If you don’t have much going on over the long holiday weekend, settle in with one of these patriotic books. On this list are some of the contenders for the title of “Great American Novel,” as well as nonfiction works about America.
1. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Hard travelin’ is a pastime idealized in a country that has lots of room for it, and On the Road is the bible of hard travelers. King of the Beat poets Jack Kerouac wrote the novel about his own experiences hitchhiking and driving back and forth across America with his freewheeling friends, and its publication marked a huge shift in American youth culture.
Kerouac’s friend (and a character in the novel himself) William Burroughs famously wrote of On the Road that it “sold a trillion Levi’s, a million espresso coffee machines, and also sent countless kids on the road.” Bob Dylan said, “It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s.” A litany of important additions to pop culture wouldn’t have been possible without Kerouac’s poetic and hellbent road trip. “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” Kerouac asks, and answers, in the novel.