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Traveling the USA: Books to Read Before You Hit The Road

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From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam…from the Appalachian Mountains to the Sierra Madre from a Beat poet on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a writer who has built a career on writing about his travels this is a list of books that are as good on a bedside table as they are in a suitcase.


Travels with Charley in Search of America
by John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years. John Steinbeck was awarded in 1964.

Travels with Charley in Search of America
John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years. John Steinbeck was awarded in 1964.

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A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson

A middle-aged duo attempts to trek the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in Bill Bryson’s hilarious travel memoir, meeting a motley assortment of fellow hikers and black bears along the way. Robert Redford produces and stars in the film adaptation, with a supporting cast that includes Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. No word yet on who’s playing the bears.

Release date: September 2, 2015

A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson

A middle-aged duo attempts to trek the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in Bill Bryson’s hilarious travel memoir, meeting a motley assortment of fellow hikers and black bears along the way. Robert Redford produces and stars in the film adaptation, with a supporting cast that includes Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. No word yet on who’s playing the bears.

Release date: September 2, 2015

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God's Middle Finger
by Richard Grant

Twenty miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border, the rugged, beautiful Sierra Madre mountains begin their dramatic ascent. The rules of law and society have never taken hold in the Sierra Madre, which is home to bandits, drug smugglers, Mormons, cave-dwelling Tarahumara Indians, opium farmers, cowboys, and other assorted outcasts. Outsiders are not welcome; drugs are the primary source of income; murder is all but a regional pastime. The Mexican army occasionally goes in to burn marijuana and opium crops -- the modern treasure of the Sierra Madre -- but otherwise the government stays away. Fifteen years ago, journalist Richard Grant developed what he calls "an unfortunate fascination" with this lawless place. With gorgeous detail, fascinating insight, and an undercurrent of dark humor, God's Middle Finger brings to vivid life a truly unique and uncharted world.

God's Middle Finger
Richard Grant

Twenty miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border, the rugged, beautiful Sierra Madre mountains begin their dramatic ascent. The rules of law and society have never taken hold in the Sierra Madre, which is home to bandits, drug smugglers, Mormons, cave-dwelling Tarahumara Indians, opium farmers, cowboys, and other assorted outcasts. Outsiders are not welcome; drugs are the primary source of income; murder is all but a regional pastime. The Mexican army occasionally goes in to burn marijuana and opium crops -- the modern treasure of the Sierra Madre -- but otherwise the government stays away. Fifteen years ago, journalist Richard Grant developed what he calls "an unfortunate fascination" with this lawless place. With gorgeous detail, fascinating insight, and an undercurrent of dark humor, God's Middle Finger brings to vivid life a truly unique and uncharted world.

MENTIONED IN:

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Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Into the Wild
Jon Krakauer

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Blue Highways
by William Least Heat-Moon

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi." His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.

Blue Highways
William Least Heat-Moon

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi." His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | February 19, 2014

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On the Road
by Jack Kerouac

With On the Road, Jack Kerouac discovered his voice and his true subject—the search for a place as an outsider in America. On the Road swings to the rhythms of fifties underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns, and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveler and mystic, the living epitome of Beat.

On the Road
Jack Kerouac

With On the Road, Jack Kerouac discovered his voice and his true subject—the search for a place as an outsider in America. On the Road swings to the rhythms of fifties underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns, and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveler and mystic, the living epitome of Beat.

MENTIONED IN:

7 Books to Take You On A Journey

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 28, 2014

Traveling the USA: Books to Read Before You Hit The Road

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 19, 2014

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