By Kathleen Uy, Librarian I (Adult & Teen Service) Montgomery County Public Libraries, White Oak Library
The pandemic of the last two years had many people canceling or curtailing their travel plans. Now in 2022 after a lifting of many travel restrictions, the travel industry is optimistic that this will be the year their business will pick back up. For those of us who are not quite ready to embark on new travel adventures, we offer here a few reading recommendations so you can experience traveling while sitting in your favorite comfy chair.
Travels with Charley
By John Steinbeck
One of the most famous travel books is “Travels with Charley: in search of America” by John Steinbeck. This book depicts a road trip that Steinbeck took with his standard poodle Charley in 1960. Although this book was published in 1962, many of the topics it broaches makes it as relevant today as it was back then. Steinbeck, who had lived in New York, decided he needed to reconnect with the America he had written about for decades. In this book he covered almost 10,000 miles that took him clear across the United States. His beautiful descriptions of Montana are particularly noteworthy.
But Steinbeck also encountered ugly truths about America when he writes about the overt racism in response to the civil rights movement, rampant consumerism, pollution and poverty. Conversations about the Cold War and how the president should be dealing with Russia will seem very familiar to today’s readers. An introduction to the 50th anniversary edition (2012) of the book cautioned readers that “it would be a mistake to take this travelogue too literally, as Steinbeck was at heart a novelist.” Nevertheless, the book is considered a true reflection of America at that time.
The Lost City of the Monkey God
By Douglas Preston
Recounts an expedition that Preston joined in search of the legendary Ciudad Blanca (“The White City”) deep in the jungles of Honduras. Particularly interesting is the overview of the indigenous tribes who fled to escape Spanish invaders who brought death.
By Candacy Taylor
The history of the Green Book, which listed hotels and, restaurants that were safe for Black travelers to patronize. Of course, this story cannot be told without also exploring the history of segregation, Black migration and the rise of the Black leisure class.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
By Hunter S. Thompson
A fictional account of two 1971 trips from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that Hunter S. Thompson took with his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, which ends up being a drug-induced journey.