30+ riveting road trip reads - Off the page and on the road

Many stories involve journeys, of sorts. The teen rebel who comes-of-age and gets on track after setting-out down a rocky road. Characters in crisis who change paths and embark on journeys of self-discovery in later life. And a vast number of unforgettable stories - both on screen and on the page - centre around journeys in a literal sense, none more famous than Jack Kerouac’s 1957 classic On the Road. Sal and Dean’s hedonism and lust for life certainly set the beat for generations of literary road-trip adventures. Another - but very different - classic comes courtesy of Jules Verne’s continent-hopping Around the World in Eighty Days, a journey replicated by Michael Palin in recent years.

One of my favourite present-day novels happens to be a road-trip trailblazer - Neil Gaiman’s epic American Gods. It’s a dazzling feat of fiction that melds myth, magic and real-life drama to create a thrilling phantasmagorical commentary on contemporary America.

While road trips of both the movie and literary variety usually conjure images of open road, open top journeys across America, of red deserts framed by raging scarlet sunsets, and of raggedy rebellious youngsters finding their way in the world, some contemporary delights come from colder climes, and feature very different kinds of characters, like The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. This quirky, touching, Swedish rib-tickler sees the eponymous hundred-year-old man flee his retirement home and become embroiled in a criminal adventure, during which his pivotal role in key moments of twentieth-century history is revealed with witty hilarity.

Returning to America, mention must go to one of my top non-fiction books of the year, David Reynolds’s Slow Road to San Francisco. Documenting the author’s solo coast-to-coast road trip from America’s east to west coast, this is as enlightening on American history and politics as it is amusing and warm-spirited.

A host of Young Adult novels also take to the road to great effect, among them Emery Lord’s music-fuelled tale of rocky romance, Open Road Summer, John Green’s poignant Paper Towns and Kim Culbertston’s The Wonder of Us in which a protagonist teetering towards adulthood leaves California to take a lifechanging trip around Europe.

Without further ado, we invite you to buckle up before exploring our collection of road-trip reads – a sure-fire riveting ride lies ahead.

American Gods

American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/06/2011

Headline celebrates the 10-year publication anniversary of this extraordinary novel from a storytelling genius. After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break...

eBooks of the Month
On the Road

On the Road

Author: Jack Kerouac, Ann Charters Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2018

'I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's' Bob Dylan Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero, the mystical traveller Dean Moriarty, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, this is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Author: Hunter S. Thompson Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2005

`We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive ... ' Hunter S. Thompson is roaring down the desert highway to Las Vegas with his attorney, the Samoan, to find the dark side of the American Dream. Armed with a drug arsenal of stupendous proportions, the duo engage in a surreal succession of chemically enhanced confrontations with casino operators, police officers and assorted Middle Americans. This stylish reissue of Hunter S. Thompson's iconic masterpiece, a controversial bestseller when it appeared in 1971, features the brilliant Ralph Steadman illustrations of the original. It brings to a new generation the hallucinatory humour and nightmare terror of Hunter S. Thompson's musings on the collapse of the American Dream.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Author: Tom Wolfe, Jarvis Cocker Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/05/2018

Tom Wolfe's genre-defining magical mystery tour through the 1960s published in Vintage Classics for the first time to mark its fiftieth anniversary. WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JARVIS COCKER In the summer of 1964, author Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters set out on an awesome social experiment like no other. Blazing across America in their day-glo schoolbus, doped up and deep 'in the pudding', the Pranksters' arrival on the scene - anarchic, exuberant and LSD-infused - would turn on an entire counter-culture, and provide Tom Wolfe with the perfect free-wheeling subject for this, his pioneering masterpiece of New Journalism. 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book...the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter' New York Times

The Word for Woman is Wilderness

The Word for Woman is Wilderness

Author: Abi Andrews Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/02/2018

An eye-opening novel that feels like a blistering, witty, understanding-of-self travel diary, and an insight into 19 year old Erin’s soul. Erin travels around the top of the globe to Alaska, as she wants to burst the image of the rugged male explorer. I saw the synopsis for The Word For Woman is Wilderness and just had to read it as I’ve been to Alaska, and read various books set there, including Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, based on the true story of a traveler who died while trying to live off the land. Erin has read the same books, feels the same pull by the wilderness, and she has been written so beautifully by Abi Andrews that she slipped into a state of reality in my mind. I adored travelling with Erin, she took me to familiar and sometimes entirely unexpected places. It took me a little while to settle in and feel the words, the pace, the tone. I was surprised by her observations, so pithy, so huge, so spot on, it feels at times as though her thoughts have been bottled, shaken, and then explode out of her. The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a beautifully surprising, clever, startling novel and I adored it. 

Debut Books of the Month
The Lauras

The Lauras

Author: Sara Taylor Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 |  April 2017 Book of the Month. A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. Sara Taylor placed me in the seat next to Alex, I joined this intimate, evocative journey meandering from the east to west coast of the USA, and I didn’t want it to end. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. ‘The Lauras’ is an absolute delight of a read, and it touched my heart. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to download some Reading Group questions for The Lauras.

eBooks of the Month
Dodgers

Dodgers

Author: Bill Beverly Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/12/2016

January 2017 Book of the Month. One of our Books of the Year 2016. Winner of the John Creasey (New Blood) and Goldsboro Gold Dagger Awards 2016. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer go rap! A striking literary thriller which follows the reluctant journey of East, a young ghetto kid from a world of drugs and crime in Los Angeles, across the United States on his way to a murder he must commit to prove his loyalty and gain redemption for a mistake he made back home. An old-fashioned narrative quest and road journey through the moral vacuity of America, alongside his psychopathic younger brother and other endearing junior gang members on a mission set for failure. The main protagonist's voice is both touching and engrossing, a modern version of Holden Caulfield had he been born in Compton and a generation or so later, and his itinerary both geographical and mental is a poetic as well as profane, delicate joy to behold. A character study of the highest quality as well as a thriller as addictive as crack. Without the shadow of a doubt, a book that will come to be seen as a landmark in US crime writing. Maxim Jakubowski's April 2016 Book of the Month.

Books of the Month
Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Author: Jon Krakauer Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/06/2018

A gobsmacking, heartbreaking, punch of a read. You may well have heard of Chris McCandless, he abandoned his life to live in the wilds of Alaska. There is no happy ending to be found here, and the story of his last few months left me reeling. I have been to Alaska, and spent time in Healy, which is the last small town McCandless walked through before stepping into the wilderness of Denali. Author John Krakauer took me back there, his descriptions both sing and sting, this is no theme park ride. Into the Wild transports, it is also a provocative and powerful read.

How to be Bad

How to be Bad

Author: Emily Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2015

A provocative, stimulating and ultimately heartwarming story about three girls on a weekend road trip in Florida, who develop their friendship as the miles tick by. Each chapter is written in the first person by either Jesse (don’t forget the ‘e’), Vicks or Mel. The three very different girls may decide to try a little ‘How To Be Bad’, however at heart, they are three thoughtful, affectionate and quite normal teens, experiencing the difficulties that life occasionally flings in the way and getting by as best they can. The ending rolls to a conclusion far too quickly, leaving an “I want more” feeling, hopefully another novel is on the cards. It’s fascinating to learn in the great ‘extras’ section at the end, how the three authors, Emily Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski decided to write this novel. Recommended for older teens and young adults, this collaboration most definitely works, it results in a funny, warm and fabulously quirky story. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/04/2014

One of our Books of the Year 2014. May 2014 Book of the Month. If you have read his debut, The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared then you will know the delightful, wacky style of this fellow.  Newcomers will get caught up in the easy, conversational flow which really is the most enormous fun.  Here our central character is a black girl from the slums of Soweto with a flair for numbers.  She starts her young working life as a latrine emptier, educates herself through a fluke set of circumstances and becomes as ‘assistant’ in a very secret operation that makes nuclear bombs.  How she ends up saving King Gustaf V is one of those mad coincidences of life that never really happen but make such excellent reading.  Jonasson is ace at creating odd-ball characters and we certainly meet our fair share of them here.  As mischievous as the first, spotted with actual people and real events, it is pure escapist, feel-good fun. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/2015

Surprising, deliciously quirky and amusing, this gem of a book is one to treasure. Quite literally climbing out of his window, one hundred year old Allan disappears on an adventure, but this isn't his first. Alternating between the present and the past is extremely entertaining, nothing is lost but everything gained in discovering what makes Allan, Allan! While he is one of the most captivating characters to ever appear in print, Allan accrues some truly fascinating travelling companions. You get the feeling that Jonasson really enjoyed writing this novel and let his imagination run riotous rings onto the page. This is a book for adults of any age, with a reminder that to reach a century you are likely to have some pretty remarkable stories to tell (if not quite to this level of creativity). This is most definitely a must, must read… and once you’ve read it, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden should be next on your list.  The film version of The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was released in UK cinemas on Friday 4 July 2014. Click below to view the trailer. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho Format: Paperback (b Format) Release Date: 03/01/1998

If you have only recently discovered Coelho, or if you have yet to discover this utterly brilliant and breathtaking author, who until quite recently was one of the world’s most unsung authors then jump into one of his novels right now and The Alchemist was his first. His books have such a rare quality that if you have a heart you can’t fail to be captivated.   A 2012 World Book Night selection.

Audiobooks of the Month
Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days

Author: Jules Verne Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2018

The novel was written in the 1870’s when newspapers were full of stories about the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the USA, the opening of the Suez Canal and the ability to cross India by rail. Phileas Fogg having seen this news has a bet with the members of his club that he can travel around the world in 80 daysand sets off with his valet Passepartout from London on a rainy day. A fast moving adventure that is still relevant to today’s traveller. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days

Author: Michael Palin Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/06/2009

This is Michael Palin’s first major expedition where he decided to circumnavigate the world following, as closely as possible, the route taken by Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. 28,000 miles covered and 14 countries we join Michael in his eye-opening trip as he discovers new countries and modes of transport. The tension builds as the deadline of 80 days races nearer and you’ll find yourself urging him on until the final pages. Brilliant stuff.

eBooks of the Month
The Road

The Road

Author: Cormac Mccarthy Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/01/2010

January 2012 Guest Editor Simon Lelic selects The Road...   Technically and philosophically, this is probably not McCarthy’s best book. His masterpiece, probably, is Blood Meridian – although I also love Child of God. And Outer Dark. And . . . Well, everything else McCarthy has produced. But The Road, I would say, is my favourite of his novels, if only for the devastating portrait he paints of a father’s love for his son. I must have read this novel four or five times now (I’ve seen the film, too, but only once and never again). Devastatingly simple, yet dazzling in so many ways, this is the book I wish I had written.   A 2012 World Book Night selection.   Winner of The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2007.Once in a while a book comes along that is so powerful, so terrible and so beautiful that you are left staggered at its close.  This is one such.  A journey through a devastated, post-apocalyptic America that is both frightening and strangely hopeful.  It’s not an easy read but once embarked upon, it’s hard to draw away.  Father and son share their dreadful experiences and their love.  It has just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and been chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club so it’s going to sell bucket-loads in America and deserves to do the same over here.Similar this month: None.Comparison: J G Ballard, J D Salinger.

eBooks of the Month
The Last Days of California

The Last Days of California

Author: Mary Miller Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2014

Fifteen year old Jess is waiting for the world to end. Her evangelical father has packed up the family to drive to California, hoping to save as many souls as possible before the Second Coming. With her long-suffering mother and rebellious (secretly pregnant) sister, Jess hands out tracts at every break in the journey. As Jess's belief frays, her teenage myopia evolves into awareness about her fracturing family. Selected as a Barnes & Noble Discover pick, Mary Miller's radiant debut novel reinvigorates the literary road-trip story with wry vulnerability and savage charm.

The Motel Life

The Motel Life

Author: Willy Vlautin Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2016

Opening like an early Tom Waits barstool-tale, The Motel Life tells the story of two brothers, Frank and Jerry Lee. Taking to the road in an attempt to escape the hit and run accident caused by Jerry Lee, the novel goes back to tell the story of their unhappy lives. With intense feeling and compassion, Vlautin explores the frustrations and failed dreams of the two brothers - one a natural storyteller, the other an artist - and renders perfectly the sense of entrapment they feel. Will the kid's death shock them out of their torpor or send them ever deeper into trouble? Can Annie James, a girl from their past, offer them any sort of redemption, however slim? Interspersed with drawings that come to form an integral part of the narrative, The Motel Life is a poetic, moving, beautifully naive and tragic fictional debut. Alongside such seminal works as Annie Proulx's Postcards, Raymond Carver's What we talk about when we talk about love and Denis Johnson's Jesus's Son, it should come to be seen as a classic of downbeat American prose.

The Wangs vs the World

The Wangs vs the World

Author: Jade Chang Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/06/2017

harles takes his other two children out of schools that he can no longer afford and packs them into the only car that wasn't repossessed-along with their wealth-addicted stepmother, Barbra. But with his son waylaid by a much-older temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally, finally fulfilling his dream of China.

eBooks of the Month
An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines

Author: John Green Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/05/2012

From the bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down and The Fault in Their Stars, a beautiful tale of love, loss and not so fool proof mathematic equations. When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country

Author: Matt Ruff Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/02/2019

Soon to be a new HBO Series from J.J. Abrams, Misha Green and Jordan Peele (Director of Get Out) Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George - publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide - and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite - heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus's ancestors - they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn - led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb - which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his - and the whole Turner clan's - destruction. A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism - the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

The Last Good Kiss

The Last Good Kiss

Author: James Crumley Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2016

Crumley, the much-revered US author who died in 2006 brought a new vigour to the crime novel and reinterpreted the tropes of Raymond Chandler and Ross McDonald with his disillusioned bruised masculinity and rambling sense of American disconnect. With a new introduction by an admiring Ian Rankin, THE LAST GOOD KISS is Crumley at his best, hardboiled to perfection, cynical, written like a clockwork mechanism where every sentence is quasi-perfect and boasts one of the most memorable opening sentences in the history of crime fiction. When private eye C.W. Sughrue ('as in rue the fucking day'...) catches up with Abraham Trahearne, a runaway writer on a three week binge, he also comes across his alcoholic bulldog in a California bar and the scene is set for a profane journey in search of the landlady's missing daughter that will take him to San Francisco and his own version of hell. Profane, gripping, in the shadow of the horrors of the Vietnam war and paradoxically poetic, a crime novel as fever dream and one for the ages. We can only hope Crumley's other books will soon dutifully follow in new editions. They are classics that should not be allowed to ever go out of print. Maxim Jakubowski's May 2016 Book of the Month.

eBooks of the Month
Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer

Author: Emery Lord Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2018

In a Nutshell: Road-trip, romance, fame and friendship Surely one for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, this smart coming-of-age story reels with romance, life lessons and big questions about finding your way.  Seventeen-year-olds Reagan and Dee are “friends for infinity”, but they’re also opposites: “In a fairytale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup step cousin”, Reagan remarks with characteristic wryness. While Reagan has a history of bad girl behaviour (underage drinking, court appearances and picking bad boys), Dee is a country music superstar who “acts either thirty years old, like a composed professional” or, when she’s with Reagan, “like a twelve year old”. But this summer Reagan plans to get her life back on track as she joins Dee’s first major headline tour. With both girls trying to get over broken relationships, this summer road-trip is a fresh start for them both, but their plans are immediately tainted when a magazine runs a salacious story about Dee. Enter Matt Finch, Dee’s wholesome label-mate. He’s invited to join her tour as a ploy to shift press attention from the alleged “scandal” to speculation that there might be something between him and Dee. The truth is, it’s Reagan who falls for Matt, with his understated handsomeness and a straight-talking vibe she totally relates to. As their romance ignites with electrifying passion, there’s a rocky road ahead for all three as further salacious allegations are made and various mounting pressures threaten friendships and burgeoning romance.  The music tour set-up makes this an entertaining escapist page-turner, with the relatable real-life conundrums and dramas providing thought-provoking profundity – the essential ingredients of a rollicking summer read.

eBooks of the Month
Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Author: John Green Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/12/2013

Award winning author John Green’s fresh-voiced novel is an utterly gripping story that gives a roller-coaster, unputdownable read. Strongly set with all the details of life in high school, at its heart is the powerful relationship between Quentin and Margo, two kids who first met at 2 years old. Quentin, or Q as he is known, tells the story of how, after being driven in different directions by their reactions to a shocking experience when they are nine, the two operate in adjacent but separate spheres at school. Q never loses his obsession for Margo and so, when she goes missing, it is no surprise that he has to follow and find her.

eBooks of the Month
The Wonder of Us

The Wonder of Us

Author: Kim Culbertson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/05/2018

In a Nutshell: Rollercoaster road trip, relationships and forging fresh paths  Brimming with coming-of-age dilemmas, romance and tonnes of transformative on-the-road experiences, this is an ideal summer read for fans of friendship-driven contemporary YA.  Introverted history fanatic Abby has had it with feeling abandoned, what with Mom having left the family home and best friend Riya leaving their Californian hometown for Berlin. Moreover, she and Riya parted on bad terms and life hasn’t been the same since. But now, thanks to Riya’s grandmother, they have an opportunity to fix their fractured friendship during a two-week trip around Europe. Being chaperoned by Riya’s cousin is initially annoying, but he and Abby find themselves bonding while things run less smoothly for her and Riya. Matters come to a head in Edinburgh when Riya’s secret is revealed, and the eruptions they experience in Iceland aren’t only of a volcanic nature… “Funny how life has a few of those visible moments, where you can actually see someone turn a corner,” Abby observes, which captures the heart of this novel. Growing up can suck - people evolve, they move, they move on, but that doesn’t mean a friendship has to end, and it doesn’t mean you’re left behind. 

eBooks of the Month
Mosquitoland

Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/09/2015

When her parents unexpectedly divorce, Mim Malone is dragged from her beloved home in Ohio to the 'wastelands' of Mississippi, where she lives in a haze of medication with her dad and new (almost certainly evil) stepmom. But when Mim learns her real mother is ill back home, she escapes her new life and embarks on a rescue mission aboard a Greyhound bus, meeting an assortment of quirky characters along the way. And when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

eBooks of the Month
Slow Road to San Francisco

Slow Road to San Francisco

Author: David Reynolds Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

“Forty-six days, thirteen states, 3000 miles”. Documenting the author’s solo coast-to-coast road-trip across America, David Reynolds’s Slow Road to San Francisco is an absolute joy. An entertaining blend of observation and commentary delivered with a luminous lightness of touch. Buckle up for read that’s radiant with the author’s wit, charm and keen eye for people and place - everything you’d want from an on-the-road companion.  Beginning on the Atlantic Coast and winding up on San Francisco’s Pacific Coast - “because Europeans landed on the east coast of the landmass that they named America, and moved slowly west until they reached the other side” - the author’s journey across Route 50 documents edifying encounters that reveal as much about America and the world as they do about the individuals themselves. Though Route 50 is known as the loneliest road in America (and it’s one of the few remaining two-lane highways in the country), Reynolds is never short of people to talk to. Through conversations with bartenders, gas station attendants and motel staff, and the assorted personalities he meets in bars, cafés and museums along the route (among them war veterans, judges and friendly bikers), it truly feels like you’re on the road with him. Peeling back layers of Native American history, slave history and contemporary politics (everyone the author meets has something to say about Trump, and often Brexit too), usually with a glass of IPA to hand, this is life-affirming, enlightening stuff. Perhaps what stands out above all else is a generosity of spirit, both on the part of the people who freely share their time, opinions and tables with Reynolds, and on the part of the author himself. Like all the best road-trips, I didn’t want this ride to end.

Star Books
Notes from A Small Island

Notes from A Small Island

Author: Bill Bryson Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/07/2015

His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy; place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells; people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and 'Ooh lovely' at the sight of a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits; and Gardeners' Question Time. Notes from a Small Island was a huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, and has become the nation's most loved book about Britain, going on to sell over two million copies.

eBooks of the Month
The Road to Little Dribbling More Notes from a Small Island

The Road to Little Dribbling More Notes from a Small Island

Author: Bill Bryson Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2016

Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation's heart and became the bestselling travel book ever, and was also voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain. Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed.

eBooks of the Month
Once Upon a Time in the West...Country

Once Upon a Time in the West...Country

Author: Tony Hawks Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/03/2015

You can take the man out of the city, but is the countryside ready for him? Comedian and born and bred townie, Tony Hawks is not afraid of a challenge - or indeed a good bet. He's hitchhiked round Ireland with a fridge and taken on the Moldovan football team at tennis, one by one. Now the time has come for his greatest gamble yet - turning his back on comfortable city life to move to the wilds of the West Country. With his partner Fran in tow and their first child on the way, he embraces the rituals of village life with often absurd and hilarious results, introducing us to an ensemble of eclectic characters along the way. One minute he's taking part in a calamitous tractor run, the next he's chairing a village meeting, but of course he still finds time for one last solo adventure before fatherhood arrives - cycling coast to coast with a mini pig called Titch. In the epic battle of man vs countryside, who will win out?

eBooks of the Month
Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

Author: Tony Hawks Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/07/2007

'All I knew about Moldova were the names of eleven men printed on the inside back pages of my newspaper. None of them sounded to me like they were any good at tennis ...' An eccentric wager finds Tony Hawks, a man who loves an unusual challenge, bound for the little-known Eastern European state of Moldova. His mission: to track down members of the country's football team and persuade them to play him at tennis. The bizarre quest ultimately has little to do with tennis or football, but instead turns into an extraordinary journey involving the Moldovan underworld, gypsies, chronic power shortages, near kidnap, and a surprisingly tender relationship with his host family. Follow the fortunes of Tony in this hilarious and often moving adventure as it takes him from Moldova, onwards to Northern Ireland, leading to an exciting denouement in Nazareth - and the naked truth of the bet's final outcome ...

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

Author: Julietta Henderson Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Our May 2021 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is one of the most squeezable and loveable books going, yet it comes with sharp and poignant notes as well as a dancing wit and humour. Norman’s best friend and comedy partner dies before they turn 12, in his grief Norman decides he’s going to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, and his mum Sadie is determined to help him. The focus here is on family and the many different forms it can take. Chapters are headed by either Norman or Sadie, each has the most wonderfully distinctive voice. Julietta Henderson has created a cast of beautifully individual characters, they walk off the page, with little snippets of information filling in their spirit and letting you see who they truly are. Norman is a complete joy to get to know, he entered my heart and let me see with fresh eyes. There is an exquisite balance here, between heartache and warmth, piercing and diverting, amusing and engaging. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman proclaims that empathy and kindness are winning combinations and is completely gorgeous in every way. This LoveReading Star Book is an absolute delight of a debut, it will be one of my highlights of the year.

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