The Beats of Summer: A Reading Event! (Sign-Up Post)

Welcome to the sign-up post for:

BeatsOfSummer-ButtonThe Beats of Summer: A Reading Event!

Summertime is coming, and what better time than Summer to immerse ourselves in the works of the most rebellious, daring, and “hot” generation of American writers??

For this event, the goal is to read as many pieces of “Beat Generation” literature as you want to, from June 1st through July 14th. Audiobooks, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction all count, as long as the writer is considered to be a part of the Beat Generation.  Memoirs, biographies, essays, theory/criticism or other works of non-fiction written about The Beats are also acceptable!

Update: We are looking for volunteers to provide Guest Posts and/or offer Giveaways throughout the event. If you would be interesting in participating in this capacity, please fill out This Form. And Thanks!

What is the Beat Generation?

“In American in the 1950s, a new cultural and literary movement staked its claim on the nation’s consciousness. The Beat Generation was never a large movement in terms of sheer numbers, but in influence and cultural status they were more visible than any other competing aesthetic. The Beat Generation saw runaway capitalism as destructive to the human spirit and antithetical to social equality. In addition to their dissatisfaction with consumer culture, the Beats railed against the stifling prudery of their parents’ generation. The taboos against frank discussions of sexuality were seen as unhealthy and possibly damaging to the psyche. In the world of literature and art, the Beats stood in opposition to the clean, almost antiseptic formalism of the early twentieth century Modernists. They fashioned a literature that was more bold, straightforward, and expressive than anything that had come before.”  –The Literature Network

I will post throughout the event to  discuss different subjects related to The Beat Generation, its writers, and its influences on later movements in literature, film, and music, as well as my own reviews of the Beat Generation books that I finish.  I will also be offering giveaways, and I am hopeful that some participants will be interested in writing guest posts or hosting giveaways of their own, to make this more interactive!

Below is a  list of writers and works of The Beat Generation.  This list is by no means comprehensive, it is simply a starting point.

Major Writers:
Richard Brautigan
William S. Burroughs
Neal Cassady
Gregory Corso
Diane DiPrima
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Allen Ginsberg
John Clellon Holmes
Joyce Johnson
Hettie Jones
Jack Kerouac
Joanne Kyger
Gary Snyder
Carl Solomon

Important Works:
Dharma Bums
Gasoline (poetry)
Howl (poetry)
Minor Characters (memoir)
Naked Lunch
On the Road
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (memoir)

Affiliated Writers/Biographers:
James Campbell (This is the Beat Generation)
Carolyn Cassady (Off the Road)
Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
Brenda Knight (Women of the Beat Generation)
Matt Theado (The Beats: A Literary Reference)
Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)

In the meantime, if you would like to host a giveaway or provide a guest post, please: CLICK HERE.

And if you want to sign-up to participate in The Beats of Summer (yay!), just leave a comment on this post saying YOU’RE IN! Maybe include some of the books you hope to read.  I plan to read Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, Howl by Allen Ginsberg, and Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac.

Please also post the button somewhere on your blog (in an announcement post or in your blog’s side-bar) so that we can spread the word, gather excitement, and encourage participation.  It goes without saying that this is meant to be a positive, fun, and educational event – it’s an at-will project, so negativity is a no-go!

Sign-ups are open from now through June 15th.  If you sign-up after June 15th, you can still absolutely participate, but you may not be eligible for some of the early giveaway prizes.

To Share/Discuss on Twitter, Use Hashatag #BeatsOfSummer

73 Comments on “The Beats of Summer: A Reading Event! (Sign-Up Post)

    • Okay. I think I have my list together. Because my book-buying budget is limited, I had to make my choices according to what I could find at my two local libraries. I plan on reading:

      1. Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs
      2. Off the Road – Carolyn Cassady
      3. William S. Burroughs – Barry Miles (found this one at library book sale in April)
      4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
      5. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
      6. Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958 – Joyce Johnson

      If I can get through all of those, I’ll expand my list.


      • That’s a great list! I like seeing the non-fiction, too. 🙂


  1. Hm, On the Road is on my CC list for a re-read. I’m not a big Beat person, but I might join in. Esp. interested in the two women you mention, Carolyn Cassady and Brenda Knight. What on earth would it be like to be married to Neal Cassady??


    • I need to reread On the Road, too. And I’m very interested in the women writers of this movement. Married to Cassady? Bleh! Lol


    • I just read this not to long ago for my book club. It was one of those books where it came so close to the end and I thought I was fine (already getting what was going to happen), but then right at the end started crying. I don’t know why I love this, but I really like being caught by surprise by crying.


      • Oh my, it was the wrong book. The book I was talking about was just THE ROAD. As I was getting a list of books to read together for this, I saw the difference. Now, On The Road will be on my list. Apparently, they made this into a movie and it has one of my favorite actresses in it: Kirsten Dunst. I have this rule where I have to read the book before I watch the movie, so this works well.


    • I actually haven’t been a fan, either (except for Burroughs, who I love). But it was an interesting movement and there’s so much I haven’t read, particularly the women’s works. So, I thought it was worth tackling as a little project. 🙂


  2. Talk about perfect timing. Naked Lunch is on my nightstand from the library. I’d never heard about the ‘beat’ until a few months ago, and I already have so much on my list to read so I only requested one book. Thanks for the list; it saves me a lot of work researching what to read with this.


    • I’ve read Naked Lunch a few times, and Burroughs is one of the authors I’m researching for my doctoral dissertation. He was brilliant (if rather insane) and Naked Lunch is his masterpiece, but it is not an easy book. Very disturbing for most… but important! I hope you have a positive experience with it.


    • Great! So glad to have you on board! Naked Lunch is definitely an experience.


  3. I’ve read Kerouac and Ginsberg, but I didn’t even know there were women writers of the Beat movement. Obviously I need to educate myself and look into some of these other works. Sounds like a great event!


    • Yes! They’ve been largely overlooked – I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about them as well.


    • That’s great! Plenty of time still to decide. 🙂 Glad you’re joining us!


  4. I’m so in! I’ve been dying to read all of On the Road for years now. I’d also love to reread Howl.


    • I’m definitely reading Howl! I’ve listened to it, but never actually read it.


  5. I’d love to join in! I’ve read several, but there’s quite a few I’d like to re-read and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test has been on my bookshelf waiting to be read for a long time. I love this idea!


  6. I’m on board! I’ll try to get my button up soon (papers and finals coming this week). I don’t know what I’ll be reading yet, but I’m sure Cassady, Burroughs and Kerouac will be on the list. Thanks for hosting! I love your reading events.


    • Me too.. trying to get a 20-page paper written by the end of the day and I’m only 3 pages in. Eesh. Good luck to ya! And I’m glad you’re joining us!


      • Yeah, most seminar papers at the doctoral level are about 20-25 pages. I also have an 8-pager due on Wednesday for my other class, which I also have not started. I’ll be doing that all of Tuesday & Wednesday night. And then I’m free for 3 months! Lol


  7. A good chance to find read a new Kerouac novel and perhaps something from Ken Kesey.


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    • Glad you’re with us! I might change my reading choices, too – who knows? I’ll definitely be reading Howl, but that’s the only one I’m 100% on.


  10. What a great way to start the summer! I’m planning to read On the Road. If I am able to read more I might try to read the Ken Kesey book you mentioned. I liked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Or maybe I’ll try a completely new author. Wherever my mood takes me!


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    • Great! Glad you have a book to read that fits in with the event! 🙂


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    • Sounds like an awesome plan! I’m going to start with Howl (I’ve read bits and pieces of it, and saw the James Franco movie, but I’ve never read the entire thing) and then go from there.


  14. Sounds awesome, I’m in! I was trying to figure out what to read for my summer reading list, so beat lit is a good idea! 🙂


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  16. I’m IN!!! And I haven’t read anything written by this guys yet, so I think I’ll start with the most famous works, namely On the Road and Naked Lunch.


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  18. Correct. That is why they are under the “affiliated writers” section, and not the primary section. 🙂


    • “Affiliated” doesn’t mean just close personal contact. I’m talking literary style, influence, technique, etc. Kesey did have relationships with some beats, especially Cassady and also Ginsberg. That this took place after the “On the Road” era is not significant. Kesey was directly influenced by Kerouac’s writing, and that’s where his “affiliation” with the Beat Gen. comes from, in my mind. As for Wolfe, he too was inspired by the Beat movement and writers, again Cassady and Ginsberg in particular. He and Kesey were both more 60s than 50s, but their experiences (especially going on the road in “Further” was a direct effect of Kerouac’s earlier trip – pun intended!). There are distinct differences, from the music to the drugs, but they are absolutely related by influence, style, motivations, etc.


  19. I’m joining a bit late, but I’m in! I just read Jackie’s post about The Dharma Bums, and she inspired me to re-read it!


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