100 books like The Road to Los Angeles

By John Fante,

Here are 100 books that The Road to Los Angeles fans have personally recommended if you like The Road to Los Angeles. 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 On the Road

Adam Kuper Author Of The Museum of Other People: From Colonial Acquisitions to Cosmopolitan Exhibitions

From my list on books that helped me to grow up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in white South Africa, a racist, philistine, authoritarian, and puritanical society. The first four books I have chosen appeared in the 1950s, and I read them in my teens. Catch-22 was published in the ‘60s, but all five heroes–or anti-heroes–of these novels were of the same generation, about ten years my senior, so they were perfectly placed to be role models. They were rebels and mavericks, and except for Yossarian, they were all would-be writers. I recognised a kinship with them and took them as my guides into adulthood. And so I left for Paris and became a writer and an anthropologist. No regrets.

Adam's book list on books that helped me to grow up

Adam Kuper Why did Adam love this book?

This classic Beat Generation novel narrates a road trip by two young Americans, Sal Paradise (obviously Kerouac himself) and his friend Dean Moriarty. They ride from coast to coast without a plan, looking for adventure, calling on like-minded friends, and hoping to find some meaning in their lives.

Kerouac and his pals had a lot in common with the other heroes—and anti-heroes—of my youth, and like them, he was a joyful, fearless writer. 

By Jack Kerouac,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked On the Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naivete and wild ambition and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed…


Book cover of Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black

Joseph Ridgwell Author Of Burrito Deluxe

From my list on road novels of all time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with travel and novels that feature travel in the narrative since my early teens. A near-death experience at the age of nineteen, forced me to confront my own limited life experiences and encouraged me to travel the globe and see some of the world we live in before it was too late, as there’s nothing worse than too late. Also growing up on an inner city council estate instilled a desire to escape the urban environment and international travel and travel writing satisfied those compelling urges.

Joseph's book list on road novels of all time

Joseph Ridgwell Why did Joseph love this book?

This is a collection of short stories by John Waters bit-part actress—Cookie Mueller. Most of the well-crafted stories in this cult classic are autobiographical, and most feature the author’s travels around America and Europe, and the rest of the world. Cookie has a unique literary voice, and reading her stories it’s like you are actually getting to know the author personally. Criminally out of print for many years, this excellent book was recently re-published in the UK by Canongate. Unfortunately, Cookie died at the tender age of 40, and so was unable to fulfill her undoubted potential. 

By Cookie Mueller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first collected edition of legendary writer, actress, and adventurer Cookie Mueller's stories, featuring the entire contents of her 1990 book Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, alongside more than two dozen others, some previously unpublished.

Legendary as an underground actress, female adventurer, and East Village raconteur, Cookie Mueller's first calling was to the written word: "I started writing when I was six and have never stopped completely," she once confessed. Muellerís 1990 Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, the first volume of the Semiotext(e) Native Agents series, was the largest collection of stories…


Book cover of The Astonished Man

Joseph Ridgwell Author Of Burrito Deluxe

From my list on road novels of all time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with travel and novels that feature travel in the narrative since my early teens. A near-death experience at the age of nineteen, forced me to confront my own limited life experiences and encouraged me to travel the globe and see some of the world we live in before it was too late, as there’s nothing worse than too late. Also growing up on an inner city council estate instilled a desire to escape the urban environment and international travel and travel writing satisfied those compelling urges.

Joseph's book list on road novels of all time

Joseph Ridgwell Why did Joseph love this book?

Reading Balise Cendrars—The Astonished Manis like stepping into another universe, so strange, exotic, and weird are the tales he has to tell. Once again, travel and adventure are the main themes. But what’s real and what is unreal is almost impossible to tell as the author constantly blurs fact with fiction. There are tales of how he lost an arm, encounters with Mexican millionaires, gypsies, a stint in the French Foreign Legion, and vivid exploits in South America and Africa. The fact that this great writer is not better known is a constant source of bafflement, for his prose is dazzling, thought-provoking, and illuminating!

By Blaise Cendrars,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of Off the Road

Joseph Ridgwell Author Of Burrito Deluxe

From my list on road novels of all time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with travel and novels that feature travel in the narrative since my early teens. A near-death experience at the age of nineteen, forced me to confront my own limited life experiences and encouraged me to travel the globe and see some of the world we live in before it was too late, as there’s nothing worse than too late. Also growing up on an inner city council estate instilled a desire to escape the urban environment and international travel and travel writing satisfied those compelling urges.

Joseph's book list on road novels of all time

Joseph Ridgwell Why did Joseph love this book?

Although not a book about travel I feel this book fits the list, as it is essentially an extended love letter to both Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassady, who at certain stages in her life, were the lovers of the author. What this book also describes is how people who decide to stay at home, while their lovers and friends embark on endless road trips, survive the ordinary hardships of day-to-day living. The book is incredibly insightful and sheds new light on the lives of the aforementioned famous Beat Generation authors. It also warns that the perils of living in the moment, fast time, no responsibilities, does not always lead to a long and happy life. As I discovered during my own extensive travels, if you stay on the road too long, you might not be able to find your way home.

By Carolyn Cassady,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The wife of Neal Cassady describes her life in the American Beat subculture, her marriage to Cassady and love affair with Jack Kerouac, and her relationship with Allen Ginsberg. Reprint.


Book cover of Everything Is Illuminated

Deborah Gaal Author Of Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints

From my list on inducing laughter and tears on the same page.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nothing gives me more joy than painting stories in the colors of every human emotion in our spectrum.  And combining laughter and tears on the same page elicits a delicious thrill that keeps me sitting in the chair. It doesn’t happen to me on every page, (I’d be lying to say it did.) When it does, I don’t want to let it go. A former theater major (probably “a bad actor”) I started my novel-writing journey when I sent a resignation email to a few thousand employees I was managing at the time. “Hey girl, you made me laugh and cry in that email. Maybe you might think about writing.”

Deborah's book list on inducing laughter and tears on the same page

Deborah Gaal Why did Deborah love this book?

I was deeply affected by Foer’s descriptions of the shtetl in Poland, the cruelty that affected its villagers, and the inescapable effect of this tragedy on future generations. Foer’s ancestry mirrored what I knew of my own family history, and the desire we have to document those stories before they disappear. But Foer alternates the “old world’s” dramatic scenes with hilarity. The Polish blind driver who guides Foer on his search to discover his family’s past employs a “seeing eye bitch” (a dog) to help him navigate the countryside. And his narrator’s constant quirky misuse of English makes for a unique voice that I still—twenty years after reading the book—can’t get out of my head. The novel is at times heartbreaking, at times uproarious, and always oh-so-satisfying.  

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everything Is Illuminated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

This is the story of a young man who visits the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. In turns hilarious and harrowing, lit with a manic energy, it is narrated in part by a Ukranian translator, who has a murderous approach to the English language, and in part by the young man, who reanimates the lives of his grandfather and ancestors. Eventually the past meets the present, as fiction collides with reality in an unforgettable climax. With breathtaking inventiveness and narrative control, Jonathan Safran Foer has written a book about searching - for people…


Book cover of A Long Long Way

Mary Chamberlain Author Of The Forgotten

From my list on forgotten (or untold) histories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

History and literature have been my two passions in life, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a career in both. I’m fascinated in particular by history ‘from below,’ the stories of those disenfranchised – by gender, race, class – from the historical record. My non-fiction books, focusing on oral histories of women, and the Caribbean, reflect this. Untold histories continue in my fiction. My novels are set in WWII, telling parts of its history rarely encountered in the official record – of women trafficked and abused, of survival and misogyny, of the long shadow of war trauma on the soldiers who fought and the society that silenced them

Mary's book list on forgotten (or untold) histories of war

Mary Chamberlain Why did Mary love this book?

I think Sebastian Barry is one of the greatest contemporary novelists whose prose unfailingly sings, pirouettes, and enriches. I would recommend all his novels, which take various members of the Dunne or McNulty families over time and place. This particular novel is set in the First World War and follows Willie Dunne as he leaves Dublin to fight for the British, only to find himself caught on the wrong side at the Easter uprising and having to face his own countrymen. It is a brilliant depiction of a young Irish tommy out of his depth in a brutal war, fighting on the side of a country for whom he has mixed loyalties, of the ambivalence and tension of the Irish war of independence, and those caught in its cross hairs.

By Sebastian Barry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Long Long Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praised as a "master storyteller" (The Wall Street Journal) and hailed for his "flawless use of language" (Boston Herald), Irish author and playwright Sebastian Barry has created a powerful new novel about divided loyalties and the realities of war.

Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, is now available.

In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined…


Book cover of Less Than Zero

Ava Barry Author Of Double Exposure

From my list on cool, culty Los Angeles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to stories of miserable rich people, especially tales of how old money contorts lineage into something rotten. I grew up in Northern California, and while my family was comfortable, we weren’t part of the tennis club and yachting elite. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time exploring abandoned properties. It was a passion that I kept when I moved to Los Angeles as an adult and started to explore forgotten parts of Hollywood’s past. Los Angeles has always fascinated me because it embodies extreme wealth and extreme poverty: like the American dream itself, it straddles both extremes and promises everything while guaranteeing nothing.

Ava's book list on cool, culty Los Angeles

Ava Barry Why did Ava love this book?

This book is gorgeous. It’s about a group of spoiled-rotten high school friends who have started to drift apart after attending college. There’s an interesting backstory to this novel, too: Ellis wrote the first draft in eight weeks while high on crystal meth (don’t believe me? Read the Rolling Stone interview).

The minimalist prose and haunting theme of how overindulgence leads to chronic emptiness make a nihilistic meditation on excess.

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Less Than Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The timeless classic from the acclaimed author of American Psycho about the lost generation of 1980s Los Angeles who experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age. • The basis for the cult-classic film "Possesses an unnerving air of documentary reality." —The New York Times
They live in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money in a place devoid of feeling or hope. When Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college, he re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porsches,…


Book cover of Of Time and the River: A Legend of Man's Hunger in His Youth

Michael Stutz Author Of Circuits of the Wind: A Legend of the Net Age

From my list on big, lyrical, and packed with poetic prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

Poetry is language at its most condensed and pure, potent and direct—the closest thing to thought. At its best, this mode and method is cinematic and penetrates like a powerful dream, and bringing it to narrative prose in a legend and key that can be woven together, like a tapestry, has been my lifework. Nothing in this list is ancient or even old, nor is any of it newI've picked all books from the 20th century, because that was the world and writing that immediately influenced me, it's long enough past to be settled and safely buried, but still new enough to have some currency with the life and language of now.

Michael's book list on big, lyrical, and packed with poetic prose

Michael Stutz Why did Michael love this book?

I was so overwhelmed by the perfection of this American masterwork that I sought out the founder of The Thomas Wolfe Society, the greatest Thomas Wolfe collector who ever lived and who will ever live, and became his very close friend.

This is a huge book, with the music of pitch-perfect prosody from beginning to end, and yet it's only part of a much greater whole—every one of Wolfe's books connect together in some way, forming a massive cadency of music in words. If you examine them, there's only two main branches (Eugene Gant as the protagonist in one, and Monk Webber as the protagonist in the other). But it's really all one big expanding fable. This volume has, in my opinion, the richest writing, from the opening proem to the tiny diamond-sharp moving-picture painting of the final line.

By Thomas Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Of Time and the River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sequel to Thomas Wolfe's remarkable first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, Of Time and the River is one of the great classics of American literature. The book chronicles the maturing of Wolfe's autobiographical character, Eugene Gant, in his desperate search for fulfillment, making his way from small-town North Carolina to the wider world of Harvard University, New York City, and Europe. In a massive, ambitious, and boldly passionate novel, Wolfe examines the passing of time and the nature of the creative process, as Gant slowly but ecstatically embraces the urban life, recognizing it as a necessary ordeal for the birth…


Book cover of Exit Here.

Sasha Dawn Author Of Blink

From my list on realistic teen characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Human psychology has always fascinated me, and studying what drives human behavior is necessary in writing realistic characters. I bring psychological studies into every novel I write, and realistic characters, often flawed, always receive top billing. One of my hallmarks is presenting a story’s setting as a supporting character, as well—much like the books I’ve recommended. I have written and published seventeen titles, chock full of the many facets of the human condition, whether I’m writing for teens (as Sasha Dawn) or adults (as Brandi Reeds). The books on my list inspire, entertain, and perhaps most importantly feel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sasha's book list on realistic teen characters

Sasha Dawn Why did Sasha love this book?

Exit Here. was one of the first exhibits of teen literature I studied on my journey to publishing. Jason Myers portrays college-age Travis with the weight of traumatic experiences and the loft of the future spinning in his head. Readers are brought immediately into Travis’ headspace, wherein they feel all the trauma, excitement, and uncertainty Travis experiences. Because I wrote my Edgar finalist book from the male point of view, I reread Myers shortly before drafting. It’s a great example of human fallibility.

By Jason Myers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exit Here. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Exit here. Enter apathy. Jason Myers pushes the limits of teen fiction with this tale of love, addiction, and wrong choices.

Travis is back from college for the summer, and he's just starting to settle in to the usual pattern at home: drinking, drugging, watching porn, and hooking up.

But Travis isn't settling in like he used to; something isn't right. Maybe it's that deadly debauch in Hawaii, the memories of which Travis can't quite shake. Maybe it's Laura, Travis's ex, who reappears on the scene after a messy breakup and seems to want to get together -- or not.…


Book cover of The Moviegoer

Rich Marcello Author Of The Latecomers

From my list on contemporary fiction that will make you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been drawn to thought-provoking novels from my early days as a reader, and especially later when my own work took shape. My books tend to deal with life’s big topics––love, loss, creativity, self-discovery, aging, forgiveness, what it means to be a good man, and the climate crisis––so I tend to gravitate to ambitious novels focused on how we humans might evolve in a healthy way. My characters do have flaws, many of them, but in the end, they are resilient and figure out a way to take a step forward. All of the books I mentioned are similar in scope and approach.

Rich's book list on contemporary fiction that will make you think

Rich Marcello Why did Rich love this book?

The Moviegoer was the first novel I read which had little plot and a great deal of meaning. Basically, it’s about one man’s search for meaning in a world which values shallowness and consumerism above all else. It’s as relevant today as it was when written and the prose is amazing!

By Walker Percy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 1962 National Book Award and one of Time magazine’s 100 Best English-Language Novels, Walker Percy’s debut The Moviegoer is an American masterpiece and a classic of Southern literature. Insightful, romantic, and humorous, it is the story of a young man’s search for meaning amid a shallow consumerist landscape.

Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker, fills his days with movies and casual sex. His life offers him nothing worth retaining; what he treasures are scenes from The Third Man or Stagecoach, not the personal experiences he knows other people hold dear. On the cusp of turning thirty,…


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