Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On the Road” as Want to Read:
On the Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On the Road (Duluoz Legend)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  236,582 ratings  ·  10,054 reviews

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the

Paperback, 307 pages
Published January 1st 1976 by Penguin Books (first published 1955)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On the Road, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Eric Don't touch it! Read Faulkner or better yet Cormic McCarthy for the stream of consciousness literary style. This has zero character development…moreDon't touch it! Read Faulkner or better yet Cormic McCarthy for the stream of consciousness literary style. This has zero character development probably because he wrote it while tripping on acid.
Its a total waste of time (less)
Kris If you are into the beat movement in the USA in the 50's, it's an interesting read. What I took from it was sentences that lasted half a page, a lot…moreIf you are into the beat movement in the USA in the 50's, it's an interesting read. What I took from it was sentences that lasted half a page, a lot of jumping back and forth and just general annoyance over some of the characters. The book does however portray very well how the Beat movement during that time impacted the people involved, but the endless rambling on and on and repeating himself, associating with horrible people etc. was just too annoying for me.

That being said - I read it because I took a class in Beat art and literature, so I learned a lot from the book too. It has it good parts and its bad, and it also involves a severely narcissistic character which was interesting to read about. But several of my peers have tried to read it and after 30% shelved it for good - but seeing as the book basically is based off Jack Kerouacs notes during his travels it's a challenging read, as the writing style is about the stream of consciousness, wich can be hard to follow. I had to go back several pages whenever I picked it up again just to remember the context.(less)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
Best Books Ever
101st out of 40,382 books — 152,455 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Best Books of the 20th Century
63rd out of 6,355 books — 42,857 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jan 08, 2014 Jessica rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fourteen-year-old assholes
Shelves: bad-reads, dicklits
This is probably the worst book I have ever finished, and I'm forever indebted to the deeply personality-disordered college professor who assigned it, because if it hadn't been for that class I never would've gotten through, and I gotta tell you, this is the book I love to hate.

I deeply cherish but don't know that I fully agree with Truman Capote's assessment: that _On the Road_ "is not writing at all -- it's typing."

Lovely, Turman, but let's be clear: typing by itself is fairly innocuous -- thi
I'm supposed to like On the Road, right? Well, I don't. I hate it and I always have. There are a lot of reasons why I hate it. I find Kerouac's attitude toward the world pathetically limited and paternalistic. In On the Road he actually muses about how much he wishes that he could have been born "a Negro in the antebellum South," living a simple life free from worry, and does so seemingly without any sense of irony. On every page, the book is about how Kerouac (a young, white, middle-class, so ...more
Ian Agadada-Davida
A View from the Couch

OTR has received some negative reviews lately, so I thought I would try to explain my rating.

This novel deserves to lounge around in a five star hotel rather than languish in a lone star saloon.


Please forgive my review. It is early morning and I have just woken up with a sore head, an empty bed and a full bladder.


Let me begin with a confession that dearly wants to become an assertion.

I probably read this book before most of you were born.

So there!

Jahn Sood
I've been thinking about this book a lot lately, so I figured that I'd go back and write something about it.

When I first read this book, I loved it as a piece of art, but its effect on me was different than I expected. So many people hail Kerouac as the artist who made them quit their jobs and go to the road, become a hippie or a beat and give up the rest. When I read it though, I had been completely obsessed with hippie culture for a long time, and it caused me to steer away from it for a whil
This is the book which has given me anxiety attacks on sleepless nights.
This is the book which has glared at me from its high pedestal of classical importance in an effort to browbeat me into finally finishing it.
And this is that book which has shamed me into feigning an air of ignorance every time I browsed any of the countless 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die lists.

Yes Jack Kerouac, you have tormented me for the past 3 years and every day I couldn't summon the strength to open another page o
I read On The Road when I was 16. When I was 16, I was so depressed. I went to a high school that had a moat around it and a seige mentality. On The Road made me not depressed. In fact ... it made me want to hitchhike, hop freight trains, and more importantly to write. If I were still 16 I would give On The Road 5 stars. I would say, go! Go! Read this book and be mad for life, delirious, exploding outward into the big uncovered road! Consume vanilla ice cream and apple pie. Drink black coffee. F ...more
Although the ideas hold a certain appeal, this book is ultimately just a half-assed justification of some pretty stupid, self-destructive, irresponsible, and juvenile tendencies and attitudes, the end result of which is a validation of being a deadbeat loser, a perpetual child. This validation is dressed up as a celebration of freedom etc.

As literary art, stylistically, the book is pretty bad. The analogies to bebop or even free jazz are misguided. That improvisation was by talented musicians,
Jul 16, 2011 Sparrow rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sparrow by: Erica
Shelves: memoir-biography
The other day I was talking to someone and he said, “Well, I’m no pie expert . . . Wait! No! I am a pie expert. I am an expert at pie!”

Another person asked, “How did you become a pie expert?”

“One time I ate only pie for an entire week. I was driving across the country with my buddies, and we decided to eat only pie.”

“Like Jack Kerouac in On the Road!” I said.

“Yes! Exactly! That’s exactly what we were doing. We were reading On the Road, and we decided he was so smart when he realized pie is the
Mike Puma
I tried; I really tried. Everything was telling me—I was telling me—this is one I’m going to like. Instead, I got Pablum for the Young Rebel Soul. I suspect I approached this novel with the same myopic nostalgia that, occasionally, contributes to the delusion that young people who are just getting their driver’s licenses and I are ‘roughly’ the same age. More random thoughts to follow.

So you want to write a novel, huh? But, dammit, you just don’t know how to start? No problem, man; it’s cool, da
I personally can't stand the characters. They cover up irresponsibility and real hurt to people in the guise of being artists. However, I do think there is more to this story.

Sure, they are jerks and they are bums and they are full of a lot of BS but as the book progresses, it becomes clear that they know it. These guys are also WW2 vets, and very dissimilar to the hippies who follow them, they do not have any anti-American or anti-establishment feelings. Also, they show a deep remorse and guilt
Jason Koivu
They're just good ol' boys never meaning no harm, making their way the only way they know how, but that's just a bit more than the law will allow...

The characters of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's On the Road are 20th Century equivalents of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer: boys having joyous American adventures. Sal and Dean trip (in more ways than one) back and forth from the east coast to the west, and down south even as far as Mexico, always looking to get their kicks. It's a free-
Maclain Rigdon

I was in school at the Merchant Marine Academy. I was nineteen years old; a Georgia boy. I had no business being there. The deal at the academy is that you do six months of your Sophomore year and six months of your Junior years at sea. At least that’s how it used to be. I hear they are on trimesters now. Who knows? Anyway, it was this sea year that attracted me to the school in the first place.

So I’m nineteen, heavy boozer, balls to the walls so to speak. I was coming unhinged having to deal wi
The author William Kirn, in a piece for Slate magazine debating the merits of On The Road, wrote, "It's hard for me to summon any more 'critical distance' toward On the Road than I can toward the shape of my own face or the smell of my own sweat." I feel much the same way. For me, On the Road is inextricable from the time and place that I read it. I was, literally, on the road, looking at colleges in New England during my junior year of high school. I'd borrowed the book from my brand-new-girlfr ...more
Kevin Quinley
A few months back I read Stephen Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage", a harrowing account of cross-country exploration made poignant by the character studies of adventurers Lewis & Clark. Undeterred in their mission to map the uncharted territories, the account of their expedition reminds readers of the vast wonders encompassed within America's borders. Equally awe-inspiring from the scope of their accomplishment and the natural beauty encountered, I felt compelled to perhaps make my own pilgrimag ...more
I discovered Kerouac in tenth grade, right when all the kicks seem most dazzling, and I thought yes! This is the crazy bohemian life! And I spent the next ten years trying to be a Beatnik. I hitchhiked from Atlanta to Philadelphia just because according to this book that's the sort of thing one does. No one really hitchhiked, already, in those days; old hippies would pick me up looking bewildered. Well, and racist truckers, too, so some things never change. I would have given my left nut for som ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the generation that think they invented sofa surfing
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and the younger me
I decided to re-read this recently, having originally read it too long ago as a 15 year old with a head full of clouds, fluffy ideas and idealism. Happy to report that the clouds and other fluff were replaced with an iron clad lump of cynicism which grows daily.

This time round (more than fifteen years on)I enjoyed it more for the colourful style of writing and use of language which marked it as a book that defined a generation. I also realised that despite his skill as a writer, Kerouac and chu
Paul Bryant
You couldn't pay me enough to re-read this baby now. Well, okay, I'd probably do it for 200. Alright, 100. Cash.

Kerouac took over from Steinbeck as the guy I had to read everything by when I was a young person. Steinbeck himself took over from Ray Bradbury. All three American males with a sentimental streak as wide as the Rio Grande.

Whole thing nearly turned me into a weepy hitchhiker who plays saxophone while he waits for a ride, then gets abducted by aliens who are these very kind blue globe
They're like conquerors without a wilderness to claim, cowboys with no cattle to brand.

So much has been written about Jack Kerouac's On the Road, that I am not really going to write a review. I will pose my thoughts.

I think that for that half-dozen of people who know nothing about On the Road, I will say this. It's Jack Kerouac's most famous novel – Kerouac being the "King of the Beats" and the author who gave impetus to the Beat Generation along with the careers of Allan Ginsburg and William B
I really have trouble writing reviews on books I fall in love with or that change my life. It's just, how do you explain your deep inner love towards a book to other people? It's extremely difficult. So this will probably just be a ramble of thoughts.

At the time I picked up On the Road, I had been having an extreme desire to travel and see the world. As I got further and further into the story, the desire became a need, you know that needy, heart-fluttery feeling you get under your chest? I was
Pardon me while I write a scathing review for this book in the style of Kerouac, the Rambler.

I really don't understand why this book is considered a classic. I think of it as nothing more than a diary written by a man who was soused all of the time and whose brain could not understand structure and the unwritten rules of writing. It's incoherent, rambles on for days, and the "style" is distracting and annoying enough that reading even a page makes me yearn to kick somebody's puppy. And I like pu
Yikes, where to begin. As the film was released to such an iconic novel it seemed important to read the novel first (iconic enough to consider seeing a movie with Kristen Stewart in). Not only that, but the novel also appears on the 1001 Books: You Must Read Before You Die list. So, Amazon Marketplace to the rescue and a near-mint copy of the novel arrived in my pigeon-hole at work the next day. If only I'd known what it was going to be like – I joined the library the same week and should have s ...more
Aug 29, 2007 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Richard Silberman, Sean Chiki, Courtney Miller
I don't wish to be hyperbolic, but Jack Kerouac may be (unwittingly) responsible for the national standard "The Ugly American." Believe me, I SO want to drink in the carpe diem, exploratory life-lust, but his rampant, self-indulgent Id-fest left many women, friends, and strangers in its wounded wake. His women are two-dimensional, holy-whore fan-bots; his friends are so much hog twaddle compared to his idol Dean; and his pursuit of adventure required much theft to fund it (even though he was a c ...more
There are people, I’m quite prepared to admit, that I am more than happy to spend time with – even an entire week if needs be - as long, that is, as they agree to remain within proper and predictable boundaries. And often those boundaries are pretty well fixed by the covers of the book that I find them in. Look, I don’t mind if you don’t wash or you get so drunk or stoned or both that you find yourself fast asleep hanging onto a toilet to make sure you don’t fall off the world. I don’t care if y ...more
Tony Noland
An unfocused Peter Pan expresses his confused discontent with the purposelessness of his life by drifting back and forth across the country in the company of similarly addle-pated losers. His bone-deep narcissism allows him to remain convinced (despite all evidence to the contrary) that flitting from one city to another while sleeping on a succession of borrowed couches is a glorious life. To his mind, a string of starvation-wage menial jobs, casual petty theft, abusive sexual relationships and ...more
I read this book at the perfect time in my life, as though it had been written for me to read at that exact moment. It changed my ideas about traveling and really living life. It made me rethink my concept of what it means to be free. But most of all, it made me excited for all the adventures I had yet to experience.
Sep 04, 2015 David rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 20 year old assholes, whistful executives who shoot deer and drive corvettes
There is a apparent cult-following to On The Road which I believe consists primarily of college undergraduates, yearning for freedoms and ignorant of responsibilities, in fact ignorant still of their own human horrible-ness and vices, to which they bow before and in fact place on a pedestal as virtues: their egoism, their love of life, their uninformed feelings of uniqueness, and their likewise uniformed feelings of latent genius. These qualities are unbounded in the pages of On The Road, everyw ...more
There are some books that are just made to be read aloud, and this is surely one of them. Will Patton does a magical job of capturing the energy, the aimlessness, the yearning, the people of Kerouac's masterpiece.

I'd somehow always managed to avoid reading this book, associating it (wrongly) with the beat poets, whom I've never been that fond of.

It's a completely different animal.

Hearing it read aloud, I can understand how it arrived like a thunderclap in the literary world of the late 50s, wit
I've watched the movie before and didn't like it but I kept hearing how this classic novel has the ability to change lives, how it defined a generation. So I thought I would give it a try and read the book.

Why this book is considered a revelation is beyond me. The book is broken down into five sections that seem to drag and have no direction. I think the lack of direction and lack of a sturdy plot are the main issues of this novel. Maybe I missed something, but nothing ever happens. Sal Paradise
The only reason why I have given this book one star is because I'm very proud of myself that I found the will to finish it, because I didn't like it at all; not the style of writing, not the plot and/or the characters. For me this book was one huge disappointment.

What attracted me in the first place was the road-trip through the USA and Mexico. I thought it would be about young people traveling, working, sharing experiences and getting to know new places and people and what did I get.... A bunch
I could try to review this better than Jessica, but I don't think I could rant so poetically. Let me sum it up in my own abrupt way: This book is a travesty. This book wasted approximately four hours of my life. The entire Beat movement is awful, and I tried really hard to like it, back when I smoked pot and clove cigarettes and thought Jerry Garcia and Jim Morrison were God and wore hemp necklaces and patchouli. I gave this book a more-than-fair shot, and it shot me back, right in the ass. A co ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Rory Gilmore ...: On The Road by Jack Kerouac 32 275 Sep 19, 2015 06:52AM  
Goodreads Poor Rating System 46 1607 Sep 02, 2015 01:15PM  
"and then" 4 37 May 16, 2015 04:31PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: On the Road by Jack Kerouac 2 19 May 02, 2015 05:22AM  
I've tried to read this book twice 11 68 Apr 25, 2015 06:58AM  
Book Review 7 25 Mar 13, 2015 06:05PM  
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond
  • The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-1971
  • Naked Lunch
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • Finnegans Wake
  • Alien vs. Predator
  • Tropic of Capricorn
  • The Day of the Locust
  • Jack Kerouac: Angel-Headed Hipster
  • The Big Money (U.S.A., #3)
  • Appointment in Samarra
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement
  • Studs Lonigan
  • Notes of a Dirty Old Man
  • The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (The Gonzo Papers, #1)
  • Death in the Afternoon
  • Money
Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Keroua
More about Jack Kerouac...

Other Books in the Series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
  • Visions of Gerard
  • Dr. Sax
  • The Town and the City
  • Maggie Cassidy
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa
  • The Dharma Bums

Share This Book

49 trivia questions
6 quizzes
More quizzes & trivia...
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 9482 likes
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 2167 likes
More quotes…