Cookies for the Road (and for The Book of Maps)

Thanks again to TLC for the opportunity to read and review (and in my case, cook).  As I read to review, I always look for food tie-ins so I can include a recipe for each book.  (For all my TLC reviews, click here.)

This tour stop features The Book of Maps by Ernest Thompson.

About the book:

Publisher: Global Collective Publishers (October 25, 2022)

Hardcover: 480 pages

In the summer of 2002, Brendan Tibbet, a filmmaker whose luck has run low, takes his ten-year-old son Brenlyn on a raucous road trip across America. Following a 1930s travel guide Brendan purchased at a yard sale, the two-week trek from LA to New Hampshire covers 16 states, hitting the iconic stops along the way, Yosemite, the Great Salt Lake, Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, replete with wild exploits both hilarious and perilous, but it’s the interior journey that is enlightening, deeply poignant and life-changing.

Brendan assures the boy that each state will be an adventure, and on the second day proves it, seeing the kid washed away in fast-moving rapids, then foolishly putting them both in danger by refusing to back down to the massive black bear invading their campsite. That’s Brendan, impetuous and foolhardy, inciting trouble wherever he goes, a man with demons and bubbling angst. But neither of those missteps, or the many and scarier ones to follow, can begin to compare to the threatening storm cloud hanging over the expedition: the father’s struggle to find the perfect, worst time to reveal to his son the news that will break his heart and affect everything to follow.

Ernest Thompson’s debut novel is a skillful, magical piece of 20th-century fin de siècle writing depicting a United States that, even in the aftermath of 9-11, seems almost innocent contrasted to the horrors and divisions, racism and rage challenging us now. The Book of Maps, with its powerful father-son relationship and one man’s relentless albeit unintentional quest to evolve into the better angel we all aspire to be, will capture the imagination of readers and leave them wanting to relive this mad, irresistibly moving, ridiculously funny, reflective and inspiring cross-country odyssey again and again.

About the author:

Ernest Thompson’s work has won an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, Writers Guild and Broadway Drama Guild Awards and been nominated for a Tony, an Emmy and a British Academy Award. His plays have been seen in theatres around the world, his most enduring, On Golden Pond, translated into 30 languages and presented in more than 40 countries. Current projects include the film sequel to On Golden Pond, the plays Some Parts Missing and Ask/Answer, and the novel Out Clause coming in 2023. With his writer wife Kerrin Thompson, he established Rescind Recidivism, a prison writing program giving inmates a chance to feel creative as well as human, capable and worthy.

Learn more at

What I thought…

I was excited to receive this novel as Thompson’s reputation precedes him with On Golden Pond.   While the premise is good, I sometimes wanted the big words to stop (and I am a big word lover)!

The fact was, Brendan typically declined to converse normally.  He found it tedious.  We’re all allotted a finite number of words in our lives and so many sentences to bend them into, why not give them color and shape and musicality?  That was Brendan’s philosophy.  Why not piss other people off?  And anybody who didn’t know what knights-errant meant should renew her library card. (6)

The imperial and pretentious conversation style even bothers his son.   Brenlyn points out his dad has no friends because he knows “too many words” and makes “other people feel ignorant” (90).

I sometimes thought that Thompson’s writing was echoing Brenden’s philosophy as he had his main character picturing is life like a “lissom screenwriter’s script”(108) to include as many words as possible (and as many imagined plot scenarios as possible).

Besides the effluvium of wordage, the plot was just a lot.  The premise is sound, though.  The impetus for  the trip is a retro book of maps. Brenden promises a road trip to end all trips.  He promises his reluctant young son a rollicking good time:

‘…we’ll camp out and we’ll hike and go skinny-dipping and drink beer and go to cathouses and rob banks.  Who wouldn’t want to drive across America with his dad?” (viii)

There really are bear encounters, white water rafting (without a raft), altercations with skin heads, a library theft, a jail stint and a missing child.

Just when I thought the tale would pick up, the viewpoint starts changing more and more.   Characters are introduced and the reader now has to keep up with three more POVs.   There’s also some parallels between the father’s memory of a similar trek when he was seven.

There is some poignant writing and the wisdom that the son imparts to all in South Dakota will stay with me.

The food…

There’s lots of fritos in the car and quite a few lentils cooked over a campfire.  I just thought about road trips and what we like to take along.


Road Trip Cookies

Debra  (Based on Peanut Butter Cookies from Gourmet)

A classic cookie with a hint of cinnamon.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. raw turbinado sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 1-2 baking sheets with silicon pads or parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter and brown sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Beat in egg. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and beat at low speed just until a dough forms.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out into small balls. Roll each ball in the raw sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to slightly smash.
  4. Bake in batches until done (10-15 minutes). Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack.

Yield: 3-4 dozen (depending on size of scoop)

These cookies travel well and freeze well.


Ironically, this is the third book in succession that I’ve read lately involving road trips.

First up was The English Major by Jim Harrison.  There’s a divorce in that book as well and I was also anxious to read it as I loved Legends of the Fall (both in print and on the screen).

Next I read The Long Way Home by Karen McQuestion.  The story is interesting: a shut-in, a widow, a grieving mother and a psychic set out for Las Vegas. These almost strangers definitely bond along the way.

Unfortunately, these all merited a three star rating.   Maybe I should just set out on my own road trip (with these cookies).

I’m linking up with November’s Foodies Read.

Please check out what others on the tour thought:


Wednesday, November 2nd: @kristens.reading.nook

Sunday, November 6th: Stranded in Chaos

Wednesday, November 9th:  Eliot’s Eats

Friday, November 11th:  Lit and Life

Sunday, November 13th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, November 14th: Books Cooks Looks

Wednesday, November 16th:  @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie 

Sunday, November 20th: @cmtlovesbooksandwine

Wednesday, November 23rd: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Wednesday, November 23rd: @subakka.bookstuff

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