Every morning I have an English muffin drenched in butter and a cup of coffee for breakfast. I love it. It makes me feel good. But when I travel, when I leave my house—holy moly—there are other things to eat for breakfast! This is what summer is about: trippin’ on the new and shocking your senses with places, foods and people you’ve never experienced before. Summer trips make us feel young, healthy, alive! (Look at me, look at me, I’m eating rocky mountain oysters in Idaho! Who’d a thunk?!)
Here are six great summer trippin’ books. Don’t feel guilty if you never leave your house and instead trip from your armchair (in the spirit of of Anne Tyler’s Macon Leary). Even a trip of the mind is worth taking.
“50 Great American Places,” by Brent D. Glass.
No matter how old or young you are, or whether or not you’re schlepping kids with you on your summer trip, this is the book to shove in the glove box of your car (with those never-used old maps!). Pop it out every morning and fill your mind with Glass’ meaty, juicy stories about some of the most interesting places in America. Glass hits everything from Pearl Harbor to the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank to the B and O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.
“Where to Eat Pizza,” Phaidon.
Are there people who don’t like pizza? I haven’t met them yet, though they probably have a chat room online where they regularly meet. But you, my friend, you love pizza. And you’re trippin’ this summer, right? Let this book be your Bible! “Where to Eat Pizza” gives you the best pizza all over the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, pizza will be there.
“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” by William Finnegan.
Because I’m from California and I love surfers and surfing, no summer trip would be complete without at least one stop at a surf beach and one read through a surf book. In Barbarian Days, Finnegan chronicles his travels to beaches all across the world. This is a beautifully written, smart memoir; the best surfing book I’ve ever read. Finnegan’s story is not just about surfing, however—he covers everything from coming-of-age, to love, friendship and aging.
“Trespassing Across America,” by Ken Ilgunas.
This may have started out as an environmental journey—Ilgunas walked the Keystone XL Pipline from Alberta, Canada to Texas, but what Ilgunas found along the way is the great stuff most of us find on epic voyages: quirky, unique and bizarre characters who ultimately give us hope that the world is made up of good and kind people.
“Dodgers,” by Bill Beverly.
This is gripping, riveting fiction—the book you can’t wait to read when you tuck into those crunchy sheets at your roadside motel, the lights of passing trucks lighting up your room and then vanishing. “Dodgers” follows the road trip of an L.A. gang member named East, who’s never been out of his East L.A. neighborhood. In a van with three other guys, East travels across America with one eye on the new and startling scenery, and the other on his dangerous and unreliable companions. This is one trip you’ll be happy to take from the safety of your bed.
“The Passenger,” by Lisa Lutz.
One road trippin’ game I like to play is called “On the Lam.” You pretend you’re running from something and that everyone you encounter—that woman chewing gum and slowly ringing up your Coke Zero at the gas station—is really out to get you. “The Passenger” plays just that game, only better than I could ever imagine. On a thrilling, nail-biting, tense journey that crisscrosses the U.S., our narrator changes names as often as she changes her hair color. Fasten your seatbelt and hope for an airbag, cause this book zooms along to a wild, crashing end.