2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Tripping Through the Pages

Linda Stevens
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Road trip

Linda Stevens from Harris County Public Library shares "road trip" adventures through some of her favorite books. (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons: Islay Road: Sabrina Somalo Bonini)

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Road tripping, that is.

This time of year always has me thinking about journeys. So many of us are on the road, headed home or somewhere new – and if we’re not on the road, we’re probably daydreaming about going somewhere else.

One of my favorite books is Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. It tells the story of Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, taking a road trip from Maine across America to the Pacific Northwest, through the West into the Deep South, and back up to New York in 1960 in a pickup truck with a camper. He painted a vivid picture of the people he met and though it ends on a sorrowful note, I appreciate the journey. I will always remember his description of little Ruby Bridges in New Orleans in her white dress, starting to skip and being brought down to earth by the oppressive weight of the hatred of those around her.

If you prefer to read about a more lighthearted tour, Bill Bryson also travels across America in The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, but his focus is on finding humor in history, geography and culture. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes takes us on a very awkward road trip to Scotland with a struggling single mom trying to get her daughter to a math competition, forced to accept a ride from a geeky software tycoon to drive her family to their destination. The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang is a very funny novel that follows the Wang family on a madcap journey to move in with their eldest daughter after losing their cosmetics empire to bankruptcy.

Sometimes the best reading road trips are in places largely imaginary. Fantasy literature is full of journeys, both physical and psychological, from the long walks of Tolkien’s The Hobbit to Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass and Shadow’s journey in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. These are the books that I not only read, but re-read.

I’m sure I’ve missed many favorites! Any literary road trips you’d recommend?

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