Seeing as I will be going on a long-ish journey to the States in just a few days, and I have read my fair share of literature on America by now, I thought it would make sense to share 3 books each giving a different perspective of the Greatest Nation on Earth.
Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck
Starting with the oldest, this was my first acquaintance with John Steinbeck’s writing. He writes about his journey around most of the country in the year 1960 – going from East to West and back again. Bringing his dog and a lot of booze makes the perfect combination to get to talk to the locals, and he does have a number of very interesting encounters. One of my lasting impressions of this book, apart from the fantastic writing, was the fact that already then, so far back, was America developing into what it is today – small towns dwindling, malls cropping up everywhere.
I’m A Stranger Here Myself – Bill Bryson
Moving forward 30+ years we arrive at Bill Bryson’s perspective. Recapping his story, he was born in Des Moines, Iowa but moved with his family to England and lived there for 10 years. This book is a collection of a column he was writing for a newspaper in England about life in America, written in the year of so after he moved back across the pond, now to New England. It isn’t a forth moving story, but short pieces about all kinds of things American that would strike a (recently) British person as odd, funny or even outrageous. Always hilarious when Bryson’s the writer, this goes a little deeper into the way of the American life, showing all the good and all the bad.
The Oregon Trail – Rinker Buck
Finally, this piece from 2014. The author decides to do the famed Oregon Trail from Kansas to California in a covered wagon with 3 mules at the front, a ‘trail pup’ at the back and his brother beside him. I am loving this story – not only does he tell what exactly it is like to cross America in a covered wagon in the year 2014, but also writes a lot about the background history of the Oregon Trail, and the pioneers that crossed it. It really sets the wanderlust going – I can’t wait till I get my chance at exploring the American West, even though maybe not in a covered wagon.. at first.
Have you read any of these books? Any recommendations of books about America of your own? Comment below!