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)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  311,655 ratings  ·  13,609 reviews
When Jack Kerouac’s On the Road first appeared in 1957, readers instantly felt the beat of a new literary rhythm. A fictionalised account of his own journeys across America with his friend Neal Cassady, Kerouac’s beatnik odyssey captured the soul of a generation and changed the landscape of American fiction for ever.

Influenced by Jack London and Thomas Wolfe, Kerouac alway
...more
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
54,702 books — 190,093 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Best Books of the 20th Century
7,710 books — 48,449 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  311,655 ratings  ·  13,609 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Jessica
Sep 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fourteen-year-old assholes
Shelves: dicklits, bad-reads
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
...more
Adam
Apr 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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 "Marvin" Graye
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
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.

Disclaimer

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.

Confesssion

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!

Wouldn'
...more
Samadrita
Sep 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: white heterosexual males
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
...more
Jahn Sood
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jacob
Dec 21, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Michael Finocchiaro
Kerouac's masterpiece breathes youth and vigor for the duration and created the American bohemian "beat" lifestyle which has been the subject of innumerable subsequent books, songs, and movies. I have read this at least two or three times and always feel a bit breathless and invigorated because of the restlessness of the text and the vibrance of the characters. There was an extraordinary exhibit at the Pompidou Center earlier this year where the original draft in Kerouac's handwriting was laid o ...more
Adam
Jan 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1900-1969, prose
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,
...more
Fabian
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Herein lies that gnarly root of the all-American Sense of Entitlement. Coupling this with "Huck Finn" as THE quintessential American Novel is One Enormous mistake: Twain at least entertains, at least follows through with his intention, with his American take on the Quixotean legend; Kerouac might just be the biggest literary quack of the 20th century! The book is awkward, structured not as ONE single trip, but composed of a few coast-to-coast coastings, all having to do with this (now) overused ...more
Meredith Holley
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Meredith 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
...more
Katerina
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Katerina by: Eliasdgian
Shelves: classics, 2017-reads
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

I am not really into classics.
I always preferred the fantasy genre, due to an innate escapism, a vivid imagination and a constant longing for magic. But as you may tell, I didn't cast spells while reading On the Road. I didn't climb the dark wizard's tower, nor heard prophecies whispered in the dark. I set my sword aside for a while, and hushed my heart's desire to experience passionate romances. After a dear friend's rav
...more
karen
in september, this book will turn sixty years old! while i do not care for it personally, and the celebration of a couple of self-satisfied pseudo-intellectual doofuses and their buffet-style spirituality traveling across the country, leaving a number of pregnancies in their wake and exploiting underage mexican prostitutes makes me wonder why this book endures, endure it does. so i have made a road trip booklist with less ickiness and more cannibalism. enjoy!

https://www.rifflebooks.com/list/2374
...more
Mike Puma
Sep 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugh, 2010
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
...more
Matthew
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, library, 2017, classic
This was a 4 star book based on what it represents, the history of the genre, and my enjoyment of travel.

From the get go, this is a stream of consciousness romp through North America. It seems like almost every city in the United States is mentioned at least once as Sal Paradise tells of his travels, the people he meets, those who join him, and his wild vagabond companion Dean Moriarity. I don't feel like the style of this book will appeal to everyone and I can easily see many losing interest p
...more
Lostinanovel
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
J-sin
Apr 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rolling stone gathers no moss…
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Roads weave into a tapestry of life… Roads interlace into a labyrinth… There is no end to them… One can’t reach a finish… One can only stop… Or to be stopped.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…

There is a time to sow wild oats and a time to reap what was sown…
…there was nothing behind me any more, all my bridges were gone and I didn’
...more
Anuradha
Mar 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any white man who suffers from first world problems.
Recommended to Anuradha by: that one person who compared this to The Catcher in the Rye.
EDIT: 26/03/2018
I just learnt that Sam and Dean from Supernatural were named after Sal and Dean, and I don't know what to believe in anymore.

--

ORIGINAL REVIEW:

ALTERNATE TITLE: White People Problems
ALTERNATE ALTERNATE TITLE: How Many Girls is Too Many Girls?
ALTERNATE ALTERNATE ALTERNATE TITLE: Do I Sound Smart Yet?

Why do people love this book? No seriously, I read it for the second time because I thought I was too young to have understood it when I read it the first time. Well, turns out the
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
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 glo
...more
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
This book takes me back to that once in a lifetime summer when you sit with your friends and say "we should just hit the road and let it take us anywhere." Over the years you look back and wonder - can you say that you took the road... "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." But that difference is already faded; the road is covered over with the autumnal leafs of memory - and it is lost. Jack took that road; and I traveled with him in the spirit of that summer lo ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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-
...more
Derek
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shovelmonkey1
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
...more
Trevor
Nov 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
Maclain Rigdon
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing


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
...more
Emer
Mar 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My fellow masochists who have to read the classics simply *because*
Recommended to Emer by: my terrible masochistic reading habits after reading Anu's review
Wow...

Can I request a lobotomy please? Something to chase this utter mess of a novel from my brain, rid my memory of this painful reading experience.

I mean I should have known better than to read this after reading Anu's fabulous review but well.... I'm one of those people that will read any book that is on any of those 100 books to read before you die type lists so I don't regret reading this because I can always say I have read Kerouac now.

BTW click here to read Anu's brilliant review which
...more
Alex
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
Matt
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-novels
I am a firm believer in a checklist for life. This wouldn't be surprising to anyone who knows me, for I am always attempting to enforce order onto chaos. This was my favorite part about college and lawschool; the fact that it broke life into fall semester, Christmas break, spring semester, and summer. It created a marvelous little cycle of struggle and reward.

Life is not necessarily chaotic. However, it is certainly undelineated, uncertain, sprawling, sudden, and unknowable. It is only bounded
...more
Mark Lawrence
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think this book, which launched Kerouac's career and gave him insta-fame, has to be seen as a product of its time.

I found it a chore to read, a long dull boast about a series of road trips. It's populated by vacuous largely despicable alcoholics with zero impulse control and an unshakeable belief that they are deeply profound observers of the human condition.

One saving grace of the book is that Kerouac has an unusual writing style with a strong voice that he uses well, especially when describi
...more
David Schaafsma
I read this book when I was 20 and I loved it, it spoke like Truth to my Heart, and every summer I and one or some of my increasingly hairy friends got on the road West, to the Rockies, to the Grand Tetons, to backpack and climb and breathe in for a time the pure air of the West. Freedom, man! Back to Nature, one with Nature. At its best the writing was a celebration of all that is good in life, of love, of intoxications and lusts of various kinds. On the road! Romantic. Ecstatic. 5 stars.

At 30
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tackle Rory's Rea...: January 2019 Poll pick: On the Road! 22 20 Jan 21, 2019 05:50PM  
100 Books Challenge: 2018 Group Read - June - On the Road 4 9 Aug 12, 2018 02:00PM  
The Rory Gilmore ...: On the Road 41 235 May 02, 2018 06:15PM  
Books & Coffee Bo...: January 2018: On the Road 8 22 Jan 16, 2018 05:43PM  
Play Book Tag: On the Road by Jack Kerouac 3 stars 6 24 Sep 11, 2017 11:28PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change cover 2 19 Jun 26, 2017 03:10AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lord of the Flies
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • Anna Karenina
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money
  • Queer
  • Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)
  • The Waste Land and Other Writings
  • Reality Sandwiches
  • Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #2)
  • The Holy Barbarians
  • A Coney Island of the Mind
  • Go
  • Men Without Women
  • Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, And America
  • Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster
See similar books…
8,127 followers
Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac 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.


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
50 trivia questions
4 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 and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” 10943 likes
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 2606 likes
More quotes…