Beyond "On the Road"
June 12, 2016 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Looking for fiction and nonfiction about road trips. Ideally the narrative would be 80% about the journey rather than the destination, but that's not a hard rule.

Cars over motorcycles, please. But also just the experience of driving, so something like the podcast "Alice Isn't Dead" works for me. I'll take all suggestions from classics to unknown.
posted by book 'em dano to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Travels with Charley by Steinbeck
posted by coppermoss at 1:06 PM on June 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" is a hilarious classic. No cars or motorcycles, and it's over a century old, but it's great.
posted by easily confused at 1:09 PM on June 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a classic of the genre. It does contain a motorcycle, however...
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:44 PM on June 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Breakfast with Buddha was a great read and, for some, a life-changing book.
posted by DrGail at 1:50 PM on June 12, 2016

Farewell to Model T and Sea to Shining Sea by E.B. White should fit what you're looking for.

A bit further afield, and I haven't read it yet, but "Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita,” by Robert Roper is a biography of Nabokov that focuses on how his long road trips through America influenced his writing. See this NYT piece also.
posted by permiechickie at 2:02 PM on June 12, 2016

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
posted by speakeasy at 2:32 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Henry Miller's Air Conditioned Nightmare has some road-tripping.
posted by Rash at 2:36 PM on June 12, 2016

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Not driving of course, but Homer's The Odyssey for a real classic journey?
posted by zachlipton at 3:45 PM on June 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

A road trip is one of the plot lines of Fear of Flying.
posted by brujita at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2016

Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz
posted by mosk at 4:00 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:07 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Lethem, Amnesia Moon.
posted by miles per flower at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2016

The most recent road trip book I read was Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn. It was really good. It's about two elderly women in a memory care facility (for people with Alzheimer's) who escape and go on a cross-country road trip. I know I t sounds like it could be a twee-fest, but the way the author handles it, it isn't like that at all.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2016

Road Fever by Tim Cahill. It may be more like 60% road trip, but - it's Cahill's story of the time he was half of a two-man team trying to set the Guinness record for fastest journey on the Pan-American highway. There is a point about halfway through the book - and halfway through their journey - where both of them suddenly lose it somewhere in the middle of Panama that still cracks me up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2016

Road Fever by Tim Cahill. One of the funniest road trip books I've ever read. (and non-fiction)
posted by jessamyn at 7:02 PM on June 12, 2016

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis is a wonderful travel novel that offers a look of what road travel was like before highways. Also, the Librivox recording is a great listen.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 7:37 PM on June 12, 2016

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. It's a big road trip all over small town America looking for the perfect small town. Very funny.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:50 PM on June 12, 2016

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is a graphic novel about two guys who take a cross-country road trip and fall in love. They drive from Berkeley CA to Providence RI and manage to avoid getting lost in the usual morass of Route 66 nostalgia. It's chock full of lovingly rendered scenery, organic dialogue and time-period specific popculture references. It's also NSFW but sex is not the focus of the work.
posted by contemporarySlob at 8:31 PM on June 12, 2016

To the Vanishing Point - Alan Dean Foster
From Publishers Weekly
Picking up a hitchhiker changes the Las Vegas-bound vacation of sporting-goods executive Frank Sonderberg and family into yet another of Foster's ( Into the Out Of ) quests to save the world. Their guest is a slight, lavender-eyed woman called "Mouse" who claims to be 4000 years old and is on her way to the Vanishing Point, where she must regulate the spinner that weaves the fabric of existence. If she fails, evil and chaos will reign supreme. The Sonderbergs get a glimpse of the possible result when their mobile home wanders into such alternate worlds as a postholocaust Utah, a fire-and-brimstone burg called "Hades Junction" and alien Pass Regulusa glitzy but incomprehensible version of Las Vegas. The noble Sonderbergs are a dull bunch, but Foster keeps this jaunt entertaining with his fantasy exaggerations of road stops at unknown towns, intriguing turnoffs and dubious diners.
Uh, motorhome not car.
posted by Mitheral at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2016

In I See By My Outfit by Peter S. Beagle (author of The Last Unicorn), he and his friend take a coast-to-coast road trip entirely on god damn SCOOTERS.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:50 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

In a way, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is about a road trip, and HST writes much about his reflections -- perceptually altered as they may have been -- on the journey.
posted by Gelatin at 5:53 AM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't remember much about it, but I think Charles Portis's The Dog of the South would work.
posted by jabes at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2016

Fantastic, thank you all!
posted by book 'em dano at 1:19 PM on June 13, 2016

'Earthly Possessions' - Anne Tyler
posted by h00py at 9:17 PM on June 13, 2016

rocket city
posted by j_curiouser at 10:44 AM on June 15, 2016

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