Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break Here We Come!

Tomorrow we impersonate Jack Kerouac and embark on a road trip encompassing 10 days of travel, over 2000 miles, 6 states and 1 District. In honor of our massive road trip, I’m highlighting several road trip/travel/adventure books to encourage you to hit the road!

On the Road
Jack Kerouac (Author)



I read this years ago, and at the time wondered, "what is the big deal about this book?" I always seem to have that feeling about books you are "suppose to read." It is a classic, however, I'm still not sure why. From Amazon: "On The Road...now recognized as a modern classic, its American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than Scott Fitzgerald, and it goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion."

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo



Can you imagine GWB or Bill Clinton leaving the White House in a Buick?? This looks great! I need to read it soon!

From Publishers Weekly
Public radio reporter Algeo (Last Team Standing) brings the 1950s into focus with a fascinating reconstruction of Harry and Bess Truman's postpresidential 2,500-mile road trip. I like to take trips—any kind of trip, Truman wrote. They are about the only recreation I have besides reading. Between 2006 and 2008, Algeo retraced their journey with stopovers at some of the same diners and hotels the couple visited. When Truman left the White House in 1953, he returned to Independence, Mo., rejecting lucrative offers he felt would commercialize the presidency. His only income was a small army pension. Acquiring a 1953 Chrysler, the Trumans set out with no fanfare and a curious notion of traveling incognito. However, reporters and newsreel cameras soon turned their vehicular vacation into an ongoing media event. The book benefits from extensive research through oral history interviews and papers at the Harry S. Truman Library, and Algeo's own interviews with eyewitnesses. With deliberate detours, this book is a portal into the past with layers of details providing unusual authenticity and a portrait of the president as an ordinary man.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls



Probably not marketed as a travel book, the Walls family spends as much time traveling in their car as the do in a permanent residence. I loved this book.

Amazon.com Review
Jeannette Walls's father always called her "Mountain Goat" and there's perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents--Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls's childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls' removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents' knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them--despite their overwhelming self-absorption--resonates from cover to cover.


Down the Nile by Rosemary Mahoney


Another "to be read" that has languished on my Goodreads list. I pass it often on the biography shelf at the library when I'm shelving. Haven't yet grabbed it off it's perch.

From Publishers Weekly
This is travel writing at its most enjoyable: the reader is taken on a great trip with an erudite travel companion soaking up scads of history, culture and literary knowledge, along with the scenery. The genesis for the trip is simple: the author's love of rowing. Her plan, "to buy a small Egyptian rowboat and row myself along the 120-mile stretch of river between the cities of Aswan and Qena," is less so. Mahoney (The Singular Pilgrim; Whoredom in Kimmage) conveys readers along the longest river in the world, through narrative laced with insight, goodwill and sometimes sadness. Mahoney's writing style is conversational, her use of metaphor adept. She cleverly marshals the writings of numerous river travelers but focuses on "two troubled geniuses": Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert. The device allows readers a backward glance at the Edwardian travel accoutrements of sumptuous riverside dinners, staggering supplies of alcohol and food, trunks of books and commodious accommodations. The physical environment is demanding. "When I removed my hat, the sun had made the top of my head sting... it was like having a freshly baked nail driven into one's skull." Yet her biggest obstacle isn't the climate but the slippery hurdles of culture and sex. Whether struggling to buy a boat, visiting historic Luxor or rowing, innocent encounters become sticky psychological and philosophical snares. Still, the ride is smooth, leaving the reader wishing for more nautical miles.


Route 66: The Mother Road by Michael Wallis


My heart is tied to The Mother Road. Both sets of my grandparents had business that thrived along Route 66. One of my favorite activites was waiting on the Greyhound bus to arrive at my grandmother's drug store and gift shop. I learned to drive on some of the old, unused portions of this mythical road. One of my favorite "coffee-table" books and authors.

From Amazon:
America's Main Street is celebration, Michael Wallis hit the road again, revisiting people and places that made the Mother Road on American icon, and uncovering new treasures. A love letter and a tribute, Route 66: The Mother Road takes us on an unforgettable journey through the secret corners and hidden towns of America's most famous and beloved highway.

I will be checking in and posting along our massive journey. We have plenty of DVDs and audio books to occupy our time along the way. I have The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins to keep me company too!! I may be the only person left who hasn't read these.

Bon Voyage!