10 books like The Road to Los Angeles

By John Fante,

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

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On the Road

By Jack Kerouac,

Book cover of On the Road

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. 

On the Road

By Jack Kerouac,

Why should I read it?

7 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…


Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black

By Cookie Mueller,

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

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. 

Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black

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…


The Astonished Man

By Blaise Cendrars,

Book cover of The Astonished Man

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!

The Astonished Man

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


Off the Road

By Carolyn Cassady,

Book cover of Off the Road

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.

Off the Road

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.


Everything Is Illuminated

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Everything Is Illuminated

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.  

Everything Is Illuminated

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything Is Illuminated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

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…


A Long Long Way

By Sebastian Barry,

Book cover of A Long Long Way

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.

A Long Long Way

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…


Of Time and the River

By Thomas Wolfe,

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

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.

Of Time and the River

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…


Exit Here.

By Jason Myers,

Book cover of Exit Here.

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.

Exit Here.

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.

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.…


Less Than Zero

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Book cover of Less Than Zero

Most people know Brett Easton Ellis as the author behind American Psycho, the brilliant and often misunderstood satire about the nihilism of Wall Street culture. With all the controversy and misconceptions around that book, all too many readers neglect to read his first masterpiece, Less than Zero.

Ellis wrote this book when he was twenty years old, which is an incredible feat. As someone who has seen the corrupt, nihilistic, and cynical world of the rich and dysfunctional from the inside, I find this book to be not only spot on but exceedingly frightening. The world that he describes is very much based on the one where he grew up, a world where nobody really cares about anything or anyone, and where the only thing that matters is your trust fund and your drugs.

Less Than Zero

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Why should I read it?

4 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,…


The Moviegoer

By Walker Percy,

Book cover of The Moviegoer

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!

The Moviegoer

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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