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Great Reads for the Road…Or at Home!

December 4, 2011 by · 6 Comments 


Closely akin to the thoughts about gifts for loved ones on the Feast of St. Nicholas, which was the subject of my last post, is the journey my mind takes each year about this time to acquiring new reads for the road. Assuming you are like me, especially thinking about summer reading, or perhaps winter reading for those cold winter nights, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads for either occasion.

Walden1.  While the New York Times Bestseller list is a great resource for new publications, there are a few classic favorites that are timeless and great for travelers. Thoreau’s Walden is an example of such a book. While I had an old copy acquired in college, I felt compelled to acquire a new edition while in Massachusetts visiting Walden Pond a few years back. Incidentally, I think that body of water should perhaps be renamed Walden Lake as it did not at all resemble a pond.

When home, Walden it sits at my bedside; when traveling it accompanies me. In his spare prose, Thoreau shares wise and poetic thoughts about living in wild places that can only help us appreciate our time in natural settings.

Walden "Pond"

Walden "Pond"

2.  Any writing by an author who appreciates the importance of being in wild, untamed places. Anything by Aldo Leopold or John Muir (both originally from my home state of Wisconsin) would suffice. Another less well-known choice is “…of woodsmoke and quiet places”, written in 1997 by a wildlife writer from the great lakes region named Jerry Wilber. Reminiscent of Muir, Wilber’s title includes a post for each day of the year. We have owned it for in excess of 10 years and have been through its pages more times than I can remember, reading both the post for the day we open the book, as well as those before and after the current date.

Texas, Alaska3. Anything by James Michener, James Patterson,  John Grisham or Stephen King. Whether you prefer a quick read or a long slow one, this quartet has something for you. I have greatly enjoyed a number of Michener’s works, including Centennial, Texas and Alaska. Centennial is the book I have read more times than any other in my life and my copy is “well-loved.  Alaska has beckoned me more than twice and is never far from my thoughts. While Michener’s books are lengthy, there is great reward for putting the time in to get to know his characters and locale. These tomes are rich and satisfying.

Patterson’s writings on the other hand are quick to get into and tend to be very fast reads. Very engaging, none-the-less, I am always disappointed when I finish one. These are good for shorter trips or trips when my duties as a navigator will demand that I focus primarily on the road and maintain the ability to be easily distracted.

In between the two are the works of Stephen King. While immediately engaging, King’s books tend to take longer to read than Patterson’s but tend not to be as lengthy as Michener’s works. While any of his works are fulfilling and I would recommend reading any that you have not already finished, he recently released a new book that has peaked my curiosity: 11-22-63. I’m told it is the story of a high school English teacher that is given the opportunity to travel back in time to attempt to prevent the murder of John F. Kennedy. Needless to say, in one form or another (see #5 below), I will be traveling with this book this summer!

Woodalls Guide4.  Any books on camping or campground guides to help you plan for your next trip. It is fun to get a new version of an old favorite and beginning preparing for your next journey.

5.  Finally, and this is not so much a title as a method of reading; while we noted last year that an IPad or Kindle is a wonderful traveling companion, and my colleague Patti F. discussed her love for these e-readers in a recent post, this year on November 15th, Amazon released the Kindle Fire, an e-reader with remarkable capabilities. More than just a reader, it can surf the net, shop, chat as well as read e-books. Further, it now has color capabilities, a real enhancement of the presentation of material.

Reasonably priced, the Fire sells for $199, about half the price of the Apple IPad. There are models available from other manufacturers as well, so if you are in the market, do some research so you can choose the model best suited for your needs. While this is a bit pricey for our traditional type of St. Nick gift, you may want to keep this in mind for an early Christmas present, for yourself or for a love one. I know I will be!

Browse RV and campground directories at Woodall’s online bookstore for more ideas on great reads for the road.


6 Responses to “Great Reads for the Road…Or at Home!”
  1. Paul & Deanna says:

    As far as James Patterson is concerned, I agree, as long as he is the sole author. Unfortunately he has started to “franchise” his name; books authored by “James Patterson and ??????” are becoming more frequent. And they are not nearly as good. He’s not alone doing this – I think Robert Ludlum was the first and there are several others, usually authers who have had a good long run.


  2. Diane Berry says:

    Paul: Not sure I’ve read one of Patterson’s “combined efforts” but will now be on the lookout for them. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Terry says:

    Any of the Joel Rosenburg books are good reading.

  4. Diane Berry says:

    Thanks Terry! Always looking for new authors to read. Will definitely check him out! Happy travels!

  5. Patti Faustini says:

    Hi there, Diane. James Michener changed my life. I read “The Source” (beginnings of the Jewish religion) when I was 17, and learned how wonderful a true story can be. Then, I read “Hawaii” at 18, and just couldn’t believe how much fun I was having while learning. From, there “Sayonara” and “Iberia” took over my life,and “Caravans.” I love James Michener. What a major league talent.

    However, one of my favorite historical fiction reads is Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth.” Wow. I love that 11th century England cathedral building action!

    There’s nothing like a good read on the road or at home.

    Happy tales, Patti

  6. Diane Berry says:

    Thanks for the suggestion Patti–I seem to be collecting quite a few great tips about what to read! An unexpected bonus! : ) Can’t wait to check them out!

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