Anyone who has taken a road trip knows that after a few hours in the car or RV, there simply isn’t enough music in the known universe to keep you entertained for more than a few hours. Fortunately for you travelers out there, you won’t be forced to stare out the window and wonder how much longer?
Technology has given us the ability to bring the world with us to just about anywhere we go, but sometimes a screen gets old. If you’ve heard the entire top 40, browsed through six months of your Facebook timeline, or exhausted every possible topic of conversation with your traveler partners (you’ve got to save something for the rest of the trip, you know), then keep reading this post, and bring one or all of our road trip book recommendations with you!
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Including Jon Krakauer on this list wasn’t a tough decision, deciding which book to include was. If you’re a fan of reading and adventure, chances are you’ve either read or seen Into the Wild, so we decided to highlight another one of Krakauer’s masterpieces (if you aren’t familiar with Into the Wild, add it to your list as well!).
Into Thin Air is a retelling of a disaster that Jon was involved in while attempting to summit Mount Everest. A freak storm caught everyone scaling Mount Everest off-guard in May of 1996 and some of the most skilled individuals in mountaineering lost their lives. The book gives a chilling account of what it’s like to hike the tallest mountain in the world, during the worst weather imaginable.
A unique aspect of Into Thin Air is that it starts long before they are near the summit, and gives an in-depth account of the journey through Nepal to Mount Everest, grim details and all.
The book also includes photos from the expedition that put faces to the names and concrete images of the places described in the book, creating a truly complete adventure. Although the book recounts a tragedy, it is an inspiring affront to what the human body can overcome in the face of hardship and a tribute to those that lost their lives.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
For those who have read this story, it is considered one of the great adventure novels of the 19th century. Originally written in the 1840s by a French author, it has since been translated into English and deemed a literary classic.
Edmond Dantes is a sailor who is falsely accused of treason against the French government after meeting with the then-excommunicated Napoleon Bonaparte on the Isle of Elba. Edmond is then exiled to the harshest prison in 19th century France, the Chateau d’If. Back in Marseille, where Edmond lived, he left behind his fiancé, ailing father, and the three men who conspired against him. What follows is an unforgettable tale of redemption and revenge.
Dantes miraculously escapes the prison with the help of a priest who has been labeled insane and goes on to acquire an unthinkable fortune of hidden gold and jewels. After he uncovers the treasures on the Isle of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes sets out for vengeance against those who created his misery and showers those who have been faithful to him with amazing wealth.
There are many versions, but if you are looking for the abridged book (the original is over a thousand pages) we recommend the Bantam Classics edition.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway’s books are fantastic for a road trip because they are easy to read but tell magnificent stories.
In a famous feud between William Faulkner and Hemingway, Faulkner said that “[Hemingway] has never been known to use a word that might cause the reader to check with a dictionary”. But, Hemingway was talented enough to create a great story in The Old Man and the Sea without the complexities of other writers.
This book relays the tale of an old Cuban fisherman who has hit a dry spell on the water, and one day decides to go as far out from shore as possible to reel in a monster. With the help of a boy on the island, he manages to get all the necessary equipment for his endeavor and sets off early one morning. There, in the open ocean, he hooks what certainly will be a catch for the ages. The battle rages for days between man and beast, and a fantastic story is an outcome.
The Endurance by Caroline Alexander
Another book that’s in the same vein as Into Thin Air, Caroline Alexander delivers a fantastic tale of disaster and human resilience. In an age of exploration, this book recounts how Ernest Shackleton wound up in the middle of a fight for survival in his quest to reach the South Pole and cross Antarctica.
The expedition took place in the South Atlantic right before the outbreak of the First World War and culminates in Ernest and his 27 crew members becoming trapped in ice floes for nearly two years. From first-hand sources, we can get a look into what it’s like to be trapped 85 miles from the South Pole with dwindling resources and little to do but wait until the ice thaws enough to make a rescue attempt.
Photos have been salvaged from the expedition, which adds another layer of intrigue to this fateful journey.
How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
A quick Google search will pull up a mass of books to take on a road trip, but unfortunately, the same ten books are on all of them. As a bonus, we decided on a book that may not be getting the attention it deserves.
This is a fascinating book that gives the history of the borders we see squiggled across the map of the United States and was later adapted into a popular TV show on the History Channel.
If you’re road-tripping across the lower 48, you can share some interesting facts with your travel partners about each of the borders you’re passing over. From the Mason-Dixon line (that sounds familiar, right?) to the acquisition of Hawai’i, this book will leave you a little more knowledgeable about how the 50 states became the states we see today.
Summary: Books to Read on an RV Trip
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of new books published every day. It would be impossible to read even a fraction of the great books that have been written, but here we hope to give you some direction.
The hardest part of reading is finding your next book, but these five books are sure to grip you from beginning to end. Whether you’re looking for action and adventure, a classic, or deeper knowledge of the ground you’re RV is driving over, this list has something for you. If we missed a book that you love, share it with us and our fellow readers. Happy reading!