Have Book Will Travel: 10 Reads To Bring On Your Next Trip

Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Grand Central Terminal, New York City

By Daniel Ford and Sean Tuohy

What’s the best way to combat crying kids, PDA Olympians, and Starkist sweethearts when you’re on the move?

Read something.

Here are 10 books we recommend for your traveling needs.

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Sean Tuohy: I was given this book just before I started backpacking through Europe after high school. The book details a boy's coming of age in post-civil war Spain while investigating a long-forgotten book with deadly secrets. The characters jump off the page in this well-written and heartfelt story, but the true star is the city of Barcelona. Zafon paints the city so vividly that you feel as if you are walking the stone streets and running a hand along the bullet marked city walls. I started reading this book when I was sitting on the cold marble floor of the Barcelona train station one summer afternoon. By the time we reached Rome two days later I was nearly done. This book will insert a sense of adventure in you while traveling. Side note, I was nose deep in this book when I was involved in an indecent moment in Vatican City.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Daniel Ford: As a kid, I used to bring multiple books with me on car trips just in case I finished one. I always needed a backup. Who wants to be in a car headed toward grocery shopping without a book? Not this guy. I used to travel a lot in college with St. Johns’ baseball team and tore through a ton of books on long bus trips. I read several hundred pages of David McCullough’sTruman on the road to Charleston, S.C. and devoured Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code in one shot from New York City to Morgantown, W.V. I enjoy reading magazines, I like the ease of the Kindle, but nothing beats a flesh-and-book in my hands while heading to the next adventure (or more likely to the bookstore to buy more books). Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods not only is a travel memoir, but also a great travel companion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this on the road or on the train. You can enjoy walking the Appalachian Trail by sitting on your keister. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The Watchmen by Alan Moore

ST: This is one of the most celebrated comic books of all time and that is for good reason. I had heard about Moore's epic but never picked it up until I went to Canada with a group of friends. My friend Jorge handed me the yellow covered comic and ordered "read this" before walking away. For the next week I had my nose stuck between the pages of a masterpiece. This is a comic book that can even be read by non- comic book fans. The artwork is done in a classic style that will never age, along with fresh, evergreen dialogue. If you need a break from your travels and want to try something new, I recommend this.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

DF: I recommend reading this following a tour of Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace on 28 East 20th Street in New York City. My older brother and I sprinted from a bar several blocks away just to make the final tour of the afternoon. It was also 100 degrees out. We were dripping sweat, but it was totally worth it to see where the nation’s 26th President started out.

This books tracks Roosevelt’s rise to fame and offers more thrills and adventures than you might think for being a biography on a former President. From the moment a sickly “Teedie” is told by his father, “You have the mind, but you do not have the body,” you root for Roosevelt to overcome his shortcomings and take his rightful place in history. His early travels as a youngster should also inspire you to take flight and experience all the world has to offer.

The Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen

ST: I have never been a fan of poetry besides Langston Hughes, but my friend Danny gave me this collection of poems as a birthday gift. It sat on my shelf collecting dust sadly for a year or so before I picked it up randomly as I was in the process of moving to Boston. One overcast morning, I picked the book up and randomly opened to a poem and a few hours later I had eaten the book up and started rereading it. This is a great intro book in to modern poetry for non-poetry fans. Cohan's witty and original views on life give you a different view on the world when you put the book down.

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

DF: This is the perfect book for a long train ride. It won’t take you long to finish and it’s a tightly wound thriller where the stakes for the “characters” and nation have never been higher. The story follows the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. What more do you need in a thriller? Swanson also gives you the impression that Booth was really close to missing and that Lincoln would have kicked his ass because Lincoln would have been between his wife and danger and was still jacked from being a rail-splitter back home. You should read this on a trip to Washington D.C. that ends with a visit to Ford’s Theatre.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

ST: At 14 years old, I found the world of Stephan King and never truly left. From that moment on, I kept one foot solidly in the land of darkness, magic, and wonder. Reading Salem's Lot— King's second published book is a modern take on a vampire story—you’ll find yourself watching a good author find his footing in the publishing world. It’s not as strong as some of his later work, but still well-crafted and filled with classic King characters we have all come to love. The tale about a small New England town that is invaded by the vampires will also keep you awake while on your travels.

The Boxcar Children: Snowbound Mystery and Houseboat Mysteryby Gertrude Chandler Warner

DF: I couldn’t decide on which one of these The Boxcar Children mysteries to include, so I’m throwing them both in. I used to read both the car religiously. There was hardly a morning spent at the breakfast table without a book from The Boxcar Children collection, in fact. I loved reading about the adventures this cool group of kids had without the help of grown-ups. Both mysteries are far more sophisticated and darker than the teen crap being shoved down society’s throat today.

The Boxcar Children started out living alone in an abandoned boxcar, became self-sufficient, and were eventually taken in by an old man who trusted and respected them enough to experience the world on their own. He would be thrown in jail in 2014. These books made me want to adventure on my own as well, which eventually led me leaving home for New York City where I didn’t know a soul. I knew I’d be okay because my friends Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny were always able to come back home after their adventures and regal their grandfather with tales of their shenanigans.

Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

ST: Not a fan of sci-fi? You will be after reading this breath taking sci -fi novel about the human condation to discover more by icon Arthur C Clark. The books tells the story of a massive alien space ship as it passes Earth and the crew of humans sent to investigate. Not very long but filled with classic sci-fi and tension building moments this space travel book will take you to new places.

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

DF: The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a great read, but let’s face it, not exactly uplifting literature. Ben H. Winters’ vision of apocalypse is different. Not that it’s not bleak, because it is, but it allows you to sort through your thoughts on how people might actually react if an asteroid was about to collide with Earth. The book features a semi-boiled police detective Hank Palace who continues to do his job…because, well, that’s what he does. People disappear, laws become flexible, murder becomes easy, but Palace keeps up the good fight because that’s what he’s always done. The world has six months from when the book starts (this is the first in a trilogy) and while it’s a major plot point, the author doesn’t beat you over the head with it. The world has in large part accepted its fate and gone crazy accordingly. I remember reading this book late at night on the subway and bus headed toward Queens—and many times I was the only one on either. If you’re alone in the world and want to feel what it’s like if you were really the only person in the world, follow Hank Palace around for a little bit. There are worse things you could do. Like talk to people.