Traveling is appealing, amazing, and accessible—especially in the summer time. Imagine you travelled on the road or cast yourself into the wild, what kind of landscapes you would see, what people you would meet, and what stories you would make? The vast territory of America always conjures adventurers and inspires travelers to explore its beauty. If you are planning a road trip, just go, and tell me your story later! If you are stuck in the city for any reason, you still can hit on the road and go into the wild through reading these two amazing books about adventure: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. Ready? Let’s GO!
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957)
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over the West Coast, and all that road going…”
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This is one of the classic Beat Generation novels from 1950s America. The author Jack Kerouac describes the concept of freedom, the wave of jazz music, addiction to poetry, and the prevailing use of drugs in his books. This autobiographical novel is based on his travels with friends across the United States. Sal Paradise, the leading character, met Dean Moriarty after his divorce, and they became good friends who planned to drive on the road: from New York to San Francisco and finally arrived at Mexico. Along the road, they celebrated Zen, alcohol, jazz, sex, and the spirit of freedom. I enjoy this experimental writing so much. The reason why I call it experimental is that some people say the manuscript was typed on a continuous, 120-foot scroll of paper sheets. No margins and paragraph breaks—like their road trip, nothing can stop them hit the road!
The novel was adapted into a film by Walter Salles: On the Road (2012)
Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild (1996)
“The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he’d scrounged at a gas station.”
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This is also based on a true story, the life of Christopher McCandless. McCandless was an American young man who admired the landscape of wilderness and the spirit of carefree life. After graduating from college, he embarked on his journey across the States and made it to Alaska in 1992. After five months, his body was founded in a deserted bus. His cause of death is officially said starvation. In 1993, American writer Jon Krakauer wrote a short report on McCandless’ death and later decided to make it into a book. Reading this kind of heroic journey, I admire McCandless’ thinking about the society and the action of hitting on the road. One thing I think is noteworthy when you are reading the book: how the author “create” the narrative of McCandless’ journey.
The novel was adapted into a film by Sean Penn: Into the Wild (2007)
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