as the driver of Ken Kesey’s LSD-fueled “Furthur” bus, immortalized by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)
By Nicolas Bouvier
As Robert Messenger wrote in his review of this classic: “In 1953, the 24-year-old Swiss writer Nicolas Bouvier left Geneva in a battered old Fiat Topolino, aiming to go across Asia with an artist friend. ‘We had two years in front of us, and money for four months. The programme was vague; the main thing was just to get going.'” They made it 47,000 miles — sometimes pushing the car — and passed through Belgrade, Istanbul, Tabriz, Kabul, on their way East, and into literary history.
By Jamie Jensen
When you’re planning something more than an armchair excursion, this definitive volume — now in the sixth edition — maps out cross-country routes and offers essential, road-tested advice. Jamie Jensen looks beyond the big highways and world-famous sights to steer you toward little-known vistas, oddball attractions, obscure towns, and roadside attractions galore. Happy driving!