From vibrant cities teeming with culture to awe-inspiring landscapes cloaked in near-silence, North America is awash with exciting stories waiting to be discovered.
Whether you're seeking some inspiration for your next group holiday in the USA or simply want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of your chosen destination, losing yourself for a few hours in the pages of classic, modern and contemporary books is the perfect place to start.
The Bostonians, Henry James
Destination: East USA & New England
As the title of this book suggests, The Bostonians is set in Boston. One of Henry James's lesser-known novels, it tells the story of two cousins - Olive Chancellor, a Bostonian, and Basil Ransom, a New York lawyer. Taking her cousin to a political meeting, Olive becomes fascinated by feminist speaker Verena - as does Basil. The story follows Verena's life as she moves in with Olive and embarks on a romance with Basil, with a political Boston as a vivid backdrop.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
Destination: Southwest USA
Now a cult classic film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas began as a surreal book that takes the reader on the strangest journey through the Nevada desert and Sin City that they are ever likely to take. Following the protagonists Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo as they chase the American Dream, this vivid read provides one of the most memorable - and bizarre - looks at Vegas.
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Destination: Deep South
Having won a Pulitzer Prize and the hearts of millions of avid readers, To Kill A Mockingbird is an absolute must-read if you're travelling to the Deep South. Portraying the lives of young siblings Scout and Jem Finch, the novel follows their loss of innocence as they begin to understand the true nature of the intolerant south during their father's defence of a black man charged with raping a white girl.
America Unchained, Dave Gorman
Best-known for his comedy, Dave Gorman has also authored several books - each with its own humorous slant. While having plenty of witty moments, America Unchained is slightly different, as Gorman attempts to drive across the USA fuelling his car only at independent gas stations. His whole adventure focuses on uncovering the USA behind the chain stores and big-name brands, having all kinds of weird and wonderful encounters along the way.
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
Destination: New York
Set in late 19th-century New York, The Age of Innocence is a powerful portrait of contemporary upper-class society. It tells the tale of Newland Archer, his new bride Mary Welland, and her controversial cousin the Countess Olenska, exploring this narrow and declining society along the way. Rich and emotional, it is a brilliant book for those who want to get a taste of the city's past.
Stephen Fry in America, Stephen Fry
A great read for anyone planning to travel across America, Stephen Fry in America is Fry's written account of his journey across the USA in a black taxi cab. Accompanying a six-part TV series of the same name, this book details his epic adventure across 50 states, all with his characteristic wit and intelligence.
Icefields, Thomas Wharton
Winner of the Banff Grand Prize for Literature and a host of other awards, Icefields is the perfect read if you'll be venturing into the Canadian Rockies. Set in the icefields of the Rockies, it follows the story of a man who slipped while glacier walking and tumbled into a crevasse - and what follows is a fascinating journey into the nature of the human spirit.
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
The bestselling book that spawned the 2007 critically acclaimed movie of the same name sees Krakauer follow in the footsteps of Christopher McCandless, whose body was found in an abandoned bus in Alaska in 1992. Krakauer's account explores not only the fascinating wilderness of Alaska, but how people integrate into the state in a journey of self-discovery.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Destination: New York
Written in the early 20th century, The Great Gatsby is deservedly considered one of the finest American novels ever written. It provides a piercing look through the glitz and glamour of wealthy life in New York into the hollowness of the American Dream in a story that still resonates today. A true classic, it is a wonderful read not only if you plan to visit New York, but anywhere in the USA.