100 books like The Dharma Bums

By Jack Kerouac,

Here are 100 books that The Dharma Bums fans have personally recommended if you like The Dharma Bums. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Overstory

Tina Muir Author Of Becoming a Sustainable Runner: A Guide to Running for Life, Community, and Planet

From my list on helping you process emotions around climate.

Who am I?

FernGully was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and it made me really think about the natural world and how humans interact with it. Now, aged 35 with kids of my own (who also love FernGully), I consider myself a climate activist for the work I do in helping everyday people to believe they can be a part of the solution to climate change. As an author, podcast host, and community builder, I've connected with other humans with fascinating passions, perspectives, and values. I want to show my audience that we can all view the world differently, but there is one important thing we need to all believe, that we matter.

Tina's book list on helping you process emotions around climate

Tina Muir Why did Tina love this book?

I genuinely believe one of the most important ways we can improve our health and outlook on life is through connecting with nature, immersing our bodies in it as often as we can, to ground ourselves and reconnect. We are hard-wired to feel at ease in nature and studies back that up. 

I loved The Overstory, as Richard Powers shares about the interconnectedness of our world in the most beautiful way. It is impossible to come out the other side of that book without viewing the natural world differently, without being grateful for even being alive. 

My purpose is to show my community that their voices, their actions, their choices matter. The Overstory reminds us of the resilience of the natural world and gives us a reason to keep planting seeds, both physically and metaphorically, to care for our planet.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

28 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…


Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

Ryan Bernsten Author Of 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy

From my list on nonfiction about the great American road trip.

Who am I?

I’m a Midwest-based speaker, writer, and theatre-maker. I received my Creative Writing Master's from the University of Oxford where I was given a grant to travel to all 50 states to research my first book, 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy and started the companion podcast 50 States of Mind. I'm a contributor for The Infatuation and have been published in USA Today, The Fulcrum, and The Oxford Political Review. You may have seen me chatting with Helen Mirren as a Slytherin contestant on Harry Potter: Tournament of Houses. I’m currently the Senior Managing Editor at The Trevor Project, overseeing editorial strategy to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.

Ryan's book list on nonfiction about the great American road trip

Ryan Bernsten Why did Ryan love this book?

John Steinbeck's iconic memoir Travels with Charley chronicles his cross-country journey with his loyal pooch. (Following in Steinbeck’s footsteps, I found my own travel companion – a Toyota Prius named Belinda.)

This travelogue captures the essence of America in the early 1960s, as Steinbeck explores the country in a similar moment of cultural upheaval to the one we’re facing today. With Steinbeck's signature wit and keen observations, this book remains a classic road trip narrative with a gravitas that only Steinbeck can bring.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

12 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…


Book cover of The Road

Stephen Benz Author Of Topographies

From my list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Who am I?

Traveling, meeting people, hearing stories, learning about places and landscapes—this is what my writing is all about. Sometimes it takes the form of nonfiction, sometimes poetry. I’ve had a wandering spirit from early on, finding joy and wonder as a child while sitting in the backseat on road trips, or taking the bus cross-state, or (best of all) riding on a train going anywhere. Reading Kerouac’s On the Road brought everything together: heading out with no particular destination in mind other than finding oneself on the road. And then writing it all down, telling the story. Here are some books that have rekindled the Kerouac spirit for me.

Stephen's book list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Stephen Benz Why did Stephen love this book?

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.

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,…


Book cover of Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

Ed Davis Author Of The Last Professional

From my list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust.

Who am I?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.

Ed's book list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust

Ed Davis Why did Ed love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

Ed Davis Author Of The Last Professional

From my list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust.

Who am I?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.

Ed's book list on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust

Ed Davis Why did Ed love this book?

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!

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…


Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Joanne McLaughlin Author Of Chasing Ashes

From my list on digging out when life just buries you.

Who am I?

That moment when you realize, whew, you’ve survived the catastrophe, but the greater challenge lies ahead? That intrigues me. Maybe that’s because my grandmother was struck by a Vespa in Italy when I was five years old, and we traveled home by ship through a hurricane that rocked much of the East Coast. Stories about “What’s next?” and “How do we push the rubble away?” are my go-to now, as they were during the years I worked as a journalist, first as a reporter, then for much longer as an editor. After my husband’s death in 2011, clearing the rubble yielded the first two installments of my vampire trilogy. 

Joanne's book list on digging out when life just buries you

Joanne McLaughlin Why did Joanne love this book?

I used to be paid to ponder the end of the world as we know it: I was a health editor during the early years of the COVID pandemic; at the same time, I was editing environmental stories.

What I loved most about this book is that the worst has already occurred, and the protagonist, a teenager, chooses her own new way to navigate what’s still to come. I was engaged by the concepts of resilience as a survival skill, reinvention as a necessity, and rebirth as an act of personal and global faith.

I am not a fan of religion as such, but this book made me believe.  

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

21 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…


Book cover of The Crossing

Seth Wynes Author Of SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

From my list on fiction about our place in nature.

Who am I?

Seth Wynes is a climate researcher studying how everyday people can fight climate change more effectively. His work has been featured in media outlets from around the world including The New York Times, NPR, and The Guardian. Before pursuing an academic career, Seth was a high school science teacher in England and Northern Quebec, and still draws inspiration for his research from the questions and concerns raised by his students. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Seth's book list on fiction about our place in nature

Seth Wynes Why did Seth love this book?

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.”

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…


Book cover of The Stone Sky

Stephen Kearse Author Of Liquid Snakes

From my list on that are actually about revenge.

Who am I?

I like stories about vengeance because they, by definition, have to center a character’s goals and obsessions. Great storytellers take that fixation and use it to probe the experiences and ideas that fuel the desire for revenge. Does the avenger truly understand what they are embarking on? Is the object of their ire truly deserving of that wrath? I like questions like these because they foreground the role of desire in decision-making, and desire is always personal, circumscribed by our appetites, biases, and intentions. I care little about a character being likable. I want to know what they like and to see what they’re willing to do to get it. 

Stephen's book list on that are actually about revenge

Stephen Kearse Why did Stephen love this book?

I recommend the entire Broken Earth trilogy, but the final book does the most interesting things with the series’ latticework of narrative symmetry. By this point, it’s clear that a mother and her daughter are the centerpieces of the story, and that they are both on track to collide. As they draw nearer and their journeys beget staggering losses and sacrifices, they switch polarities and the daughter, once meek, challenges her warrior mother, who has pacified after a life of war and loss. And amid all this is a story about why the Earth, which is a living being, rages against humanity. The layers amplify the thrills of the payoffs and reversals, and subtly unpack the cyclicity of revenge.

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…


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

Laurence Cox Author Of The Irish Buddhist: The Forgotten Monk Who Faced Down the British Empire

From my list on Buddhism and the West.

Who am I?

I’ve been a street musician, set up kindergartens, worked in special needs education, and run wood-fired showers in a field for meditation retreats. I’m also associate professor of sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. I became a Buddhist partly out of interest in a very different culture and started wondering how Buddhism got from Asia to the West. I think about this through my own experience of teaching meditation, being an activist for 35 years, living in five countries, and learning ten languages: what do you have to do to make an idea come alive in a different culture? 

Laurence's book list on Buddhism and the West

Laurence Cox Why did Laurence love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Belden C. Lane Author Of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

From my list on spirituality and wilderness.

Who am I?

Belden Lane is a wilderness backpacker and storyteller who has written extensively on the connections between human spiritual experience and the power of place. As Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University he taught theology and spirituality for thirty-five years with the Jesuits. Drawing on backpacking trips in the canyonlands of Utah, the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and the Australian outback, his books include Landscapes of the Sacred, Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice, and The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

Belden's book list on spirituality and wilderness

Belden C. Lane Why did Belden love this book?

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!

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Beat Generation, wanderlust, and dharma?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Beat Generation, wanderlust, and dharma.

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