Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Transportation and Travel

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam - (ISBN: 978-0312267179)

by Andrew Pham

This biographical account expresses both anguish and delight of a Vietnamese immigrant’s attempt to re-find his home and himself while riding his bicycle through several countries – and finally settling in Vietnam. Although rough, the trip brings him many satisfactions and delightful moments. At once an adventure and a personal quest, this book reveals the inner side of a fascinating country.

Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance - (ISBN: 978-1591143185)

by Ric Gillespie

Gillespie seems to resolve the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. He collects all the primary sources, many previously unpublished, that deal with facts of her fateful airplane voyage. Although he does not claim to know definitively what happened as she attempted to fly around the world, the research seems to point to the idea that she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ended up on an island and died there. Do you agree with his point of view?

Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History - (ISBN: 978-0230622302)

by Nick Barratt

The author combines accounts of Titanic survivors and rescuers about what really happened the night the ocean liner sank with newspaper and other journalistic accounts. In addition to the contradictory testimonials, the author provides fascinating photos of the survivors. Although Barratt makes no attempt to translate their accounts into guilt and culpability, what do you as the reader conclude after looking at the evidence?

Night Flight - (ISBN: 978-0156656054)

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This classic adventure story shows the lives of the air mail carriers who flew on night routes between Patagonia, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina. Compare their hardships and working conditions with those who worked to deliver letters and packages on the Pony Express.

The Sweet Hereafter - (ISBN: 0060923245)

by Russell Banks

When a tragic school bus accident decimates a small Canadian town, the secret activities of the mourning adults reveal the heartaches the townspeople feel. From a veteran who saw the bus slide off the road in front of his eyes to the adults whose points of view populate the story, we feel the endless agony of those who remain. Most importantly, a survivor, a teen cheerleader whose truthful court testimony could reveal all the sordid activities of her community, is torn about what to say.

Closely Watched Trains - (ISBN: 978-0810112780)

by Bohumil Hrabal

Enduring Love - (ISBN: 978-0385494144)

by Ian McEwan

On The Road - (ISBN: 978-0140283297)

by Jack Kerouac

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - (ISBN: 978-0345453747)

by Douglas Adams

Tracks - (ISBN: 978-0679762874)

by Robyn Davidson

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - (ISBN: 978-0061673733)

by Robert Pirsig

Activities for this Theme

Take an everyday journey via two different types of transportation and compare the two. Perhaps try a subway and a cab or a bicycle and your own feet. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?


If you live near the DC area, visit the Transportation Hall at the Smithsonian’s Museum of History and Technology.


If you live in the Midwest, visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI (or find an auto museum near you)


Look into whether you can take your family on one of the restored train rides available across the U.S.