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6 Great Literary Road Trips

Seeking a read to inspire your next vacation? Look no further! We’ve created a list of six literary road trips that are sure to pass the travel bug along to you and your reading group. Starting with Roland Merullo’s latest novel The Delight of Being Ordinary, a life-affirming read that follows the Pope and the Dalai Lama as they embark on an adventure through the Italian countryside, our list covers a wide range of books about hitting the road. From a post-apocalyptic caravan through the States, to a drug-addled journey in search of the American dream, these literary road trips will give you plenty of wanderlust.

The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo

A thrilling book, a rip-roaring, risk-taking literary tour de force that kept me up late and moved me deeply. . . . In this ultimate celebrity road trip, Merullo has written a love story for our times.”  —Susan Cheever, author of Home Before Dark

What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama decide they need a secret vacation?

Roland Merullo’s playful, eloquent, and life-affirming novel finds the world’s two holiest men teaming up for an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countryside—where they rediscover the everyday joys and challenges of ordinary life.

Part whimsical expedition, part love story, part spiritual search, this uplifting novel brings warmth and laughter to the universal concerns of family life, religious inspiration, and personal identity—all of which combine to transcend cultural and political barriers in the name of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

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Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson

“Brilliant, funny, astonishing.” —The New York Times Book Review

Adapted into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon, Anywhere but Here is the heart-rending tale of a mother and daughter. A moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer, the novel follows the two women as they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions. A brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation, Anywhere but Here is a story about the things we do for love, and a powerful study of familial bonds.

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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“Intensely lyrical and wildly funny.” —Time

Awe and exhilaration—along with heartbreak and mordant wit—abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hyper-civilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love—love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

This cult classic of gonzo journalism is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

“Tender and lovely. . . . Equal parts page-turner and poem.” —Entertainment Weekly

Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

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Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

“A picaresque adventure and spiritual coming-of-age tale—On the Road crossed with Henderson the Rain King. . . . Deeply affecting.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Josie and her children’s father have split up, she’s been sued by a former patient and lost her dental practice, and she’s grieving the death of a young man senselessly killed shortly after enlisting. When her ex asks to take the children to meet his new fiancée’s family, Josie makes a run for it to Alaska with her kids, Paul and Ana. At first their trip feels like a vacation: they see bears and bison, they eat hot dogs cooked on a bonfire, and they spend nights parked along icy-cold rivers in dark forests. But as they drive in their rattling old RV, pushed north by the ubiquitous wildfires, Josie is chased by enemies both real and imagined, and past mistakes pursue her tiny family, even to the very edge of civilization. A captivating, often hilarious novel of family, loss, wilderness, and the curse of a violent America, Heroes of the Frontier is a powerful examination of our contemporary life and a rousing story of adventure.

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