We love when a good book transports us to some far-off destination, but every so often, we appreciate a reminder of what we have right in our backyard. Here, a few of our favorite American reads that stay close to home—while still transporting us to another time or era.
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
This classic American novel, written by one of the Beat Movement’s most famous writers, is a must-read for any road-tripper. The story delves into 1950’s American culture through the (often-distorted) viewpoint of Sal Paradise, a bohemian New York writer who follows the manic Dean Moriarty on a cross-country adventure.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection, simple living and self-sufficiency. Walden details his personal journey for self-reliance, but also provides an intimate portrait of the New England woodlands where he spent two years.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
In the last years of his life, this beloved American author traveled the country to experience the landscapes and people that his books had made vivid for so many readers over the years. With his poodle Charley and a custom-built camper named Rocinante, Steinbeck covered more that 10,000 miles on his journey through 1960s America.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild documents the true (and tragic) story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, whose solitary life spent hitchhiking and exploring the U.S. and Canada eventually caused his death from starvation in 1992. Krakauer weaves the tragic tale with expansive and, ultimately, harsh descriptions of the wilderness.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Beginning with the iconic first line “Call me Ishmael,” this Great American Novel follows the wandering sailor unwittingly involved in Captain Ahab’s vengeful search for the titular whale. While the story may appear simple at first, Melville’s skillful use of symbolism and metaphor explores the concepts of class, social status and the existence of God while offering an authentic look at everyday life aboard a 1850s whaling ship.
What travel books have caught your eye? Tell us in the comments or email us at email@example.com with your favorite wanderlust-inspiring books.