On the Road

By Jack Kerouac,

Book cover of On the Road

Book description

The legendary novel of freedom and the search for authenticity that defined a generation, now in a striking new Pengiun Classics Deluxe Edition

Inspired by Jack Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked On the Road as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

There may or may not be a campaign to erase dead white men from the canon, but in defense of the bards, this joint was written in the 1950s and the youth that it portrays is so damn cool.

Picture the James Dean-esque teenager, white t-shirt, denims, bandanna hanging from them, running wild across the country with the boys, hitchhiking, stealing cars, hooking up with girls delightfully young and naive.

I tell you, the best form of writing will always be living. This really sings. Written in a stream of consciousness with twang and slang, On The Road inspired a…

This is the bible for the Beat generation and a glimpse into the jazz poetry road trip art world of 1950s America.

I read it before travelling to the US on a scholarship to help give me a sense of the Americana and youth culture I hope I would find.

I travelled all around the States excited by motels and road signs and railroad stations and telegraph poles laden with cables running off to disappear over the horizon. And those big old cars…

It’s such a physical story, so full of vigour and sweat.

From Christopher's list on for travelling vagabonds.

On the Road is the mother of all 20th-century American road trips. It’s a mad rush West, an impetuous quest for life and friendship, as experienced by the protagonist, Sal Paradise. This is Kerouac’s episodic account of his own restless relationships among transients who question, postpone, reject, or can’t afford the post-World War II American dream of house, spouse, car, career, and kids. What I love about this iconic American road story is Kerouac’s authenticity, his thirst for life, his human fallibility, his truth. 

The voice of the Beatnik era lives on through the experiences of On the Road by a young Jack Kerouac who glamorized a culture of a lost and aimless youth to take to the road in search of adventure despite limited financial means and explored the mindset of those that were too young to serve in World War II or remained home in post-war America.

While his story is positively inspiring and thought provoking, I feel that many people have missed a major moral of his story On the Road, and I encourage readers who pick this story up…

On the Road is the adult version (mature readers only) of the all the above. However, for me, the book squarely fits my personal category of works where I miss what other people see (what unnerved and even disgusted other people) to instead see what resonated with me, and which has since stuck. And that is the poetry of the work. I genuinely believe Kerouac was a poet in a long since era of prose. So he did what he could, and his inspiration came of a poetical heart. Chiefly, I see the work as one in which working and…

From Joe's list on buddies in a bind.

On the Road by King of the Beats—Jack Kerouac—is where it all began for me. Looking for ways to escape the dreary inner-city council estate I grew up on, books such as, On the Road, served to both inspire me and satisfy the need for escapism in my life. I read this great book when I was fifteen, and saying that it changed my life is an understatement! Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise crisscrossing America on endless car journeys, with some of the best topographical writing you’ll ever read. These epic trips conjured up enticing images that encouraged me…

From Joseph's list on road novels of all time.

This is the only book on my list that isn’t a comedy. But it’s 100% real, as Kerouac chronicles his Bohemian wanderings across the USA in his young-adult years. What it shares with the other titles is the joy of the unknown and the surprise of the unanticipated as Kerouac lives a sort of “stream-of-consciousness” existence. He encounters strangers, pairs up with some, drifts off again, and opens himself up to new experiences and possibilities. Sometimes it results in happy accidents, other times in heartbreak. That this is a true story without a plot, written in real time as it…

From Marty's list on real people, real jobs, real lives.

“I looked at the high cracked ceilings and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared, I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost…I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then that strange red afternoon.”

When I read these words set the book down and stared up at my own ceiling. Never before had I read someone captured the…

From Heather's list on for hikertrash and other vagabonds.

On the Road is Jack Kerouac's rhapsody to the same types of freedom longed for/found by the characters that populate the film "Zoomland." His frantic writing and adventures always make me want to get back in my old VW camper and head – most anywhere.

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