Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (And the Space Race and Time Travel)

When you’re on an airplane, the Amtrak, or even in a giant peach this winter break, the best way to recover from the end of the semester might be a good book. Check out these books from the UGL today! No matter what their mode of travel, all of these books are going somewhere.

Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Were you ever waiting for a delayed flight in an airport and wished you could hop on a different plane to somewhere you have never been? Changing Planes is sort of like that except the different planes are actually fifteen societies not found on Earth. This is a short story collection that features the same main character who passes her long delay in an airport by visiting societies where the sole purpose is holiday shopping and another where adults are silent. Ursula K. Le Guin is known for her futuristic and imaginary worlds, and Changing Planes is no different.

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Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

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Two men meet in a twist of fate on a train: one a successful architect, Guy, who wants to divorce his wife and marry someone else, and the other a psychopath, Bruno, who wants his father dead. When the psychopath convinces the architect to “swap murders” with him so that neither has a motive for killing their victim and therefore avoid suspicion from police, Guy doesn’t take Bruno seriously. But when his wife ends up dead, Guy doesn’t know what to do. Bruno wants Guy to hold up his end of the bargain, and he’ll stop at nothing. This classic inspired the Hitchcock movie of the same name, so if you can’t read on trains, try the film, also at the UGL!

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Get the film!

Ghostland: an American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

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Okay, so this isn’t quite a roadtrip, but it does take you to some creepy spots around America! This book explores all those places you’ve heard of as “the most haunted mansion in America” or “the most haunted prison” and other, perhaps lesser known places. This book takes the reader through a different kind of history of America. This isn’t a book of ghost stories, but of tales of omitted history lessons and how we can learn from a ghost story.

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Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Fans of science fiction and historical fiction can unite with this time-travel slave narrative by the award-winning science fiction author Octavia Butler. Dana, an African-American writer in 1976, is launched into pre-Civil War Maryland plantation. She travels back and forth from the plantation and meets her ancestors, a spoiled and selfish slave-owner and a free woman forced into slavery. This novel explores power, gender, interracial relationships, race, violence and egalitarianism. If you like your fantasy or science fiction with a social justice bent, check out this title and others by Octavia Butler.

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Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

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We’ve all heard about Neil Armstrong. Where are the women? Margot Lee Shetterly’s book answers that question! This book, soon to be a movie, tells the story of four exceptional black women called from their jobs teaching high school math to join the WWII effort and the space race. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden worked through segregation and discrimination for three decades to help Americans reach space. Read a different space story this time!

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The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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After a financial crisis in which he loses everything, a Chinese immigrant businessman and his family embark on a cross-country road trip from Bel-Air to upstate New York where they will stay with their “art world it-girl” eldest daughter. Along the way, his wife is about to leave the family for 1000-threadcount sheets they can no longer afford, his son is losing it for a temptress in New Orleans, and many other laughs are to be had in this comical look at the American family. The UGL has the audiobook and the print version, perfect for your own cross-country trip this break, however you’ll be getting there.

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Get the audiobook

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