12 Literary Road Trips In A Single Map
by TeachThought Staff
Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez over at atlasobscura recently shared a map you might want to take a look at.
The map–and its hand-typed notes–represent an enormous effort, and the selections themselves some mighty fine taste in recent literature. There are over 1500 entries on the map, with map coordinates for the lifelong learner in you yearning for a last-minute summer road trip.
This would make a great model for an English-Language Arts, Literature, Geography, or US History class project. Change the reading list, add a little Google Maps, differentiate it by reading level, or even offer scaffolded prompts of varying complexity, and you’ve got yourself a unit.
From the atlasobscura site, the novel list is shown below.
Extraordinary! 12 Literary Road Trips In A Single Map
“Wild, Cheryl Strayed. 2012. After a series of personal crises, the author hits the Pacific Crest Trail and walks from Southern California to Portland. Self-actualization ensues.
The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, F. Scott Fitzgerald. 1934. Scott and Zelda’s wacky adventures along the muddy, unkept roads of the mid-Atlantic and the South, as they drive from Connecticut to her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama.
Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes, Ted Conover.1984. Conover, our most accomplished method journalist, studies with a merciful lack of sentimentality a subculture of transients that has long been mourned and romanticized more than it has been loved or even tolerated.
A Walk Across America, Peter Jenkins. 1979. Jenkins and his dog Cooper hoof it to New Orleans from upstate New York; along the way they encounter poverty, racism, hippies, illness, hateful cops and—at least for one of them—violent vehicular death. Oh, and in Mobile, Alabama, God.
Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, Robert Sullivan. 2006. As much a free-association history of the American road trip as the chronicle of one in particular, Sullivan’s book is rare in that it documents a time-restricted straight-shot across the continent, interstates and chain-motels and all. Abandon nostalgia, all ye who enter here.
The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson. 1989. A sneering account of this exile’s return from abroad and his re-acquaintance with his native country. Bryson seems to be reminded on almost every page of why he chose to leave it, and we of why we let him.
Blue Highways: A Journey into America, William Least Heat Moon. 1982. Not less critical of America and Americans than Bryson but more interestingly so, the author takes his van on the road for three months after separating from his wife and sticks only to smaller highways while avoiding the cities. He has long debates about local history and current affairs with people on the road and pays especial attention to quirky place-names–a traveler after my own heart.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac. 1957. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty search for bop, kicks, speed and the night.
Roughing It, Mark Twain. 1872. Twain’s book about his journey west by stagecoach a decade earlier is a incredible account of transcontinental travel before the railroad made it infinitely easier; his sections about the early Mormons in Salt Lake City, the mining settlements in Nevada and the pre-Americanized Sandwich Islands–aka, Hawaii–are also well worth the read.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig. 1974. The author and his son ride by motorcycle to California; Profound Philosophical Ruminations ensue. Very 1970s.
Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck. 1962. The aging novelist, his black-poodle pooch and Rocinante, the customized van named after Don Quixote’s horse, light out for the territories; Charley discovers redwoods, which depress him; Steinbeck discovers that you can’t go home again.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe. 1968. Ken Kesey and the highly-acidic Merry Pranksters take the bus Further across the country to “tootle” its citizens out of lethargy. Neal Cassady rides again.”
12 Literary Road Trips In A Single Map