“I’ve lost the flavor and taste and sound of it,” said John Steinbeck. “I’m going to learn about my own country.” And off he set on a several-month trek across the United States in 1960 with his giant poodle Charley, exploring the landscape and conversing with his fellow Americans. At times it seems he discovered as much to dishearten as to delight him: racism, bigotry, urban decay…. So why add this title to my “Books to Inspire” list, you ask? Travels With Charley is a fascinating snapshot of America at an important point in our collective history, seen through the eyes of a literary giant – someone who certainly didn’t have to chuck his life of comfort to travel the back roads of America in a wheeled contraption best described as a “mobile cabin.” Besides, filled with anecdotes both heart-warming and humorous, Steinbeck’s travel memoir just might inspire you to hit the road, hound at your side, in search of the good that America has to offer.