As the summer months stretch in front of us like treasures for plundering, a familiar restlessness takes hold. You may find yourself dreaming of a cross-country adventure to destinations yet unexplored. Why not embrace your wanderlust and take a trip down historic Route 66? Read your way across America with these eight books, stopping all along the road from Chicago to L.A.
Route 66: Before you embark, get a taste for America’s most beloved thoroughfare. A love letter and a tribute, Wallis’s masterpiece takes us on an unforgettable journey through the secret corners and hidden towns along Route 66.
St. Louis, MO: As you move west, return to the World's Fair with this classic novel-cum-film. This is the heartwarming saga of St. Louis’s exultant, glittering take on the World’s Fair at the turn of the twentieth century.
Tulsa, OK: You may want to spend more time in Oklahoma than the Joads, who were driven from their homestead during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s. Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of the American classics.
Amarillo, TX: This winner of the National Book Award for Fiction tells the story of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers. He sets off from Texas to Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey.
Albuquerque, NM: In this novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, protagonist Abel is a Native American teenager struggling to reconcile the traditions of his father’s people with the demands of modern industrial America.
Flagstaff, AZ: At the end of her rope, Codi Noline returns to her Arizona home to face her ailing father, with whom she has a difficult, distant relationship. There, she meets a handsome Apache trainman who tells her, “If you want sweet dreams, you’ve got to live a sweet life.” Filled with lyrical writing, Native American legends, a tender love story and Codi’s quest for identify, this is literary fiction at its very best.
Los Angeles, CA: Set in a place beyond good and evil—literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul—this is a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis, and stunning in the intensity of its prose.