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on August 23, 2017
What a great American classic. I loved this book, the adventure of it, and the search for higher purpose and meaning that the characters take you on. Being a huge fan of Kerouac, I'd recommend any of his books.
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on March 2, 2017
This was my first Jack Kerouac read and absolutely fell in love.

Easy read that goes quick. Jack is definitely not timid with his ideas, so be prepared for sections that you may not agree with. Overall, highly recommend this book, especially if you have ever wondered/dabbled in eastern religion/philosophy.
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on April 30, 2015
I made the mistake of reading this book while waiting in line for the doors to open during a Black Friday sale. It was on the third day of my overnight camping spree in the front of our only towns Best Buy store. I was just waking up from a power nap and I decided to find something to read on my kindle tablet. Looking back on it, it was a funny coincidence because I remember feeling like a bum--camping on the ground for the third day in a row--and I searched the word "bum" on my kindle. This book popped up and I liked the illustrations on the cover so I bought it and began to read. By about the 22nd page I was rethinking my entire life and wondering why I stopped living so freely as I used to in my earlier years of life. In my twenties I was a reckless idealist who chased after the fairy tale love and smoked copious amounts of mind altering substances. Tens of pounds on the weekends and nearly a pound a day during the father was a business man so there was never an empty jar in the house or lack of Bic lighters near the nightstand. Anyway I've settled into the cushy resolve as a software engineer and have lost sight of many dreams I used to have as a lost young man. This book stirred something in me as I continued to read it. I found myself not blessing anyone who sneezed anymore, I rediscovered the joy of crapping into my sweatpants and letting the soil run slowly to the finish line of my shoe tops and I went home. Black Friday sales suck and this book is super tits. Buy it and live again!
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on September 21, 2008
If you're new to Jack Kerouac, this might be the place to start. Many people's first introduction to Kerouac is On The Road. While I love On The Road, I've read pretty much all of Kerouac's novels, and I have to say that The Dharma Bums is my favorite.

Indeed, I loved the book enough to write a companion reader for it (The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions), so right up front I have a bias and thought you should know about that.

In at least one of his letters (Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters: Volume 2), Kerouac himself acknowledged that The Dharma Bums was 'really bettern ON THE ROAD' (p. 99). So, if you don't take my word for it, maybe you will take the author's and make this your first foray into beat literature. I don't think you'll regret it.
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on February 25, 2018
It's interesting. I understand he died of alcohol related ailments. It make sense. So many references to drinking! Poor guy. But the book is a classic. Very insightful, down-to-earth and a pleasure to journey through. Much of it is inspirational.
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on April 30, 2018
This is a wonderful tale full of Jack's adventures across the country and in California specifically. His description of climbing Matterhorn in the Eastern Sierras inspires me to seek my own adventures, and the way he recounts his bohemian spring in Marin County is enchanting. Finally, his stream-of-consciousness prose makes this novel a quick and whimsical read. After reading this book you'll want to practice your own meditation techniques.
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on August 18, 2015
Classic Kerouac, recommended for 15-24 year olds. Prob would have rated it higher if I were a decade or two younger (I'm 37). His philosophy is a tad sophomoric/ idealistic, so I found myself rolling my eyes, having lots of, "no duh" moments, or just wanting to skip over paragraphs, simply because I've outgrown or surpassed lots of his existential, Eastern-based "revelations." I loved most of his meditations on hiking and nature (since nature is my church), though lots of the socializing scenes and bum-superiority rants were super corny.
Kerouac was a gifted poet, and 50 years ago his work was quite a radical. In that context, this book is important.
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on May 3, 2004
DHARMA BUMS came out a year after ON THE ROAD. While the latter is the beat manifesto celebrating the peripatetic lifestyle, BUMS focuses on the beat romance with Buddhist enlightenment and the building of an inner life. ON THE ROAD was an instant, memorable success, and while BUMS no doubt fed a desire for more of the same, it stands apart, its own satisfying work of art, its own way of sending telegraphs from the heart of the beat movement. Many of the episodes are based on actual events and experiences that were still fresh memories as the book was written.
Ray Smith is the first person narrator of DHARMA BUMS, a look alike for Jack Kerouac. For most of the book, he slyly puts Japhy Ryder at the center of attention. Ryder is a stand-in for poet Gary Snyder who survives, who as a young man in his twenties was already a natural leader. Surrounding them are other familiar figures from the era, including Alvah Goldbook (translates to Allen Ginsberg). They all write poetry and love jazz, women, and a casual lifestyle. They seek spiritual enlightenment. They delight in trolling for clothes in the Good Will and Army and Navy stores, they savor the simplest meal over a campfire. They are the Dharma Bums, rejecting the paralyzed emptiness they ascribe to middle class life.
I really like this book. The prose is clear and concrete, even when sorting through abstract notions. It is often funny. Kerouac had extraordinary insight into individual nuances and desires, and plays them into the tension of the journey and the sorting out. He had a gift for seeing how outsiders might perceive him and his crowd and how history might come to interpret the present he was portraying. Though he is legendarily perceived as a spontaneous artist, there is extraordinary control and shape imposed on these pages. Only twice does he momentarily break his world: once, in my edition, he slips and refers to Japhy as Gary, and another time, slipping out of the immediacy of the action, he pays a compliment to a simple meal on the road, noting that even as a lionized young writer in New York, he had not had a better meal in an upscale restaurant. Those curious nanoseconds can be forgiven, however. This book is a joy.
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on November 7, 2014
This just plain reads right to me. It speaks to me. I like Kerouac's style, and if not always agreeing with his philosophy of life, I can appreciate his journey. I've read this several times just to vicariously climb the mountain (in multiple ways) with him. I like On The Road also, but this is an easier and quicker read. I also love California and the Eastern Sierra Nevada so that helps too. I'd put Gary Snyder on my 'like to meet one day' list too. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 15, 2000
Having heard me praise this book countless times, my wife finally read it for herself. Her response? "You know, I was expecting some stereotype of `cool' Beatniks, trying to be so hip and detached. But that's just some popular media image. The people in this book are exuberant, thoughtful, even spiritual!" That sums it up as well as anything. Forget the glib idea of alterna-cultural one-upmanship that passes for a Beat attitude these days - "The Dharma Bums" is about naïve exuberance, anything-but-ironic soul-searching, an eager exploration of life's sorrows and joys, and the sheer, exhilarating, wondrous zest of being alive and aware in an endlessly fresh world. If reading this clear mountain stream of a book doesn't make you want to change your life and your way of looking at life, then you're just hopelessly blind to something precious! Life is so much more than the neatly packaged, pre-imagined commercial that society would love to sell you, and "The Dharma Bums" will gladly show you one possible way of finding your true path.
62 people found this helpful
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