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Books About Traveling Across America

As we planned the Read Around the USA Reading Challenge, we brainstormed the types of books we’d love to include on each list. Outside of books set in individual states or territories, we wanted our reading to examine the different ways cross-state travel has both developed the nation and/or enhanced individual lives.

From the best road trip books set in modern times to the lasting impacts of the Underground Railroad and Oregon Trail, the journey books recommended below highlight a variety of experiences with travels through multiple states. There are fiction reads from several genres, memoirs/biographies, and deeper non-fiction focused on history that we should all know.

The Best Books About Journeys Through Multiple States

Book Summary

Hadley needs to escape her physically abusive husband, Frank, to protect herself, her teenage daughter, and her special needs nephew. Grace is a new mother struggling with single-parenting while her husband is away. Hadley’s husband, Frank, has just cheated Grace out of her commission on a business deal.

One Friday night, these two women cross paths and form an alliance that sets the stage for a road trip adventure with major Thelma and Louise vibes (minus the violence). Together, Hadley and Grace, with three children in tow, are racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them – trouble in the form of Frank, the FBI, and the media. This is a humorous and adventurous feel-good story about two women trying to outsmart everyone to protect their families.

The Book Girls Say…

The characters depart from California and drive through the west, through deserts and small towns to big cities. This Thelma & Louise-esque novel is good fun, but it also deals with heavier issues, like domestic abuse, gambling, and murder.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

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The Best Audio Books on Kindle Unlimited

Book Summary

Cora is enslaved on a cotton plantation in Georgia, where she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans. With womanhood on the horizon, she knows that she’ll soon face even greater problems and pain unless she is able to escape to freedom. When she learns about the Underground Railroad, she decides to take the terrifying risk to escape. In this novel, however, the railroad is not merely a network of secret routes and safe houses. Instead, Colson Whitehead employs an element of magical realism. His Underground Railroad has engineers and conductors operating a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil

Along the way, Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. She is now being hunted as she continues to make her harrowing journey northward, state by state. She encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey, each created by the author to illustrate the unique terrors and dangers for African Americans in the pre-Civil War era.

The Book Girls Say…

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017, as well as the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2016. If you are interested in a nonfiction companion book about the Underground Railroad, we recommend Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Magical Realism Books

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

West With Giraffes is a charming tale of adventure that takes you on the ride of a lifetime from the east coast of the US to the west, alongside a rowdy 17-year-old, a grumpy older man, and two giraffes. The year is 1938, and no American zoo has successfully housed giraffes before. The female zoo director of the San Diego Zoo believes she can do it. The giraffes have just survived a hurricane en route to the east coast, and Riley Jones, the zoo’s curmudgeonly head keeper, is responsible for safely transporting the giraffes from New York City to San Diego.

America is still in the throes of the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl conditions continue to ravage the drought-stricken Southern Plains states. A coast-to-coast trek with giant animals is no easy feat. Jones begrudgingly teams up with a starving teenager named Woody to help him make the journey. The adventures along the way include run-ins with circus con artists, being tailed by a female photographer looking for a big scoop, an emotional visit to Woody’s hometown, and so much more.

At its heart, this is a coming-of-age story. Now, at the age of 105, Woody recounts his 12-day cross-country trip with Jones and the giraffes and how it shaped his life.

The Book Girls Say…

After we both gave this book 5 stars, we recommended it to other readers in a variety of age ranges. Everyone else has loved it too! In fact, Angela’s husband recently listened to the audiobook, and her 10 and 11-year-old sons begged to listen with him. It’s now a family favorite!

From the insights it gives to life across America in the late 1930s to the growing relationships between characters, including the humans and the giraffes, we can’t recommend this book highly enough!

The audio is included with the Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/13/2023

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

West with Giraffes Book Club Questions & Guide
Intergenerational Novels: Books that Connect Generations
Unforgettable Dust Bowl Books

PS: We also have a printable West with Giraffes book club guide available on Etsy, including discussion questions, bonus giraffe content, a custom bookmark, and more!

Book Summary

In 1848, a young enslaved couple, Ellen and William, made a daring escape from slavery. While posing as master and slave, the couple traveled more than 1000 miles on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North. Ellen passed as a wealthy, disabled White man and William posed as “his” slave as they dodged slave traders and military officers.

When they found freedom, their story made them celebrities, and many Americans fell in love with the couple. They traveled another 1000 miles crisscrossing New England, speaking alongside some of the greatest abolitionists, like Frederick Douglass.

However, with the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States.

The Book Girls Say…

While this incredible tale sounds fictional, this is a nonfiction biography of Ellen and William Craft, who bravely chased the life, liberty, and justice for all promised by America.

Book Summary

Samantha and Holly used to be best friends, but it’s been a long time since they’ve spoken. Samantha will do anything to avoid conflict, while Holly craves it. But they still have one thing in common after 25 years… Katie.

Hospitalized with ovarian cancer, Katie needs a favor from her old college roommates. It’s not a small ask. Katie wants them to drive cross-country, steal a VW camper from her terrible ex-husband, find her diabetic Great Pyrenees at a Utah dog rescue, and drive him back to Wisconsin. 

Is 1,500 miles, a 100-pound dog, and some illegal(ish) behavior too much to ask? Not for a friend. Along the way, Samantha and Holly will encounter second chances, self-discovery, and even unexpected romance. Will the open road finally blow the dust off of the secret that broke up their friendship all those years ago?

The Book Girls Say…

Readers say that this witty and warm novel is at turns hilarious and heartbreaking.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

Book Summary

Naomi May never expected to be widowed at the young age of twenty. When she sets off with her family on the Overland Trail, she hopes it will be a chance to leave her grief behind. Along the trail, she forms a connection with a half-Pawnee man named John Lowry. John straddles two worlds, but feels like a stranger in both. Even as John and Naomi are drawn together, their pasts, and the trials of life on the wagon train, work to keep them apart. 

John’s heritage allows them to gain passage through hostile territory, but it also comes between their desire to build a life together. When a terrible tragedy strikes, both will have to make incredible sacrifices to save each other.

The Book Girls Say…

Readers warn that this book will make you ugly cry.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

Book Summary

Author Anna McNuff was disillusioned with her corporate life in London and ready to make a big change. Despite having no long-distance cycling experience, she set out on an 11,000-mile journey to visit every US State on her pink bicycle named Boudica.

She endured floods, blizzards, and lightning storms while cycling through varied terrain from the Redwoods to the Rocky Mountains. Along the way, she meets a whole cast of characters in this down-to-earth, heartfelt, and hilarious account of her travels through America.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say the author narrates the audiobook and does a fabulous job. She’s said to have a positive attitude throughout the book that makes her very likable.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

Book Summary

After a fall, Louise’s daughter insists that a full-time caregiver move in to assist 84-year-old Louise with daily life. Like many independent seniors, Louise wants no part of this arrangement. She’s still perfectly capable of pouring her own vodka each day.

Tanner is twenty-one and needs a place to live. She’d love to find a way to make a living in her pajamas playing video games instead of dealing with the real world. Since she knows the reality is that she needs money, she takes the opportunity when a chance to be a live-in caregiver falls in her lap.

Tanner and Louise are doing okay as roommates, mostly ignoring each other until Tanner starts noticing questionable things around the house. For example, the garden shed is locked up like Fort Knox, and the news reporting on a jewelry heist with a suspect who looks like Louise.

When Louise packs a bag and insists she and Louise must leave town in the middle of the night, they begin what might be the most incredible adventure of their lives.

The Book Girls Say…

This well-rounded and humorous book crosses genres from contemporary fiction to mystery and romance.

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Best Beach Reads – Best 2023 Summer Books

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Set in 1932 during the Great Depression, This Tender Land follows four orphans who have escaped the abusive Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The kids set off down the Mississippi River in a canoe and have to survive the environment while being pursued by the school. They have to decide whether to trust each stranger they encounter and discover themselves along the way.

The Book Girls Say…

Equal parts adventure and heart, this book is often described as a modern classic and compared to Huckleberry Finn.

This Tender Land is included free with an Audible Membership as of 8/14/23.

Book Summary

Carrot had a very difficult childhood in Alaska, marked by neglect, poverty, and periods of homelessness. Striking out on her own, Carrot found a sense of belonging among a group of straight-edge anarchists. They taught her how to travel the country by freight train. It’s a life of adventure and freedom, but also of hardships like foraging in dumpsters for food. And she finds that no matter how far she rides the rails, she’s still haunted by her traumatic childhood.

The Book Girls Say…

This raw memoir, which is told in a non-linear timeline, is recommended for fans of The Glass Castle and Educated.

Book Summary

Jeannette was born on a Louisiana plantation to an enslaved woman and a white man. She’s raised alongside her white half-sister. When her father dies suddenly, his wife refuses 12-year-old Jeannette her inheritance and sells her into slavery in Mississippi before the onset of the Civil War. 

Jeannette escapes enslavement and travels to Philadelphia, then New York and Ohio, all in search of purpose, love, and her place in the country. She meets the proprietor of Fortitude Mansion, a safe haven for escaped slaves, where she teaches for a time. But when she no longer feels that she belongs there, she must once again continue on her journey of self-discovery. 

The Book Girls Say…

This novel is a retelling of Jane Eyre set before the Civil War, but you don’t need to be familiar with this classic to enjoy Wild, Beautiful, and Free. Some reviewers found portions of this book a bit too contrived or convenient, but many others find it deeply moving with a satisfying ending. While this novel deals with extremely difficult topics, readers say that Sophfronia Scott also weaved together stories of love and hope in such a way that keeps this book from being depressing.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

Book Summary

Millicent never expected to be traveling to Key West with a portion of the ashes of her elderly best friend in her backpack. But before Mrs. Nash died, Millie promised that she would reunite her with the woman she loved 80 years earlier.

She also didn’t expect to be on a road trip with a cynical writer. Millie met Hollis through her ex’s MFA program and was surprised to find him also stranded at the airport due to flight cancellations. They agree to make the long drive together, getting to know each other. While Mille thought this trip was about Mrs. Nash’s love story, maybe it’s really about her own.

The Book Girls Say…

Millie and Hollis encounter entertaining oddities all along their east coast road trip, from peculiar bed-and-breakfasts to unusual small-town festivals. This book strikes the right balance between humor, romance, and emotions.

NOTE: While the cover doesn’t reflect this, the book does include steamy open-door scenes.

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Book Summary

From 1936 to 1967, millions relied on The Negro Motorist Green Book to keep them safe as they traveled in the United States. This guide published the safe locations to rest, eat, and sleep along major highways in the North and South.

For this book, author Alvin Hall traveled with his friend Janée Woods Weber from New York to Detroit to New Orleans to explore historical and cultural landmarks. They visited some of the motels, restaurants, shops, and stores where Black Americans once found a friendly welcome. Along the way, they were able to speak with some of the last living witnesses for whom the Green Book meant survival.

The Book Girls Say…

While this book does cover the author’s trip using the Green Book, it’s also a history of 1930s-1960s America, including Jim Crow, the KKK, reconstruction, and several prominent figures of the time. The author also reflects on his own childhood road trips and experiences, so don’t expect a straight travelogue of his present-day Green Book journey.

For an even more in-depth look at how Black Americans were stopped from moving freely, consider picking up Traveling Black by Mia Bay, which covers not only difficulties in road trips but also how movement was restricted in every way, from stagecoaches and trains to buses and planes.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This entire novel takes place over the course of 10 days in 1954. Eighteen-year-old Emmett has finished his term on a work farm, where he was sent after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The warden drives him home to Nebraska, where he plans to pick up his 8-year-old brother before heading west for a fresh start. However, Emmett discovers that two friends, Duchess and Wooly, from the work camp have stowed away in the trunk. The three teens and 8-year-old Billy adjust their plans and set out across the country together. The book is told from alternating points of view.

The Book Girls Say…

Despite its title, this book is about a journey of self-discovery as much as it is about a cross-country journey. Portions of the book are set along the Lincoln Highway, but some readers are surprised that this is less of an adventure novel and more introspective.

Lincoln Highway was voted as one of our reader’s overall favorite books of 2021.

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In the 1950s, at age 67, great-grandmother Emma Gatewood set out for a walk with less than $200 in her pocket. But this wasn’t just any walk. She was determined to be the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone.

She achieved this big goal and then became the first person (man or woman) to walk the trail twice and then three times. When reporters learned of her quest, they began calling her Grandma Gatewood, and she even made it to the pages of Sports Illustrated.

This biography tells of her adventures, with stories pulled from her diaries, trail journals, letters, and even interviews with her family members.

The Book Girls Say…

This nonfiction book won the National Outdoor Book Award for History/Biography in 2014, and was also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Best History and Biography.

Humor and travel writer Bill Bryson also wrote a highly-rated book about his own adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail. Published in 1998, A Walk in the Woods is entertaining while providing detailed information about the history and ecology of the trail.

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Books With Characters in Their 60s

Book Summary

Kathleen is living independently at 80 years old, and she’s rather impressed with the way she handled a recent scary situation with an intruder. However, her daughter Liza thinks this incident is a prime example of why Kathleen should move to a senior home.

Not only does Kathleen not want to move, she’s also ready for a new adventure traveling down Route 66 in search of an old friend. Liza’s already stressed and has no time to drive across the country with her mom. So, Kathleen publishes an ad for a driver and companion to travel with her across America.

When 25-year-old Martha sees the ad, she thinks it could solve all her problems. How much trouble could an 80-year-old be?

The Book Girls Say…

This story is light and enjoyable – nothing overly dramatic or weighty. It’s just three women, at various stages of life, having the courage to reassess and take stock of their lives and make necessary changes. This work of women’s contemporary fiction has a romance storyline as well.

Book Summary

Lewis is young, gay, and out of work. When he learns that his insufferable, homophobic neighbor, Chester Wheeler, is in need of end-of-life care, he doesn’t need the headache. But he does need the money. Lewis agrees to run errands and be on call for other things Chester might need. The two exchange barbs, bicker, and push each other’s buttons. But when Chester tells Lewis his dying wish, Lewis can’t say no.

Chester wants Lewis to drive him from Buffalo to Arizona in his rusty Winnebago so that he can see his ex-wife, who he hasn’t seen in 32 years, one last time. One week and two thousand miles is a long time to spend together. But along the way, Chester will reveal some of his life-long secrets. This vulnerability leads to understanding and a surprising new friendship.

The Book Girls Say…

Several of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novels have been very popular with our readers, so we were excited that this 2022 release fit our cross-country reading challenge prompt.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 08/14/2023

Book Summary

The Great Recession took an especially hard hit on older adults, many of whom lost their retirement savings. This nonfiction book tells the story of tens of thousands of seniors who formed nomadic communities, traveling from place to place in search of work in RVs and modified vans. From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have found creative ways to utilize this low-cost labor pool.

The Book Girls Say…

Instagram is filled with influencers sharing curated photos of their nomadic adventures in glamorously decked-out RVs. This is not what Nomadland is about. This book tells the story of older Americans who are living out of their RVs and vans out of necessity rather than a sense of adventure. These are retirement-age adults who are essentially homeless and following seasonal work opportunities to make ends meet.

Nomadland also was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 2021.

Book Summary

Jess was once happily married, but after her relationship failed, she also lost touch with her son. For the past four years, she’s been living a nomadic existence, and promoting her van life hacks on Instagram. But the version of her life that she shares in photos and videos bears little resemblance to reality. Nonetheless, she’s found camaraderie among an eclectic community of fellow travelers that, combined with the vastness of the great outdoors, has given her the space to rediscover what matters most to her. Now she has to act on it.

The Book Girls Say…

This 43-page short story is an August 2023 Amazon First Reads pick. So if you haven’t already grabbed your free Prime book this month, consider downloading this Amazon Original ebook. We don’t typically include many short stories on our lists, but many of Christina Baker Kline’s books have been very popular with Book Girls’ readers, including The Exiles, The Orphan Train, and A Piece of the World.

Book Summary

This non-fiction biography sounds more like a fictional tale. In 1954, 63-year-old Annie Wilkins decided she had to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. The Maine farmer had no remaining relatives, had lost her family farm, and was given two years to live by the doctor.

Instead of resting as the doctor recommended, Annie bought a retired racehorse named Tarzan, put on a pair of men’s Dungarees, and set out from Maine in November. Her only other companion was her dog, Depeche Toi. Annie, Tarzan, and Depeche Toi traveled over 4000 miles with no maps through America’s big cities and small towns. Through the kindness of strangers and her incredible determination, Annie had the adventure of a lifetime.

The Book Girls Say…

If you loved the historical fiction novel Finding Dorothy, you may also enjoy this non-fiction book by the same author.

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Books Set in the 1950s

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

This nonfiction book is part family memoir and part travelog. Norma had recently lost her husband of nearly seven decades when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. The medical advice included surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But she had a different vision for her waning days. Rather than spending them in a hospital bed, Norma wants an adventure.

Together with her retired son, Tim, his wife, Ramie, and their Poodle named Ringo, Norma hits the road in a motorhome, determined to see as much as possible. A once timid woman, Norma decides to say “yes” to living. State by state, she tries regional foods for the first time, goes whale watching and hot air ballooning, and mounts up for a horseback ride. With each passing mile (and thanks in part to a stop at a cannabis dispensary), Norma’s health improves, and she and her family form a tighter bond.

The Book Girls Say…

Ramie created a Facebook page called “Driving Miss Norma” to document the family’s journey. As their following grew, strangers all around the country began recommending places to stop and things to do, which helped to guide their 32-state journey. Our readers call this an uplifting, inspirational, and moving story!

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Books With Characters in Their 90s and 100s

Book Summary

For five years, Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road. They’ve been crisscrossing the nation in an old school bus ever since her mom and two sisters were killed in a car accident. 

Coyote hasn’t been home in a long time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is set to be demolished – the same park where she and her mom and sisters buried a memory box – she knows she has to return. She comes up with an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive her 3,600 back to Washington State in four days without him realizing it.

Along the way, they pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Coyote will learn that going home can sometimes be the hardest part of the journey, but with new friends by her side, she’s ready to face it.

The Book Girls Say…

This Middle-Grade fiction was recommended to us by some of our readers for this challenge. If you’re choosing it to read with your kid, keep in mind that some reviewers say it may have too many intense emotional topics for younger middle-grade readers. Most say it’s a tear-jerker.

Book Summary

Historian Rinker Buck built a wooden flatboat named Patience to sail down the Mississippi River to New Orleans like a modern-day Huck Finn. His four-month journey mirrored the millions of farmers, merchants, and teenage adventurers who embarked from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia on flatboats headed beyond the Appalachians to Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Life on the Mississippi also covers The Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced more than 125,000 members of the Cherokee, Choctaw, and several other tribes to travel the Mississippi on a brutal journey en route to the barrens of Oklahoma. Additionally, Buck teaches about the enslaved African Americans who were carried in flatboats and marched by foot 1,000 miles over the Appalachians to the cotton and cane fields of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, birthing the term “sold down the river.” 

Book Summary

Harley’s parents run a famous Las Vegas circus, and she grew up admiring the lead aerialist and dreaming of being a trapeze artist. However, her parents insist that she go to college instead of learning how to awe the audience.

After a big fight with her parents, Harley leaves home to join the rival traveling circus, Maison du Mystère. Life on the road is both brutal and beautiful, and she must work hard while coming to terms with the sacrifices she made to follow her dream. Along the way, there is a little romance for Harley. However, keep in mind that she is very much a teenager and prone to bouts of immaturity and imperfect decisions.

The Book Girls Say…

In addition to the circus plot, there are important discussion points about what it’s like to be part of a multiracial family and about mental health. This book includes stops in the following states: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, & Tennessee.

Book Summary

Just a few months after leaving office, Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, did something unprecedented for a former President. They hopped in their new ’53 Chrysler New Yorker and started a three-week, 2500-mile road trip from their home in Independence, Missouri to Washington, DC, with a stop in New York City for their anniversary. They wanted to fly under the radar – no press, no Secret Service, just a newly retired couple.

Of course, America didn’t cooperate, and their cover was blown time and again by bellhops, cabbies, teenagers, and even a Pennsylvania state trooper. While he left office with a 22% approval rating, he was still greeted with respect and adoration all along the way.

The Book Girls Say…

The book shows Truman’s experiences in the context of the 40s-50s, but the author is also retracing the journey, staying in the same hotels and eating at the same restaurants, so you get both the historical journey and a contemporary road trip as you read. 

Book Summary

In 1929, only nine years after American women were finally able to vote, twenty of the best female aviators took to the skies in the 1929 Air Derby. They raced across the US from Santa Monica, California, on a nine-day route, including dozens of takeoffs and landings, to the finish line in Cleveland, OH.

In addition to Amelia Earnhart, the pilots included Marvel Crosson, who built a plane before she even learned how to fly; Louise Thaden, who shattered jaw-dropping altitude records; and Elinor Smith, who made headlines when she flew under the Brooklyn Bridge at age 17.

Born to Fly covers their suspenseful journey and highlights the thrilling, yet dangerous, early days of flight.

The Book Girls Say…

Don’t be scared off by the Middle Grade age rating. Adult readers loved learning about the different female pioneers in aviation beyond Amelia Earhart in this 288-page read.

Book Summary

In the 1800s, hundreds of thousands of pioneers traversed the western half of the continent in covered wagons along the 2000-mile Oregon trail. When author Rinker Buck discovered that some sections of the trail still exist, he had a wild idea. Could he be the first person in over 100 years to conquer the trail the old way – in a covered wagon with a mule team?

Like the pioneers, he started in Missouri and went through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho before finally arriving in Oregon. For the four-month trek, he was joined by his brother, Nick, and his Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl.

The Book Girls Say…

In addition to being a travelogue of this contemporary journey, Rinker also provides the history of this important trail that united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads.

Book Summary

Teenager Annabelle has suffered a great loss and sets out to outrun the tragedy. She starts in Seattle and runs through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to bustling college towns.

While she set out to run alone, Annabelle is followed by her Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her self-appointed publicity team, made up of her brother and two of his friends. As her cross-country journey gains publicity, she is greeted at state lines and thrown parties, but she still just wants to escape what happened back home.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers highly praise the writing in this book, specifically how well the author makes you feel the weight of Annabelle’s grief. While side characters are kind and supportive, and some say the book is ultimately uplifting, it does deal with stalking, gun violence, and PTSD, so prepare to be devastated and angry along the way.

Book Summary

In 1960, at the age of 58, John Steinbeck set out to rediscover the country that he had been writing about for many years. Together with his French poodle, Charley, Steinbeck cruised down interstates and traversed country roads, stopping in diners and national parks along the way. 

In this classic memoir, he reflects on what he observed during his journey, including American loneliness, racial hostility, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.

The Book Girls Say…

Like all classics, this book is a product of its time. As such, it includes shadows of racism and sexism. However, current reviews say that Steinbeck’s insights into American culture paint a vivid portrait of our past while still remaining relevant today. This memoir is described as a bit slow, but in an easy, relaxed way. Many reviewers note being surprised at the laugh-out-loud humor interjected throughout.


We hope you enjoyed this book list and found several books to add to your TBR (to be read list). If you’re choosing a book for our reading challenge, you are also welcome to read any other book that meets the challenge prompt.

If you have a suggestion for a book that you think would be a great addition to this list, please fill out this form.

You can read all about the Read Around the USA Challenge and sign up for a free printable challenge book tracker here.

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The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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