My favorite books on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.


I wrote...

The Last Professional

By Ed Davis, Colin Elgie (illustrator),

Book cover of The Last Professional

What is my book about?

This is a story of America! Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested.

At the end of the 20th century few Knights of the Road still cling to their vanishing lifestyle. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Dharma Bums

Ed Davis Why did I love this book?

Though Jack’s most well-known work is On The Road, for me The Dharma Bums best illustrates and illuminates Kerouac’s intimate relationship with the transformative nature of travel. Horizons beckon. How he reaches them is every bit as meaningful as what he finds when he gets there. The descriptions are vivid, the writing style organic and original, and the experiences unforgettable.

By Jack Kerouac,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dharma Bums as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published just one year after "On The Road", this is the story of two men enganged in a passionate search for Dharma or truth. Their major adventure is the pursuit of the Zen Way, which takes them climbing into the High Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude.


Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

Ed Davis Why did I love this book?

Steinbeck’s embrace of the nomadic impulse that runs through our country, our history, and ourselves, finds its fullest, most personal expression here. Who hasn’t wanted to pack the camper, hit the two-lanes, and penetrate the thickening veneer of hyperbole that threatens to mask who we truly are? And what better companion on his quest than his dog, Charley!

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


Book cover of The Road

Ed Davis Why did I love this book?

London is famous, not only for the gripping quality of his prose, but for his larger-than-life globe-hopping adventures. For me, The Road reduces all of that to a personal, intimate level. Though written over a hundred years ago, these experiences of the young London making his way as best he can, without means or motive – other than survival – echoes perfectly the plight, and the challenges, and the choices so many face today.

By Jack London,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I went on 'The Road' because I couldn't keep away from it; because I hadn't the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn't work all my life on 'one same shift'; because — well, just because it was easier to than not to."
Jack London's "road" is the railroad, and these reminiscences paint a vivid portrait of life in the United States during the major economic depression of the 1890s. His compelling adventures include a month-long detention in a state penitentiary for vagrancy, as well as his travels with Kelly's Army,…


Book cover of Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

Ed Davis Why did I love this book?

All of us who survived our own version of an Unruly Youth will find much to admire, and much that resonates, in this riveting account of one young man’s quest for identity, and for answers to his fundamental questions about life. He journeys along a “pipeline to freedom" on a bed of steel, ties, and gravel, never sure where his path will carry him from day-to-day. Travelogue From an Unruly Youth carries us into a hidden and unconventional world, weaving a romantic tale of roadside mystery and the universe-altering power of love.

By D.C. Jesse Burkhardt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travelogue From an Unruly Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traveling the North American continent via freight train brought freedom, passion, romance, adventure, and danger -- a heady concoction for someone in his early 20s. The writer journeyed along a "pipeline to freedom" on a bed of steel, ties, and gravel, never sure where his path would carry him from day to day. Yet part of the cost to those nomadic highs was leaving behind a woman who cared dearly for him, and that severing continued to reach him even as he blasted magically across the map on a unique geographic and spiritual quest. After long months and thousands of…


Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

Ed Davis Why did I love this book?

Sometimes wanderlust makes us wander farther than we should. I devoured this book! Part history, part thriller, part downright unbelievable, there is adventure and heroism on every page. I'm not sure that truth is always stranger than fiction, but in Tracy’s able hands it is every bit as exciting. Strap on your snowshoes!

By Tracy Salcedo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Search and Rescue Alaska as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a place as vast and extreme as Alaska, no one takes safety for granted. Whether adventurer or homesteader, tourist or native, people look out for themselves and for each other. But sometimes it just goes bad, and no amount of resourcefulness or resiliency can make it right. That's when search and rescue teams kick into gear, launching operations by air and by land that have generated amazing tales of heroism, tenacity, and human kindness. Some of those stories have been gathered in Search and Rescue Alaska, including:
*Rescues on Denali, North America's highest peak, from the mountain's first search…


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Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wanderlust, Beat Generation, and search and rescue?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wanderlust, Beat Generation, and search and rescue.

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Beat Generation Explore 9 books about Beat Generation
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