Travel Book of the Month: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Earlier this year I felt I needed to challenge myself in reading, because last year I’ve read a shamefully low amount of books and this needed to change in 2016. You can call it a New Years’ Resolution and whatnot, but the truth is I decided to include a mandatory travel-related book to read each month besides the normal books I read (this are usually very spontaneous reads, even though I have dozens of lists of books I want to read, I usually end up reading what I can find on my parent’s bookshelf or books recommended and lent by friends).

I’ve made a list of 12 travel books I want to read this year, of which half were written by men and half by women authors, just to ensure the diversity of it all. I promise that I won’t spoil the ending and will purely talk about these books from a personal perspective and hopefully we can open up a dialogue about your own opinions and even recommendations! So without further ado, here’s the legendary On the Road by Jack Kerouac!

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Who, When, Where?

On the Road was written by Jack Kerouac, an American writer and somewhat of a leader of the post-war Beat and Counterculture generation in 1951. Apparently Kerouac wrote the book in only 3 weeks based on notes of his own adventures across North America. Some of the main characters of the book, including the narrator and main protagonist, Sal Paradise, are real-life references of some of the greatest figures of the beat movement. Kerouac wrote the book on a continuous sheet of paper, often referred to as “the scroll”, which was 36 meters long and which was cut, sized and taped together by the author himself.

Long Story Short

The books is about the cross-country adventures of Sal Paradise and his pal Dean Moriarty, the latter being admired for his carefree attitude towards life in general, while Sal tries to keep up with him. The novel is mostly autobiographical, since Sal Paradise is the alter ego of Kerouac himself and Dean being that of his best friend during the late 1940’s, Neal Cassady. A photo of the two can be seen on the cover of the copy of the book.

Who is it for?

For those in need of that final push before they decide they want to go on an adventure!

Favorite Quote

Jack Kerouac On the Road Quote

When to Read it?

I would definitely advise you to read it when you have proper time and a sense of calm around you. A little jazz music wouldn’t hurt either! The book is made up of 5 main parts, and I’d definitely recommend sitting down to read only when you know you can make your way through a whole chapter without any interruptions, because then you can really delve into the hyper atmosphere of the book!

Is there a Movie? Is it any Good?

Walter Salles directed a pretty energetic movie of On the Road in 2012, but I only saw the trailer of it and I’m not really sure if I want to see the movie. In my experience the book is always better than the movie (I hadn’t seen it any other way yet), although I do tend to watch them just out of curiosity, so maybe I will one day – I’ll just let the book make its lasting impression on me so it doesn’t ruin the whole On the Road experience. But I am curious – if you’ve seen it, is it worth watching? 

In My Honest Opinion…

There were specific parts of the book which I’ve really loved and some which I really hated. I loved the ambiguity I felt towards Dean Moriarty. There were times when I felt I loved him enormously for his carefree attitude towards everything and his capability of being extremely spontaneous. He actually redefined spontaneity for me, and I am sure you will be amazed of his capabilities as well. Other times though, it was this exact quality which I loved before that I ended up loathing and just felt like it was enough. So he is quite a complex character and extremely hard to define.

I consider a book a good one when I build up emotions during reading it, and it doesn’t matter to me if I love or hate a character/plot/action as long as I feel something towards it. I definitely had a good mix of feelings while I read On the Road, however there were parts which were too detailed for me, hence started to get boring, but luckily these parts aren’t too long.

I know opinions vary when it comes to this book, some people really hate it whilst for some it’s a favorite. I’d say it’s definitely not my favorite book of all time but I am really happy I finally got to read it and received a serious case of wanderlust afterwards. Although a somewhat strange book, I definitely wanted jump in the car and drive off into the sunset after reading it. And it’s a good book if it can do that to a person! Don’t forget to check out Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer  as well!


Those who Read it: What did you think of On the Road?

Those who haven’t: Is it on your To-Read List?

7 Responses to “Travel Book of the Month: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

  • I’ve just thought about that, is it your compass ? Do you use it or it’s just because it’s pretty ? I find it extremely pretty 🙂

    • Yes, that’s my compass! I bought it at a flea market for about a dollar. And although functional, I haven’t taken it on any trips yet. It’s the highlight on my desk, though 😀 I also find it very pretty!

      • I’m trying to decorate my flat and I thought that I didn’t have a lot of travel related things… I would like to buy a globe as well 😉

        • I have a very modern globe which I received from a friend who painted the oceans with chalk paint so I can write on it. Very cool! Nevertheless, I am still looking for an old vintage globe (those yellowish ones have me craving!)

Trackbacks & Pings

  • The 25 Best Road Trip Songs of All Time | CityoftheWeek :

    […] This man’s heavenly voice and the amazing instrumentals make me want to jump in the car and drive from one side of the United States to the other, Kerouac-style! […]

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  • The 25 Best Road Trip Songs of All Time :

    […] This man’s heavenly voice and the amazing instrumentals make me want to jump in the car and drive from one side of the United States to the other, Kerouac-style! […]

    5 years ago

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