In my family, vacations typically meant long car trips up and down the continental United States. In between snacks and Motown sing-alongs, we often relied on our love of literature to pass the time across state lines. My family developed the habit of reading aloud to one another as we drove, and since I never travel without several books on hand I usually was called upon to entertain the driver and other passengers. Below are some of my family’s favorite books we definitely recommend checking out on your next long trip.
The 5 Best Books My Family Shared on Long Car Trips
Until his death, my mom and I always read Dominick Dunne's columns in Vanity Fair. A vivid writer, Dunne's collected essays here are an engaging behind-the-scenes look at some of the most notorious crimes committed by the rich and famous. From his own personal tragedy to the circus of the O. J. Simpson trial, Dunne expertly brought his observational skills and breathless writing to these essays—all of which have helped pass time on many a long trip to upstate New York.
Two days before Thanksgiving 2016, I braved the Manhattan cold to get a copy of THE PRINCESS DIARIST signed by my personal hero, Carrie Fisher. The next day, on the car ride to my aunt's house for the holiday, I read this laugh-out-loud memoir to my mom. From Fisher's quirky experiences with Star Wars superfans to her affair with Harrison Ford, her last book is charming, lyrical, and moving. Though her experiences as a young woman are incredibly unique, Fisher crafted an entertaining memoir that is relatable to any woman—no matter how much she loves Star Wars.
Her third memoir, THE PRINCESS DIARIST, published shortly before she died, serves as one of the final pieces of Carrie’s legacy. Carrie consulted the journals she kept during the filming of “Star Wars” to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the beloved franchise from the point of view of a woman looking back at her naïve and vulnerable teenage self.
My sister is an avid reader, but her first experience with a true classic was when, as an 11-year-old, she enthusiastically listened as I read WUTHERING HEIGHTS aloud in car ride to Florida. Even at that age, she was enthralled with the passionate, evocative tale of obsession and vengeance set among the windswept moors of northern England. As it did for my sister, this Gothic masterpiece will haunt you long after you finish it.
“Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
The turbulent and tempestuous love story of Cathy and Heathcliff spans two generations—from the time Heathcliff, a strange, coarse young boy, is brought to live on the Earnshaws’ windswept estate, through Cathy’s marriage to Edgar Linton and Heathcliff’s plans for revenge, to Cathy’s death years later and the eventual union of the surviving Earnshaw and Linton heirs. A masterpiece of imaginative fiction, Wuthering Heights (the author’s only novel) remains as poignant and compelling today as it was when first published in 1847.
The women of my family have a particular weakness: British period-piece dramas. It was through this medium that we discovered Elizabeth Gaskell's nineteenth-century romantic classic of the Industrial Revolution. After bingeing on the 2004 miniseries, I read the novel on an overcast car ride and discovered a masterful and lyrical depiction of Great Britain during tremendous social upheaval. Having a strong heroine and a brooding man as her pining lover definitely added to its romantic charm.
We're a Seinfeld family. So, naturally, I had to get a copy of Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's cultural and social history of the show about nothing. While traveling to and from a cousin's wedding, we shared this hilarious and enlightening book and often laughed together recalling our favorite moments. SEINFELDIA explores the ins and outs of this classic comedy from the show's beginning as an underdog pilot in 1989 to its lofty position as one of the most acclaimed and beloved sitcoms, making this the perfect book for longtime and new fans.
The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up a TV show about nothing. SEINFELDIA captures the magic and hard work that went into "Seinfeld," which became a cultural sensation, changed television, and altered the lives of everyone it touched.