Trains in the United States are becoming a thing again. Recently Amtrak has launched a Writers in Residence program of which I am INSANELY jealous and plan on applying at some point (hopefully the program will take off like wildfire and be available for many years to come.) But in the meantime I will have to bide my time with fantasies and books. NPR recently created a list for summer reading which all have something to do with trains. Here are some more great reads where trains are a main character.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of year, but by the morning there was one passenger fewer. An American lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside...Red herrings galore are put in the path of Hercule Poirot to try to keep him off the scent, but in a dramatic denouement he succeeds in coming up with not one but two solutions to the crime.
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux. In this unique and hugely entertaining railway odyssey, Theroux vividly recounts his travels--and the people, places, and landscapes he encountered--on the Orient Express, the Khyber Mail, and the Trans-Siberian Express, through such countries as Turkey, Iran, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Soviet Union.
Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith. A wonderful new stand-alone novel from the internationally beloved and best-selling Alexander McCall Smith: a story that explores the nature of love--and trains--through a series of intertwined romantic tales.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Described by William Faulkner as the best novel ever written and by Fyodor Dostoevsky as "flawless," Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and thereby exposes herself to the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.
Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hoboes by Ted Conover. In Ted Conover's first book, now back in print, he enters a segment of humanity outside society and reports back on a world few of us would chose to enter but about which we are all curious. Hoboes fascinated Conover, but he had only encountered them in literature and folk songs. So, he decided to take a year off and ride the rails. Equipped with rummage-store clothing, a bedroll, and a few other belongings, he hops a freight train in St. Louis, becoming a tramp in order to discover their peculiar culture. The men and women he meets along the way are by turns generous and mistrusting, resourceful and desperate, philosophical and profoundly cynical. And the narrative he creates of his travels with them is unforgettable and moving.
Riding the Rails: Tourist Guide to America's Scenic Train Rides by William C. Herow. Take a trip back in time on the "Iron Horse" along America's scenic rails. Thanks to the many enthusiastic people who refused to let the "Iron Horse" rest, the 91 excursions featured have been brought back to life.
An American Journey by Rail by Dudley Witney and Timothy Jacobson. This book conducts the reader on a rail tour of the USA, showing the spectacular scenery through which some of the far-flung railroads run and the faded glory of the trains and stations on route. A view of American life and history is revealed.