A couple of good books to take on your next roadtrip


The road has inspired generations upon generations of storytellers, most famously the American beat generation.
But there are great books to take on a roadtrip other than the American classics. What other books will make a good companion for lone nights under the stars? Read on to find out.
Note: No convenient amazon links in here. Do yourself and your community a favour and pick up these books at your local bookstore (in Germany, the US  or the UK).

1. A book from the country you are traveling in
One of the greatest joys of travel is to experience the literature of another country that you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered. Books are a way into the soul of a society. So swing on over to the first bookshop you find and grab whatever looks interesting.

2. The Odyssey by Homer
Before you call anything epic or an adventure check what the ancient greeks were up to.
“A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”

3. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
At its heart are three friends on a search for something lost. What develops from there is a magic realist firework of sex and intellect, adventure and poetry.
“I kept having dreams all night. I thought they were touching me with their fingers. But dreams don't have fingers, they have fists, so it must have been scorpions.”

4. The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto "Che" Guevara
If it comes to personal transformation through travel, eat pray love is hardly the story people should look to. Che Guevara starts on his 8,000 kilometres road trip as a Upper-middle-class medical-student and ends it as the Marxist revolutionary that students all over the world love so dearly. A roadtrip that changed him and ultimately the world
“The first commandment for every good explorer is that an expedition has two points: the point of departure and the point of arrival. If your intention is to make the second theoretical point coincide with the actual point of arrival, don't think about the means -- because the journey is a virtual space that finishes when it finishes, and there are as many means as there are different ways of 'finishing.' That is to say, the means are endless.”

5. Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
Personally I love reading essay collection, both at home or on the road. They provide food for thought and relatively short readings. This book strings together literature, photography and travel writing by one of the most interesting minds of our time. Cole is able to connect the innermost personal to the grand societal questions of our time with an almost frightening ease.
“This book contains what I have loved and witnessed, what has seemed right and what has brought joy, what I have been troubled and encouraged by, and what has fostered my sense of possibility and made me feel, as Seamus Heaney wrote, like “a hurry through which known and strange things pass”.

6. A Way of Being Free by Ben Okri
Another collection of essays, this time around the topic of freedom. Okris prose is poetic and precise at the same time. Inadvertently every book on travel and road trips becomes about freedom and few writers handle the topic in such a varied and interesting way as Okri does.
“There are many ways to die, but not all of them have to do with extinction. Lot of them have to do with living. Living many lies. Living without asking questions. Living in the cave of your prejudices. Living the life imposed on you, the dreams and codes of your ancestors.”

7. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
It’s slim appearance and simple prose deceive how dense this book is in meaning. It makes for a quick read. If you feel like embarking on the spiritual kind of roadtrip then you should not miss a short introduction into Buddhism.
“When someone seeks," said Siddhartha, "then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”

8. The American Classics
They have to appear on this list. There is a reason why Kerouacs on the road is such a widely celebrated book. It’s a fever dream, a wild celebration of life and freedom. Like Bob Dylan pointed out it changed his life like it changed everyone else’s. Other US American writers did no less of a job of capturing the quintessential American experience. Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez at Atlas Obscura did a great job of compiling the classics of American road trip literature in an obsessively detailed map that is worth checking out .
"Dean: “Sal, we’ve got to go and never stop ’til we get there.” Sal: “Where are we going to go?” Dean: “I don’t know, but we can't stop ’til we get there.”


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