MAP: Atlas Obscura’s Map of American Literature’s Road Trips

American Road Trips

This “Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips” by Atlas Obscura first showed up last year just before the summer driving season, and it has a lot to love about it.

Road trips have been central to much American literature as long as their have been automobiles. Traveling by car across the nation taps into the American mythos of freedom and provides more opportunities than any other narrative structure to reveal the rich and varied culture of the sprawling, continent-spanning country.

Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez understood this when they put this map together. The map includes twelve novels whose stories criss-cross the country. Placed on an attractive Google Maps base layer, each journey is laid out in a different color, with a legend that allows users to highlight and examine each one individually or see them all at once.

Each trip has several nodes indicating locations that are mentioned in the book. When clicked, each one opens a popup that includes the name of the location, the title and author of the book, and a descriptive quote. With over 1,500 entries the map is a detailed geographic catalogue of each of these books as well as a deep dive into America’s literary heritage, at least of this genre.

A map like this makes me excited about the potential for bookmapping. This map was incredibly popular when it first came out and received broad attention. It has been shared almost 200,000 times on Facebook so far. People seem to appreciate the obsessive detail included in the map as well as seeing how literary travelers have passed near their corners of the country at different times.

One final note about the map: the entries here focus entirely on quotes taken from the works themselves. This is a natural way to approach mapping locations, and shows an enormous amount of dedication on the part of the mapmaker although by themselves the quotes always seem inadequate to me. Personally I like to learn more about the locations that appear in the books and have some historical context about them. Adding this information becomes an even more enormous task though, and I am not yet sure what others like to take from these maps. If you have thoughts on this question, let me know in the comments or by sending an email to the address below.

Check out the map here: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-obsessively-detailed-map-of-american-literatures-most-epic-road-trips. And, check out Atlas Obscura while you are at it. If you enjoy learning about interesting places around the globe, this is your site.

What literary road trips would you like to see mapped? Know of another map that we should share? Send your thoughts to booma@booma.us.

See the rest of our posts about maps here: http://booma.us/category/map/.