Tim's Book Club #3
06 Jan 2010

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

I read this in the summer of 2009, while we were out on tour. I read quite a lot when we're touring, partly because I hate flying so much and I find reading on planes is quite a good distraction. I found the book really, really inspiring. I had a similar feeling when I read another Kerouac book, On The Road. There's something about his writing which really appeals to me. It's probably quite a male thing, actually, that yearning to jump on a flat-top train carriage and lie in the sun all the way from one coast of America to the other, or some sort of romantic dream.

The book is based very closely on Kerouac's life, with pretty much every character based on a real person. So there's a character called Ray Smith which is  him and his friend in the book, Japhy Ryder, is based on a poet called Gary Snyder. Plus Allen Ginsberg makes an appearance and that sort of thing. They're all a bunch of poets and amateur Buddhists and they spend a lot of time reading poetry, getting drunk, talking about Buddhism, writing these crazy spiritual haiku and going on big walks up mountains. They're basically drifters, but poetic, philosophical drifters.

It's a very romantic story, I suppose, but it also has a lot of very interesting thoughts about the way we live our lives and what matters and what doesn't matter. All of the characters have different opinions on those things. So it's quite an intellectually stimulating book as well as being set against the backdrop of the great outdoors and Kerouac going on these directionless adventures. He goes on a couple of great train journeys and also hitchhikes back and forth across the States. And it ends with him going off to a fire lookout station on top of a mountain in Washington State. He has to stay in this little hut for several months, all on his own, thousands of feet up. He just sits there looking out for fires and thinking about the world.

I would say that my character and beliefs have been shaped by reading books like this. I'm not the kind of person who'll take anything that's been handed down to me and I don't really feel that I've adopted any sort of belief system directly. But I'm interested in people's philosophical approaches to life. I guess the only thing I really believe in is people and it's always interesting to experience the psychological studies of people that you get in a really good book. I find that definitely shapes the way I think about myself and the way I think about other people.

With the Dharma Bums, some of the Buddhist stuff is quite rambling and almost nonsensical, although some of it is very beautiful in its approach to worldly things. But I don't necessarily subscribe to it all. A lot of the book is about each of them thinking the other person's point of view is nonsense and that debate goes on throughout, which is interesting in its own right. But for me, personally, I was almost more interested in the characters of the drifters and what happened to them during their adventuring through the American badlands, the people they meet, and what it means to roam like that. It definitely awakened in me a sense of wanting to go somewhere. I don't know where. But just to go on an adventure, meet people and have no idea where you're heading.


Buy The Dharma Bums from Amazon UK / USA / Canada / Germany / France / Japan

Tim's Book Club #1
Tim's Book Club #2

Comments (62)

Thanks Tim for recommending that book. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that it has a lot of interesting thoughts. I also like the bunch of poets and their friends. And some situations and comments are funny, in my mind. That was a great introduction to Jack Kerouac. Thank you again.

Posted by Mihajasoa at 6:33pm, 03 Aug 2010

I've just bought it! I was walking past a bookshop when I saw it. It's in bad shape but what matters is the content, what else ? Sovereign light café!

Posted by Mihajasoa at 12:42pm, 04 Feb 2010

Hi Tim, I have just finished reading 'The Dharma Bums' and have to say how much I enjoyed it. It wouldn't normally be the sort of book I would read, but saying this I found it fascinating. I enjoyed the differing ideas of the characters and the author's detailed descriptions of places and events. Thank you for recommending a book I could very well have over looked. Annette x

Posted by NET at 1:58pm, 25 Jan 2010

Tim, I love how you say the things you truly feel and believe in. I've just finished to read the book Dharma Bums, it teaches us to respect nature, animals and mostly human beings. I liked very much. Beijos, Regina do Brasil.

Posted by Regina Brz at 2:52am, 21 Jan 2010

Wanderers, dreamers, and those of us filled with CURIOSITY might be prone to love On the Road, Tim, whether man or woman. I haven't ridden on the top of a boxcar, but I have ridden by moonlight in a car with no headlights through the great plains leading up to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado! Am reading A Soldier of the Great War now, and will put Dharma Bums on my list. Can't wait for your new CD!

Posted by kimrene at 3:29am, 18 Jan 2010

Hi Tim, Thank you for recommending this book. I have just ordered a copy from Amazon, as it is not available in my local library. From your review it sounds like an an interesting read. You are so gifted. Your music and lyrics are beautifully written. Have you ever considered writing a book? This book club is a wonderful idea. Annette x

Posted by NET at 9:49am, 13 Jan 2010

well, this is one of the reasons why I love keane, because they don't only make incredibly beautiful music, but are also very intelligent, philosophic and reflective people! Which can't be said about lots of bands... Lots of love!

Posted by Resi at 6:44pm, 12 Jan 2010

Jack Kerouac said, " I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." "Maybe that´s what life is .... a wink of the eye and winking stars." " Avoid the world, it´s just a lot of dust, and drag and means nothing in the end." " Mankind is like dogs, not gods, as long as you don´t get mad they ´ll bite you- but stay mad and you´ll never be bitten. Dogs don´t respect humility and sorrow." " .....and everyting is going to the beat. It´s the beat generation, it be -at, it´s the beat to keep, it´s the beat of the heart, it´s being beat and down in the world,...." He was interested in Buddhism, so Buddha /563-483 B.C./said, " No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path."," You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.","Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.", " The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage. Like apparent distances in a picture, things have no reality in themselves but they are like heat haze.",, "Therefore, be you lamps unto yourselves, be a refuge to yourselves. Hold fast to Truth as a lamp, hold fast to the truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves. And those, who shall be a lamp unto themselves,........they shall reach the topmost height." very good night, Peace-/ "comes from within, do not seek it without"/ and :)

Posted by Denislavia at 12:00am, 12 Jan 2010

P.S. Tim, by the way, I'm hoping you do read these comments, so this is the only way I know to ask you, but please, please can you consider releasing Sovereign Light Cafe sooner than you intend. I absolutely adore that song and can't wait for it to be released - later in the year just seems such a long time to wait for such an amazing song. Please keep playing your wonderful music - for ever! Love you guys so much XXXXX

Posted by jo-anna at 9:53pm, 10 Jan 2010

My next book I intend to read! Thanks Tim, I think it's great that you're doing this book club feature as although I love to read, I tend to be pretty rigid in the kinds of books I read. But because I'm a huge admirer of you , I want to read the books that you recommend, so this is forcing me to open up my mind more which I've always thought I should do anyway and who better to encourage me to do so! I need inspirational books too, so I'm definitely going to read them. Thanks Tim, I think you're amazing !! Don't know what I'd do without Keane! XXXXXXX

Posted by jo-anna at 7:28pm, 09 Jan 2010

Ahh, Tim you're killing me here! That book sounds perfect for me! But I'm not even done with The Brooklyn Follies yet! I'm not going to be able to read this book for months, I fear! But I will put it on my "To Read" list, for sure!

Posted by travelfish at 5:04am, 08 Jan 2010

Wow it has an interesting plot, I like romantic novels or stories, I'm going to read it, Thank you Tim for the suggestion. Regards. Inés from MENDOZA ARGENTINA!!!

Posted by Iny at 11:33pm, 07 Jan 2010

Thank you Tim!!! Greeting for Tom, Rich and Jesse!!!

Posted by Daniel (Peru) at 11:32pm, 07 Jan 2010

Sleep Tight dear Tom ! Sending you waves of Much Love, Gratitude & Happiness,Always! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♥ Rachel :)

Posted by RACHEL-RIO-BRAZIL at 10:49pm, 07 Jan 2010


Posted by YESICA at 10:21pm, 07 Jan 2010


Posted by REDBURNINGHEART at 9:20pm, 07 Jan 2010

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ ………………........................... ♥♥♥♥♥….. MANY THANKS FOR THE NEWS !!!!!!!!! .......... KEANE, YOUR SONGS HAVE A HARMONIC, SWEET AND ENDLESS SOUND …………….. THEY ARE FRESH AS THE WATER OF SOURCE …………… THEY ARE FULL OF HOPE, LIBERTY AND DESIRE TO LIVE ……………………… WHEN WE LISTEN TO THEM, WE FEEL OURSELVES IN HEAVEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ...................... WE MISS YOU, KEANE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON .......... ♥♥…. ………. LOVE AND KISSES FROM … ★ ….. A.B …… ★ ……. (ITALY ☼) ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★

Posted by A.B at 7:43pm, 07 Jan 2010

http://blog.surf-prevention.com/2009/12/22/dont-catch-your-death-nattr ape-pas-la-mort/

Posted by Agnes(Fr-15/07/2007) at 7:37pm, 07 Jan 2010

@nis410 : I seem to remember that I had already seen something concerning this topic on TV (news or magazine)... Seems to be true, actually !... Enfin bref, c'est pas moi le dit mais le Consulat Britannique : voir les liens ci-dessous + si ça marche pas, tu tapes "Don't catch your death" dans Google et tu seras renseignée... Tant mieux si tu n'as rien vu, c'est bon signe ou preuve que ce n'est pas si grave... Les infos ont tellement tendance à tout exagérer ;-) Meilleurs Voeux !!! http://blog.surf-prevention.com/2009/12/22/dont-catch-your-death-nattr ape-pas-la-mort/ http://www.alpineelements.co.uk/community/dont-catch-your-death/

Posted by Agnes(Fr-15/07/2007) at 7:33pm, 07 Jan 2010

@Agnes : I live in the French Alps, but I never met a young English. Have you good addresses ? Bonne année !!!!

Posted by nis410 at 5:36pm, 07 Jan 2010

Mr. Oxley thank you for describing us about the book. Really inspiring. Bet it is so much to tell whenever we are appreciated much about the book as you have been written above. It is truly informed. I am also really fond of reading but for different kind of books as you read. Reading is my life actually. It doesn't matter though, I'm still big fan of you and KEANE also. Keep up informing us, Sir...thank you :)

Posted by irawati.subrata at 1:12pm, 07 Jan 2010

@Roosy : Please check your emails or inbox on the forum. ;)

Posted by Vic! at 12:51pm, 07 Jan 2010

Hello everybody in the world of Keane... Tim, very nice your writing... and good too you inspiring people to read... People... what happened with "What do you think of? I miss those videos :-( beijos from Brazil

Posted by KarlaSP at 11:07am, 07 Jan 2010

Hi, Tim ! As you know, we love when you talk about you... So, the first paragraph of your comment is a pure delight !... The perpetual quests and the existential angst of the author make me think to this amazing song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"... I guess we all tend to believe that absolute happiness is some miles away, somewhere else, or in something else and it's quite comforting and coward to leave it up to somebody else to decide and so to rely on any kind of beliefs... But most of time, happiness is simply before our eyes and I think maybe that the answer could be found in another gorgeous song "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot"... By the way, to the reading of "I'm not the kind of person who'll take anything that's been handed down to me and I don't really feel that I've adopted any sort of belief system directly" + "I guess the only thing I really believe in is people", I notice that the anguished man who has written tormented songs of "Hopes And Fears" has still a good mental balance !!!... Tim, you're quite right ! We are the only specie who is able to save the other species. So, even if we are able to act for better or for worst, we really have no other choice than to believe in each other !!!... @nis410 : Wow ! The book seems to draw up a very sarcastic portrayal of France ! Of course, it's quite humoristic... And that's the only aim, eh ! But I noticed that the French title is more moderate... Anyway, if it's not far from truth, then that's why currently many young British love so much the French Alps in order to make feast and get drunk... And despite that British people have attitudes whereas France is a country of morons, they also have now their own campaign titled "Don't catch your death !"...in the Merde, apparently !!!

Posted by Agnes(Fr-15/07/2007) at 10:44am, 07 Jan 2010

I very much enjoyed reading Paul Auster's "The Brooklyn Follies". It is well-written. I think that sharp words and episodes in the book make it real. Plus the plot itself constantly keeps the reader in suspence. Brilliant! The humorous stories and anecdotes in Auster's work make it more amusing without diminishing the idea of the book. Well, I really liked "The Brooklyn Follies" and I'm pretty sure that "The Dharma Bums" will also be very exciting. I already have the book :) Anyway, Tim, if you are looking for something to read you may want to try “Idiot? by Dostoevsky. Fyodor Dostoevsky is a master of depicting with remarkable insight the depth and complexity of the human soul. “Idiot? includes a superb, panoramic view of mid-19th-century Russian manners, morals and philosophy. I read it in 4 days. Thanks again for sharing with us your reviews!

Posted by Liouba at 9:54am, 07 Jan 2010

Grazie dolce Tim, i ilbri che suggerisci mi sembrano tutti molto interessanti , mi piace sapere che durante i tour ami leggere , secondo me è uno dei migliori passatempi. Per me oggi ricomincia la scuola , i miei alunni mi aspettano per le lezioni di violino , quindi ora devo proprio scappare! Ti auguro una buona giornata Tim e grazie per tutto quello che ci racconti , sei un tesoro ! Ciao da Sabrina from Catania , Sicilia !!!

Posted by Sabrina v. at 9:21am, 07 Jan 2010

Dear Tim, thanks for sharing! I am a lover reader books! i hope to find this in the book store! I'm writing down every book you suggest! one book I like is a perfect day by richard paul evans. and of course I like others. if you can suggest me more books! kiss! ps: you could be a great a book writer, you are very expressive! only you have to catch a pen and paper then start to write your own story and leave your imagination to fly!

Posted by tomandflopy at 6:57am, 07 Jan 2010

HELOISA, ISA FROM BRASIL, SAO PAULO ********* Hi everyone -- inspired by Tim´s text I was looking at the internet about Kerouac and found this great website with Ginsberg texts and images and I think you would like to take a look in some images and there are also some texts in English. Here we go: http://blog.dharma.art.br/ I hope you enjoy it the same way I did! :.) XXXXXXX ( I am listening now to My Shadow, by the way...) :.)

Posted by isa at 12:07am, 07 Jan 2010

Thank you Tim for that very interesting review. The book sounds interesting. Philosophical approaches to life are indeed interesting as well as experiencing psychological studies of characters in books. Interesting too to know what matters or not. You guys like simple things, I bet.

Posted by Mihajasoa at 11:54pm, 06 Jan 2010

I agree with Jim Rohn who said " Get around people who have something of value to share with you...."Thank you very much Tim for your words that touched certainly not only my soul. I have been feeling too down for several days- stomach-ache, head-ache, maybe too much cakes, mayonnaise potatoes salad, nuts, sauerkraut soup with dry mushrooms, etc. Maybe a bit of sorrow , and I can say that it was my desire to purge myself of bad thoughts or feelings and my desire to find myself, reading some apocryphas- such as " If you bring forth what is within you , what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you,"/ the gospel of Thomas/ and also it was this Tim´s Book Club that helped me. I think Jack Kerouac says about too familiar feelings - of the disgust with civilization- the sticking in the property, desires , , the feeling of the absurdity of human striving , the contrary of human conduct, thinking . His characters are finding an outlet - they still travel and never will achieve a target.... Yes, we must try again and again to find ourselves and to be capable of pure love and not mix love with hate, - " Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."/ and I add with providence..../ I wish you a dramatic improvement of weather, with the sun in soul and with love to you , Tim

Posted by Denislavia at 10:49pm, 06 Jan 2010

Sounds a bit like 'Autobiography of a Supertramp' - have you read that Tim? The hero travels on the trains in America with the hobos.

Posted by MaryDM at 10:26pm, 06 Jan 2010

Good to hear from you again, Tim! Right now I'm reading The Terminal Man, by one of my favorites writers, Michael Crichton (so sad he passed away last year). All your sugestions are going to my list of next-to-read ;-) All my best, love from The Frog Prince Squad, Brasil \o/

Posted by Beth at 10:24pm, 06 Jan 2010

I like much!! jiji :) It seems to be very good !!!! :) LUCK!!!!:) I am not of reading but if I like them very much if!!! ajaej :) and this one seems to be brilliant !! I am glad for the existence about you my angels!!!:) You are incredible persons!! :) byebye good night!! zury!!! :) bye!!

Posted by Melisa at 10:14pm, 06 Jan 2010

Thank you Tim ! You're a perfect idol: great musician, sweet and friendly man and now you're sharing your books with us. Happy New Year !

Posted by roosy at 9:09pm, 06 Jan 2010

Oh no...I haven't even started the first book yet! I'd better get a move on...xxx

Posted by wearytraveller11 at 9:03pm, 06 Jan 2010


Posted by flor_perfectkeane at 8:59pm, 06 Jan 2010

Tim you're amazing! Jack Kerouac is one of my favorite writers. His On The Road is my favorite book of all time, it changed my perspective of life completely. I love The Dharma Bums too because I think there is more humor in it, it's not as heavy as On The Road. Don't you think? By the way, I just saw your review on The Brooklyn Follies, and I just want to say Paul Auster is indeed a brilliant writer! Can't wait to hear your reviews on his other novels. (The Book of Illusions and Leviathan are my favorites! ) PS: I saw the news on TV this morning, the snow in UK is INSANE! It simply won't stop! So, please keep warm and be safe! Love you! x

Posted by Griet at 8:36pm, 06 Jan 2010

I love psychology studies. My mother teachs me a lot of it. Your club rocks Tim!

Posted by valeN at 8:24pm, 06 Jan 2010

Hey Tim!!! Thank you very much!! That sounds really good♥

Posted by Julia B. at 8:24pm, 06 Jan 2010

Hmmm sounds good! I'm definatly going to read this one

Posted by Atlanic-keane at 8:09pm, 06 Jan 2010

Keanemusic Manager, please, I'd like change my password. Could you send me a message to my e-mail? (It's in my register). Thank you and Happy New Year.

Posted by roosy at 8:08pm, 06 Jan 2010

Thanks Tim. I like your review. I love books and it's always pleasant to hae the opinion of other readers. I have just finished a book (my first in English!!!!). It's a book about an Englishman who arrives in Paris to start a new job and his meet with France is not easy (a culture shock!!!!). It's very caricatured (except for the strikes witch are the second national participation sport after petanque, except for the French cheese, except for....No, it's really caricatured but funny, a good moment of reading. "A year in merde" by Stephen Clarke. I have two another books of the same author : always the same Englishman in France and his tribulations, but I don't read them yet ! ENORMES BISOUS

Posted by nis410 at 8:00pm, 06 Jan 2010

ISA FROM BRASIL *************** I forgot to say that I do like the way Tim describes himself, his feelings, his thoughts and everything that he is fond of... You HAD to be a song writer! :.)

Posted by isa at 7:53pm, 06 Jan 2010

HELOISA, ISA FROM BRASIL, SAO PAULO ************ many many years ago I used to be a huge reader of the Beat Generation; I remember well I read once On the road; someone stole it from my shelves... it´s alright. I have many others five or more from those guys, including the journals of Ginsberg (used to be my favorite). Nowadays I am reading everything about Dostoievksy Tchekhov and Gorky. I´ve got these fases (phases?). I think everyone who enjoys literature does... Thank you, TiM! WE MISS YOU, GUYS! LOTS OF LOVE! :.) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Posted by isa at 7:51pm, 06 Jan 2010

Thanks Tim! It sounds like a great book! :)

Posted by Keanerocks7 at 7:49pm, 06 Jan 2010

I like the sound of this book, the way it inspired your thirst for adventure. When I first read that, I thought it was odd seeing as you have travelled to so many places with Keane, but I suppose the difference lies in having the freedom to go wherever your mood takes you rather than having it all mapped out. Thanks Tim.

Posted by sam (uk) at 7:40pm, 06 Jan 2010

@Tim.Thanks love!!!!te estimo amor eres mi idolo ,sos muy buena personita (L) besitossss.=Lily= Argentina,!

Posted by lily at 7:38pm, 06 Jan 2010

Not heard of this author but enjoyed The Brooklyn Follies so much can't wait to start on this book. Kathleen in Kent x

Posted by Kathleen at 7:30pm, 06 Jan 2010

I'm still working on the roster of Auster books(and truly enjoying them all), but I'll definitely throw a Kerouac in there as well. Thanks once again, Tim. You're an inspiration! ...Sherry W., Michigan, USA.

Posted by Sherry W. at 7:02pm, 06 Jan 2010

Hi Tim! Big thanks for the review.The book seems very interesting.I appreciate the Buddhist precepts. You have interesting points of view about meeting people in different places and adventures.XXXXX

Posted by RACHEL-RIO-BRAZIL at 6:48pm, 06 Jan 2010

"It definitely awakened in me a sense of wanting to go somewhere. I don't know where. But just to go on an adventure, meet people and have no idea where you're heading." it happened to me with different books I've read... but I never did a single things of that ideas that come to my mind after reading that kind of things... :\ it'd be great to them all someday.. :)

Posted by Jazy at 6:34pm, 06 Jan 2010

Excellent choice, Tim. I am really impressed this time. Beat generation has always been so appealing to me that I wish I had lived wild and free in the 50-s of the XX-th c. So, if you break free, it will not be a great surprise to meet you somewhere "on the road" some day. The ultimate freedom is in your heart, keep on searching, though. Great taste in books. Thumbs up.

Posted by Miss Teake at 6:30pm, 06 Jan 2010

Happy new year!! I´ve been searching a new book for read this week, and I think that I have found it, thank you so much!!

Posted by mariceley at 6:02pm, 06 Jan 2010

Tim, Happy new year. Just finished The Brooklyn Follies, I enjoyed it and the ending was very interesting and made you wonder what happened to the characters from that day forward. This new book sounds good too especially as I am thinking of starting a course in Buddhism and meditation as my life is quite stressful, will try to read this one too.Its quite good discussing these things I feel almost intelligent !!! Rita.

Posted by rita bischoff at 5:59pm, 06 Jan 2010

Spot on Tim...thanks for reviewing & sharing your thoughts on this book! I'm not a male but I understand what you meant about the "romantic dream" of train-hopping around America w/o any worries...to just go with the flow of life & see where it takes you...to be a poetic drifer (hehe). I found all that quite appealing for some reason. Anyway...yes, this book is VERY inspiring indeed & I would recommend anyone to read this book...mahalo Tim!

Posted by Spiritchaser at 5:58pm, 06 Jan 2010

Thanks Tim. This afternoon I`ll go to the bookshop. This one sounds VERY interesting. Lots of love from Argentina

Posted by Noelia at 5:13pm, 06 Jan 2010

Seems to be really interesting.......I enjoyed reading Brooklyn Follies, so I think this is going to be as good as it....:D ..thanks for the review tim...you're an awesome :)

Posted by Katia at 5:09pm, 06 Jan 2010

another book already - ?? I've only just ordered the first one Tim recommended from our local library - !! HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jane (UK)

Posted by dolphin1790 at 5:07pm, 06 Jan 2010

thanks for ur review, Tim... i suggest u to read a book named "This Earth of Mankind" by Pramoedya Ananta Toer..he's a great writer from my homeland with many international achievements.

Posted by mita_kermit at 5:04pm, 06 Jan 2010

eres una gran persona Tim! :)

Posted by may87ale at 4:57pm, 06 Jan 2010

Thanks for the review, Tim. I read "On the Road" when I was in high school and I think Kerouac's work will probably speak to me more now, 20 years later.

Posted by Dionysia at 4:53pm, 06 Jan 2010

Cool!! Sounds interesting!!

Posted by taz at 4:49pm, 06 Jan 2010

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