10 books like The Dharma Bums

By Jack Kerouac,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Dharma Bums. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Overstory

By Richard Powers,

Book cover of The Overstory

A Pulitzer Prize winner and global bestseller—The Overstory is one of the most successful and widely read works of environmental fiction. It’s a complex novel, weaving together nine separate stories of Americans whose close connections with trees spur them to protect the forests. The story is divided into four sections—root, trunk, crown, and seeds, reflecting the life cycle of trees. If it strikes you that combining nine separate narratives through four cycles is complicated, then you’re right—this is no easy read. Many of the characters endure terrible hardships too—from family tragedy to paralysis and untimely deaths, but there is optimism and above all the book is an inspiring, thought-provoking homage to trees.

The Overstory

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Overstory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…


Travels with Charley in Search of America

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

This is the story of Steinbeck traveling around the country for three months in a truck camper with his dog Charlie. The aging writer set out to rediscover the real America that he had been writing about his whole career. In the process he not only gains a new understanding of the country but of himself. For me, it was fascinating looking at the United States through 1960 eyes and realizing that while much has changed, we still face many of the same issues they dealt with then. Like my own experiences it was also a wonderful reminder that we grow from taking on challenging adventures. 

Travels with Charley in Search of America

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


The Road

By Jack London,

Book cover of The Road

Jack London lived and died before Kerouac was born, so it’s more accurate to say that On the Road channels the spirit of London’s book, published some 50 years before Kerouac’s masterpiece. The Road is a compelling memoir about tramping across the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. London anticipates Kerouac’s bohemian spirit as he rides the rails with vagabonds, hoboes, and tramps (as London explains, there’s a difference among them). To my mind, The Road is an underappreciated American classic, poetically evoking that quintessential American characteristic, restlessness—the deep-seated desire to “follow the breeze.” Fifty years later, Kerouac stuck out his thumb and followed in London’s footsteps.

The Road

By Jack London,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I went on 'The Road' because I couldn't keep away from it; because I hadn't the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn't work all my life on 'one same shift'; because — well, just because it was easier to than not to."
Jack London's "road" is the railroad, and these reminiscences paint a vivid portrait of life in the United States during the major economic depression of the 1890s. His compelling adventures include a month-long detention in a state penitentiary for vagrancy, as well as his travels with Kelly's Army,…


Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

By D.C. Jesse Burkhardt,

Book cover of Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

All of us who survived our own version of an Unruly Youth will find much to admire, and much that resonates, in this riveting account of one young man’s quest for identity, and for answers to his fundamental questions about life. He journeys along a “pipeline to freedom" on a bed of steel, ties, and gravel, never sure where his path will carry him from day-to-day. Travelogue From an Unruly Youth carries us into a hidden and unconventional world, weaving a romantic tale of roadside mystery and the universe-altering power of love.

Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

By D.C. Jesse Burkhardt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travelogue From an Unruly Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traveling the North American continent via freight train brought freedom, passion, romance, adventure, and danger -- a heady concoction for someone in his early 20s. The writer journeyed along a "pipeline to freedom" on a bed of steel, ties, and gravel, never sure where his path would carry him from day to day. Yet part of the cost to those nomadic highs was leaving behind a woman who cared dearly for him, and that severing continued to reach him even as he blasted magically across the map on a unique geographic and spiritual quest. After long months and thousands of…


Search and Rescue Alaska

By Tracy Salcedo,

Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

Sometimes wanderlust makes us wander farther than we should. I devoured this book! Part history, part thriller, part downright unbelievable, there is adventure and heroism on every page. I'm not sure that truth is always stranger than fiction, but in Tracy’s able hands it is every bit as exciting. Strap on your snowshoes!

Search and Rescue Alaska

By Tracy Salcedo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Search and Rescue Alaska as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a place as vast and extreme as Alaska, no one takes safety for granted. Whether adventurer or homesteader, tourist or native, people look out for themselves and for each other. But sometimes it just goes bad, and no amount of resourcefulness or resiliency can make it right. That's when search and rescue teams kick into gear, launching operations by air and by land that have generated amazing tales of heroism, tenacity, and human kindness. Some of those stories have been gathered in Search and Rescue Alaska, including:
*Rescues on Denali, North America's highest peak, from the mountain's first search…


Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler,

Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Released in 1993, the dystopian story it tells begins in 2024. This grabbed me because back when I read George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1984 seemed like the distant future. I didn’t think anything in the book could happen in my lifetime. But history proved me wrong. Butler’s version of 2024 is overwhelmingly negative, and there are some elements that ring true now. But the plot is interesting and kept me reading even when the story was grim. I like Lauren, the main character, because she keeps looking for ways to survive and help others. She believes if we are willing to change and adapt, we can create a better future for those who come after us. I believe that too.

Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI

--

We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…


The Crossing

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Crossing: Border Trilogy

Hundreds of pages into this book is a passage about the detonation of an atomic bomb which you could read and enjoy ten times and yet never catch the historical moment playing out before you. The Crossing is full of these layered, quiet chords that make you question what else you’re missing. No one makes me feel the profoundness of loss that our planet is experiencing more than McCarthy. Already we have lost landscapes and species, yes, but also individual creatures with their own wants and hurts and personalities. McCarthy’s deliberate but gorgeous writing makes you pause and dwell on that loss. In his own words, “Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.”

The Crossing

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy fulfills the promise of All the Pretty Horses and at the same time give us a work that is darker and more visionary, a novel with the unstoppable momentum of a classic western and the elegaic power of a lost American myth.

In the late 1930s, sixteen-year-old Billy Parham captures a she-wolf that has been marauding his family's ranch.  But instead of killing it, he decides to take it back to the mountains of Mexico.  With that crossing, he begins an arduous and often dreamlike journey into a country where men meet ghosts and violence…


The Stone Sky

By N.K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The Stone Sky

The name of the trilogy, Broken Earth, says it all for me. Reading through Jemisin’s descriptions of a fantastical world that is rocky, barren, and volatile engenders a sense of gratitude for the abundance and color of our own planet. The world-building is believable, her characters are rich and the magical mechanics that underwrite existence are creative and fascinating.

The Stone Sky

By N.K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Stone Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD
WINNER OF THE NEBULA AWARD
WINNER OF THE LOCUS AWARD FOR BEST FANTASY
An Amazon Best Book of the Year

The incredible conclusion to the record-breaking triple Hugo award-winning trilogy that began with the The Fifth Season

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the phenomenal power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every outcast child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother's mastery of the…


Big Sky Mind

By Carole Tonkinson,

Book cover of Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation

One of the first places I heard about Buddhism was through Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Gary Snyder. The joy of reading Kerouac has worn off a bit, but Snyder and Ginsberg have become lifetime companions and real sources of inspiration for me, not least in their engagement with Buddhism. This collection of poems, essays, letters, and other writings brings them together with a much wider range of writers – Diane di Prima and Philip Whalen, Anne Waldman and Kenneth Rexroth, William Burroughs and Lawrence Ferlinghetti – showing how the best minds of two generations heard, felt and responded to Buddhism in their many different ways. It’s a real treasure-house of words.

Big Sky Mind

By Carole Tonkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Sky Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Essays, poems, photographs, and letters explore the link between Buddhism and the Beats--with previously unpublished material from several beat writers, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, and Diane diPrima.


The Practice of the Wild

By Gary Snyder,

Book cover of The Practice of the Wild: Essays

A Buddhist activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning beat generation poet, Snyder celebrates “wildness” as a moral principle. It gives value to the living world and invites us to the wild places within, the inner wilderness that carries us beyond the comforting assurances of the mind. He cautions against looking for metaphorical and spiritual meanings “beyond and through” the natural world. This risks our not “seeing what is before our very eyes: plain thusness” … which in itself is more than enough to astound!

The Practice of the Wild

By Gary Snyder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Practice of the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This is an important book for anyone interested in the ethical interrelationships of things, places, and people, and it is a book that is not just read but taken in." ―Library Journal

Featuring a new introduction by Robert Hass, the nine captivatingly meditative essays in The Practice of the Wild display the deep understanding and wide erudition of Gary Snyder in the ways of Buddhist belief, wildness, wildlife, and the world. These essays, first published in 1990, stand as the mature centerpiece of Snyder’s work and thought, and this profound collection is widely accepted as one of the central texts…


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