Friday, July 01, 2011

Road Trips (Books that make me want to travel)

Sometimes I read a book and whether it's set in another city/country, or the talks about travel to a foreign city/country, something about it just makes me feel itchy to travel and see new things. Hopefully this will be the first of many posts that discuss the book that make me want to travel. Today, I'll be discussing road trips.

I love a good road trip. I'm sure that I've mentioned on this blog before how my earliest and fondest memories of growing were the road trips that our family took on a regular basis. Because my father was afraid to fly after his experiences in Vietnam, our family drove everywhere. Living for many years in Alaska, we took twice-yearly trips down to northern California and back to visit family. I miss the sight of the Pacific Ocean something terrible.

I love my vague memories as one road trip blends into another in my head, of driving along with the windows down and the radio blaring, my dad and I singing loudly and terribly to some rockin' 50s and 60s music. My brother and I would squabble over sweets and who got to use the fluffy pillow for napping and playing I-Spy and the licence plate game. When we were younger, we'd make a cave out of blankets and pretend to be dinosaurs. I've had some very happy memories road-tripping.

So, really, there's nothing I like more (almost) than a good road-trip novel. Something adventurous and exciting, but also something rather emotional. There needs to be lots of mishaps and points for music play-lists and getting lost or with car trouble. I think the interactions between the people on the road trip is also important, otherwise there'd be just people sat in a car driving, so something transformative in the relationships as we reach our destination. Here is a small list of some of the road trip novels I have read recently and absolutely loved. And after I read each of them, I felt the desperate urge to grab some supplies and head off on the road...

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - There's something really wonderful about this book. I love the way the book is put together, with scraps of reciepts and photos that add to the narrative. I love the playlists and the maps in which give a really interactive feel to the novel. Wonderfully done. And also a really excellent story. Amy is a bit fragile and mixed up after the death of her father, so when her mom decides to move the family to another state, Amy is persuaded on this cross-country road trip in order to deliver the car. Roped into doing the driving is Roger, someone Amy used to know but must get to know again. He's going through some stuff too and together this trip does indeed become very transformative. Great fun!

Angel by LA Weatherly - Angel by LA Weatherly that completely took me by surprise. I really love that she took angels who have always been seen as pure and good and she turns them into the bad guys in this book. I adore that. But as exciting as the whole story is, with an angel-hunter and this girl on the run, I think the part that made me fall HARD for this book is that there's this long road trip, in which both Willow and Alex aren't sure about the other. There's misunderstandings and tension and driving across the United States. Brilliant.

Paper Towns by John Green - I love John Green. I know, shocker. I love his sense of humour and the dialogue in his books. I love his characters and especially the friendship between the characters. I love that he adds things to his stories like the poetry of Walt Whitman to make a simple story that much more fun and complex. And of course, I love that the build-up towards solving this mystery that Paper Towns is after takes place with a road trip. A road trip with a van full of friends, with every stop for gas and snacks and bathroom breaks is timed to the minute in this desperate dash to get to where they need to be. There's so much FUN to the road trip in Paper Towns that it actually makes me YEARN to be a teenager again and do crazy and impulsive things like run out of graduation and go on this epic journey across state lines. It puts a huge cheesy smile on my face just thinking about it.

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt - Can you even imagine what it would feel like to be forced into a road trip with your ex? To feel hurt or betrayed but to also still feel confused and attracted to them? To have those feelings and to be sat next to them, listening to conversations they have with someone else, wondering, is that who I was replaced with? To be cooped up in a small car, being very physically close to someone else, the whole atmosphere charged with so much feeling and emotion that neither one of you really know what to do with? That's what Two Way Street is about. Together with quirky and fun best friends and a big secret that is keeping these two people apart. A fun book to read.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray - Going Bovine is by far my most favourite road trip novel I've read in a long time, as well as being just a brilliant and a favourite book in general. It has absolutely everything that I'd like in a road trip story and so much more that I never would have thought of in my wildest dreams. It's got mishaps and adventure, wonderful characters and relationships that change over the course of the story and it is packed with so much emotion that I can hardly believe it. A wonderful, beautiful book that is both bizarre and touching. About a boy who is diagnosed with a terminal disease (Mad Cow!) and goes on a road trip in order to find a time-travelling Dr X with a magical cure who travels with a Norse yard gnome and the occasional appearance of a pink-haired angel - it truly is a magnificent book.

There are my favourites. Do you have a favourite road trip novel? And do you ever get inspired to travel after reading a good book?


  1. I don't think I have ever read a road trip book yet, but I feel inspired to do so.

  2. I really liked Angel, I think the tension between Alex and Willow is what made that road trip :P. I still haven't read Amy & Roger but it sounds like the kind of road trip I wouldn't mind going on myself, and I really want to read Two Way Street! Thanks for this - I feel like organising a road trip now...

  3. Great post! Road trip books is probably one of my favourite themes for books (and films). I think it's something about the freedom of them that I love. You can leave your troubles behind and enjoy the journey as it comes.

    I loved Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and Paper Towns. I also enjoyed Going Bovine and I must look up Two-Way Street and get around to reading Angel.

    I can't really think of any other road trip books I've read except for Travels With Charley which I loved :)

  4. Great post! John Green really made me want to go travel around the different pseudodivisions! Thinking about unfinished places, and Orlando, in a different way.
    In non-fiction Eat Pray Love has had a mega effect on me! I want nothing more to go travelling around Italy, India and Indonesia - especially Italy. I never really wanted to travel until I read this book!! The description of the places, and the food, had me itching to go and had my mouth watering.

  5. Great post, I love a good road trip story and I already have a few of these lined up waiting.

  6. Vivienne - Oh you should! They are so much fun! :)

    Liz - Yes, I completely agree. That tension was off the page between Alex and Willow :)

    TLO - Yes, completely agree with regarding the freedom of road trips! :) ..not sure I'm familiar with Travels with Charley, but I can definitely recommend the others!

    Caoimhe - I felt the urge to travel after reading Eat Pray Love as well! Especially to see Italy.

    Jenni - Oh me too. Always on the look out for more road trip stories though!

  7. It never really occurred to me to try "road trip novels" as a genre, but I'm enjoying Amy and Roger so far. Feels like I'm getting out and seeing a bit of the world, if you know what I mean.

  8. Angel & Amy and Roger's Epic Detour are both books which made me want to travel too and are both great books.

  9. I don't think I've read many road trip books, the only one I remember is the third in Sarra Manning's Diary of a Crush trilogy. Clearly I need to read more (though I do love that one).

  10. Don't Stop Now also features a road trip! It's one of my massive buzz-buttons, I love road trip books, too. Water for Elephants is a road trip in a roundabout way, too! I try to look at any fantasy novel I read as being a road trip. It should have the same elements. - Elle

  11. Katie - I know exactly what you mean! It's part of the reason that I love road trip novels so much :)

    BFC - We're in complete agreement there :)

    Julianne - I haven't ever read the Diary of a Crush series despite loving Sarra Manning! If one of the books features a road trip than all the more reason to track the series down! :)

    ELle - Don't Stop Now? I'm not sure I know that one? But ooh, I want to read Water For Elephants! :) And I can see what you're saying about fantasy novels, what a great observation!

  12. Paper Towns is a great one. I'd add Travels with Charley to the list.

  13. Melissa - You're the second person to mention Travels with Charley, I shall certainly be looking it up now, thanks! :)


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