12 Queer Road Trip Books to Adventure With

I have done four cross-country trips in my life so far. Once from Long Island, down the east coast to Virginia, across Tennessee and running the southbound route, largely dominated by Texas, ending in Los Angeles. Once from Los Angeles to Virginia, runs in a straight line across the middle of the country. Once from Florida, along the southbound route again, to Vegas and then back with a slightly altered route to avoid Albuquerque after a bit of superstition after a cursed night there. I am sure I will do it again. I love long car trips. I’m sure I get it from my mother, who would always rather drive 16+ hours between destinations than take a plane. I’m a pro at car snacks.

I don’t necessarily see any long road trips in my immediate future, but in the meantime I can recommend some LGBTQ+ books that prominently feature road trips in their plot. It turns out that there are quite a few of them! Road trips in general are fertile with potential for great fiction, much like dinner parties. Throw two characters into the frame of a car – or someone solo – and watch tensions simmer, realizations surface and changing environments shape how people see and engage with themselves and the world. Here’s a smattering of road trip reads that you might take with you on your next road trip or simply escape from home.

A quick note: There is a huge amount of road trip queer erotica out there, to the point where I felt out of my depth recommending anything without having a chance to read them first, but search “queer” (or m/m or f /f or wlw etc, depending on what you’re looking for) and “roadtrip” on the Goodreads lists and you’ll find a treasure trove of self-pub and mass erotica about road trips out there!

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

You h! An iconic lesbian road trip tale! I want to go on Carol road trip and eat every place they eat in the movie. For now, I’ll just re-read the book.

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

Another iconic entry on this list, Nevada recently received a much-deserved flashy re-release from FSG and continues to be a seminal work of transfiction. You can read Niko Stratis’ interview with Imogen Binnie for Autostraddle as well as Drew Burnett Gregory’s essay on the novel.

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar

This memoir by queer Muslim writer Randa Jarrar follows her journey on a road trip from Los Angeles to her parents’ place in Connecticut. She writes about single motherhood as a queer parent, domestic violence, fat bodies, American racism and much more.

Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing by Erika Lopez

The game in history and form, Flaming iguanas is an illustrated book that follows Tomato Rodriguez as she rides her motorcycle all over the place, meeting girls, good post offices and endless adventures along the way.

Are you listening?  by Tillie Walden

This speculative graphic novel sees two young women, Bea and Lou, thrown together on a road trip through West Texas, accompanied by a curious cat and haunted by dangerous men. It is beautiful and heartbreaking and vivid in its art and language. It’s technically young adult, but I don’t read a ton of YA or loads of graphic storytelling and I found myself completely engrossed in this.

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Speaking of YA, there is a lot of queer YA road trip books out there! This one follows Chloe and Fallon on a journey with best friends to connect with enemies and lovers as they drive around the country to various food truck festivals for the gourmet ice cream truck they work in together. Miscommunication! Excitement! Road side adventure!

A love story with my dead best friend starring Emily Horner

When Cass’s best friend Julia is unexpectedly killed in a car accident, Cass is determined to still go on the road trip she and Julie had planned – only, instead of taking a car, she only has her bike. And instead of having her best friend with her, she has his ashes. The book is about grief, friendship and theatre, and Cass also kept alive the project for the musical Julia had written when she died.

Kings of B'more by R. Eric Thomas

Another YA adventure, Kings of B’More is a Stonewall Honor Book about Black queer best friends Harrison and Linus, who embark on a minivan road trip after Linus delivers the devastating news that he’s moving out of state. R. Eric Thomas is also the author of the wonderful collection of essays Here for it: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America.

Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

While I didn’t actually have the bandwidth to delve into a bunch of erotica for this list, I didn’t want to include at least one romance title, since road trips are a staple of the genre. This one takes us from Florida, up the coast to Quebec! It’s friends of friends of lovers, and it uses a lot of familiar tropes, including a blizzard that forces them to stop their road trip and melt away any lingering tension.

After the parade by Lori Østlund

Lori Ostlund’s debut novel is about a forty-year-old man named Aaron in a relationship with an older partner named Walter for the past twenty years. Leaving Walter in New Mexico on a path of self-discovery and reckoning with his past in the Midwest, Aaron journeys to a new life in San Francisco. I’m also a big fan of Lori Ostlund’s queer short fiction.

We all loved cowboys by Carol Bensimon, translated by Beth Fowler

We All Loved Cowboys by Carol Bensimon

This short work in translation is a novel about recently fallen friends Cora and Julia who get back together for a road trip through Brazil. It is a unique coming-of-age story and a debut novel imbued with themes such as friendship, change and self-exploration.

The rest by Alia Trabucco Zerán, translated by Sophie Hughes

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán

A group of three friends in Chile embark on a road trip up the Andes cordillera after one of their mother’s remains goes missing during transport. The book touches on death, second-generation trauma and friendship. In fact, stories of intense friendship are a major recurring motif in these road trip books.

Got other queer road trip books you want to shout out? Write them in the comments!

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