Yep, there’s nothing better than riding your motorcycle. But when your bike’s in the shop, you’re settling down for bed, or the rain hasn’t let up in two weeks, you can still get a glimpse of that great American wilderness.
Road trip books were much more popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. They symbolized the new freedom to Americans, as most people were able to afford a bike or a car. As a result, many authors took to the interstates in search of themselves.
They delved into America and served it up on the written page.
Those free-wheeling free spirits left behind great American road trip books, which have been a favorite of wanderers and bikers for decades.
So grab one of these books, get comfy, and take a ride.
1) Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
Sure, John Steinbeck gets some flak. A lot of people claim that most of his adventures in this book are exaggerated or invented. That’s little surprise: Steinbeck also wrote great pieces of fiction like “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”
Still, even critics can’t deny that Steinbeck’s book has charm. Steinbeck set out into America in the back of his pickup truck. As he wanders the roads and meets eccentric people, he talks to himself and his American Standard Poodle, Charley.
The result is an eclectic collection of American eccentrics, wide open desert highways, and melancholy. After all, Steinbeck died shortly after the book was published. His son claims that Steinbeck knew he was about to die.
2) On the Road, Jack Kerouac
On the Road is believed by many people to be the defining book of the “beat” generation. Written on a long cross-country road trip, the book was hailed as one of the best American books ever written.
It’s hard to explain if you haven’t read it. Basically, a group of short stories all gradually combine, meld, and merge into one psychedelic experience.
The book covers three different road trips, but it’s less of a concrete road trip book — and more of a trip into America’s consciousness. On the Road continues to be popular with highwaymen and bikers alike.
3) Blue Highways, William Least-Heat Moon
Blue Highways came out after the road trip narrative fad passed in the 50s and 60s. Published in the late 1980s, it remained as a number one New York Times bestseller for over 32 weeks.
Blue Highways chronicles the 13,000 mile journey of 38-year-old William Least-Heat Moon. William separated from his wife and lost his job as a teacher before embarking on a trip across America.
While on the road, he chronicles conversations with everyone he meets, including a teenage runaway, a monk, syrup makers, saloon owners, and more.
Blue Highways is an insightful, meditative look into America’s back-roads, and a compelling read for everyone who wishes they could run away.
Ready for your own epic road trip? Two Rivers Customs restores vintage bikes, finds the best parts, and gets your ride ship-shape for the road. Contact us today!