I must confess—I am a nightmare travel companion. I am one of those annoying types who plan every single second of a trip, attempting to ensure a flawless experience. As you probably guessed, things rarely go as planned. Still, my family’s fondest memories are not of my well-executed but stressful crusades. What we remember most are the times when things went completely awry, veering way off-course and leading to some hilarious moments.

Far-flung adventures (or even just a new commuting route) can lead us to unexpected discoveries and places that we never knew existed. For this month, I wanted to suggest some books that illustrate that well-worn saying: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.”

Trains and LoversTrains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

"As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, four strangers entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives."

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

"Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning, flashing past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stopping at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. Their life, as she sees it, is perfect ... until she sees something shocking..."

Together We Will GoTogether We Will Go by J. Michael Straczynski

"Life has other plans for a group of strangers who want to end it all on a cross-country road trip, but then bond in ways they never could have imagined."

Miles From Where We StartedMiles From Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

"Weeks away from their one-year anniversary, Mallory and Connor Duncan can't even agree on how to end their marriage. But when a last-minute crisis lands them on a three-thousand-mile road trip together, Mallory wonders if their story may not be over after all."

Traveling LightTraveling Light by Lynne Branard

"Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man's ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn't exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it's exactly what she needs ..."

A Hundred Thousand WorldsA Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

"Val must reunite 9-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York."

The Wangs vs. the WorldThe Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

"A hilarious debut novel about a wealthy but fractured Chinese immigrant family that had it all, only to lose every last cent--and about the road trip they take across America that binds them back together."

The Librarian of Boone's HollowLibrarian of Boone's Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer

"A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback and rediscovers her passions in this powerful novel."

The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

"When a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library, Alice Wright signs on enthusiastically. Soon she will be joined by four other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky."

SpinSpin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story by Peter Zheutlin

"Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a young, Jewish mother of three small children, climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle and pedaled away into history."

We Begin Our AscentWe Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed

"Sol and Liz are a couple on the cusp. He's a professional cyclist in the Tour de France, a workhorse but not yet a star. She's a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery...Over the whirlwind course of the Tour, they enter the orbit of an extraordinary cast of conmen and aspirants."

LayoverLayover by David Bell

"In this high-concept psychological suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Somebody's Daughter, a chance meeting with a woman in an airport sends a man on a pulse-pounding quest for the truth ..."

The Flight AttendantThe Flight Attendant: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian

"Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home."

The Last FlightThe Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark

"A novel focusing on two women who meet in an airport, both alone, both scared, and both urgently needing an escape from their lives."

PrudencePrudence (The Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger

"Twenty-year-old Prudence "Rue" Akeldama and her friends journey in a gaudy dirigible to India in search of a superior type of tea for her adoptive father, a wealthy vampire, only to run headfirst into danger, intrigue, and local politics."

What Happens in the AirWhat Happens in the Air by Michele Dunaway

"After Luke Thornburg shattered her heart, Shelby Bien fled town to become a jet-setting photographer. She's shocked to find that single dad Luke's back in Beaumont. When they join forces to fly their families' hot-air balloon, it's Shelby's chance at a cover story."

The Unsinkable Greta JamesThe Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

"Greta--still heartbroken and very much adrift--reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss."

The CatchThe Catch: A Novel by Taylor Stevens

"Passing as a man while working at sea for a security company she discovers is part of a gunrunning operation, Vanessa Michael Munroe escapes a pirate attack and agrees to help find her crewmates only to discover that the hijackers were seeking the ship captain under her care."

The OdysseyThe Odyssey by Lara Williams

"Ingrid works on a gargantuan cruise ship where she spends her days reorganizing the gift shop shelves...until the day she is selected by the ship's enigmatic captain and (ill-informed) wabi-sabi devotee, Keith, for his mysterious mentorship program..."

When the Night ComesWhen the Night Comes: A Novel by Favel Parrett

"Isla is a lonely girl who moves to Hobart with her mother and brother to try and better their lives. It's not really working until they meet Bo, a crewman on an Antarctic supply ship..."

AutonomousAutonomous by Annalee Newitz

"Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can't otherwise afford them."

The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

"When a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library, Alice Wright signs on enthusiastically. Soon she will be joined by four other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky."

Summaries sourced from publishers' marketing materials

July's Featured Reviews

The Whisper ManThe Whisper Man by Alex North
Little EveLittle Eve by Catriona Ward

Hop on the Holds List

1. The Collector – Daniel Silva (July)

2. Tom Lake – Ann Patchett (August)

3. After That Night: A Will Trent Thriller – Karin Slaughter (August)

4. Canary Girls – Jennifer Chiaverini (August)

5. Dead Mountain - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (August)

Also, I urge you to discover or revisit the wonderful work of Cormac McCarthy.

Recent Readings

I have recently finished reading The Cloisters by Katy Hays and Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore. I also just finished listening to The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell on Libby.

Right now, I am reading Prom Mom by Laura Lippman and The Tatami Galaxy by Tomihiko Morimi. I am also listening to The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah on Hoopla.

How do you prefer to travel? Have any funny travel anecdotes? Tell me all about it! (jnmegan@gpl.org).

Until next time: Be safe, be well and be well-read!


So, who am I, anyway? I am a resident of West Groton, with a husband, 3 children in college (and one at GDRHS) and a Samoyed that keeps my vacuum well-employed. I am currently working part time at the Groton Public Library and in a former life I was a Director or PR/Marketing at a high-tech consulting firm. My BA is in Psychology, but most of my time was spent in college earning a Concentration on the Novel. That is all to say that I make no claims at being an expert of any kind and my thoughts, opinions and mistakes are solely my own. I am just a person whose passion for books has continued to grow from the moment I was first able to grip and gnaw on them. I have been devouring them ever since.

Jul 01, 2023 / Joelle M Egan