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Steinbeck

Book Tips - John Steinbeck

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962 was awarded to John Steinbeck "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception".

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Cannery Row

A humane look at a cast of characters with a sympathetic biologist as the focus. A unique portrait of a community in California before the onrush of the postmodern age.
/Paul, United States
It provides an interesting prerogative to an otherwise meaningless life.
/Jessica, United States
A curious insight to lives inflicted with social poverty amid the Great Depression in coastal California, without either being a direct social denunciation or a mockery of economic poverty. While reading it ,I, at times, was enraged with the non-committed style of Steinbeck for being so light with so grave an issue, quite unlike what he had done earlier in his epic 'The Grapes of Wrath', where he was not in constraints to suppress his anger. Yet, at the end of this book, I felt I got the message that this very original kind of writer very surreptitiously aimed at: An alternate way of survival through collective living, almost instinctive, analogous to the coastal marine species the writer has written about in this book. In the end I felt so moved that I translated the whole book in my language, Bengali, and presently am trying to find an interested publisher. I am still puzzled with this small book which is why it has turned out my favourite, notwithstanding Steinbeck's other works such as 'The Grapes of Wrath', 'Of Mice and Men', 'Tortilla Flat', 'The Pastures of Heaven' and his tremendous non-fiction 'The Log from the Sea of Cortez', all of which I have read and re-read over and over.
/Soumitra Lahiri, India

Cup of Gold

Exciting.
/Tonje Mariell Johansen, Norway

East of Eden

Combines emotion and reason in characters you can believe. Maybe a bit more self-obsessed, but that is the story being told by descriptions of the personalities and situations.
/Tim, United States
It is a beautifully-written, sweeping family epic.
/David Armand, United States
Steinbeck takes us into the depths of the human condition in a very subtle way. He describes for us the manner in which a live can spiral out of alignment with the Creator when indeed one adheres to the ethos of the book, which I believe can be found in that one word which stands out more than all others -'timshel- thou mayest'.
/Jerome Strong, United States
I like this book mainly because it shows life as it is, with all its twists and turns. It is a story of real people, real love and passion, pain and truth. It shows the difficult way to knowledge. It tells about the sorrow of being able to see reality, but not being able to change the things in a better direction. "East of Eden" is a guide to life, an endless fairytale, a message to all of us, a call not to be afraid of our human weakness. Because only this way we can truly see our strength.
/x, Bulgaria
This novel, which I read at a relatively young age, changed the way I look at the world for ever. East of Eden analyzes the forces of good and evil which have been studied in modern society since the story of Cain and Abel in the Old Testament. Bringing to life the story of the two brothers and the colorful supporting characters and setting creates an incredible reading experience. I will never look at the forces of good and evil the same way again.
/Elena Nicolaou, United States
Covers an entire family history, not afraid to shy away from difficult topics.
/Pam Brunton, United Kingdom
Simply written and beautifully told. The way these characters develop overtime makes you realize how time really does go by fast and that it may be a long time before you realize the errors of your ways.
/Hamza, Canada
This book told me more about life than all of the others I've read. And it's done so merely & easily, it sounds so up-to-date as a real copy-book maxim that I dare to think it'll have a long life.
/Maria, Uzbekistan
I have read this book over and over again for 20 years; each reading is through different eyes as I change. It has a little bit of everything in life in it. I love that Steinbeck always has room for redemption and hope within his stories. But, there is also raw and brutal reality. His stories are Truth and 'East of Eden' is plentiful, infected, with it. Blood and guts, beauty and love, peace and war, betrayal and loyalty. But most importantly, his characters are well drawn and deep; you really get to know them and feel that you recognize who they are more than we even know ourselves. I would read The Bible if Steinbeck could re-write the darn thing. This was my first and my favorite Steinbeck novel.
/Rebecca Corey, United States
Steinbeck's ability to balance the dramatic with the philosophical, allegory with reality is unparalleled by any English-speaking writer. This re-telling - re-thinking - of the Cain and Abel story is visceral and heartbreaking, and also hopeful. I have never felt such an affinity for a character of fiction than I felt with Cal Trask. This novel is underrated, as far as works by Steinbeck goes - it is more subtle, meaningful and absorbing than 'The Grapes of Wrath.'
/Alexander, Canada
It's full of wisdom, with interesting characters that lead interesting lives.
/Vu, Australia
It is a powerful picture of the olden-day style of California, with strong, moving emotions that portray brilliantly the emotions of the characters, and leave the person stunned at its ending by its sheer ability to suck you in and capture you.
/Jacqueline K., Singapore
So dramatic and yet it seems so real ... and full of human nature such that anyone can relate to its story.
/Renz Salumbre, Philippines
You will fall in love with Steinbeck's way of introducing the person, the setting and the conflict. It was just a great book.
/Sharon Lee, United States
'East of Eden' is a remarkably subtle and simple portrayal of the ability to choose one's way of life. Steinbeck's masterful storytelling and beautiful writing are displayed in a clear and moving way.
/Marc Garellek, Canada

In Dubious Battle

The agony of socialism and the conflicts of capitalism presented with such a genuineness that can only be churned out of a heart which is stirred to its core by the misery and trauma of others around.
/Faraan Tarique, India

Of Mice and Men

It's very realistic, and it really dragged me along the story.
/Zaifful Gani, Philippines
One of the most accurate descriptions of the spectrum of humanity ever written
/Chris Muse, Other
The book shows the reality of the farmers in a difficult epoch. It's a beautiful story of dreams, hope and friendship.
/Rodrigo Vinícius de, Brazil
A friend of mine suggested that I read this book. I was 21, and I had just lost my father. My life was going no where. I was sitting at a bus stop, early one morning, reading this fragile book. I was so taken by the words of Steinbeck that I didn't realize the arrival and the departure of the buses. When I finished to book at last, it was dusk. I was still sitting at the bus bench and crying like a little boy.
/Shahe Mankerian, United States
Steinbeck's tale of the down-trodden ranchers of 1930s America is arguably a very brief one. Being a mere novella, one would not expect it to be called an epic piece of literature. Yet to me, it is one of the most endearing and powerful books I have ever read. Many classmates of mine argue that not much happens in the book, and often criticise it for the ultimate lack of progress or development made by any of its characters. For myself though, this is what makes the novel truly moving. Perhaps it is the authencity with which Steinbeck forms the unique dialogue of his American characters or just their sympathetic positions in the story, but something about Steinbeck's characters, from the admirable Slim to the resentful Curley and his wife, really hits me as a reader where few other books more than double this one's size have done. Each of the characters have their motives and their flaws. And though the novel does have its villains and heroes, Steinbeck so amazingly crafts them that each and every one of them can be pitied by the reader in some way. Steinbeck's mastery of literature is shown best in his two protagonists, George and Lennie. Throughout the novella, their situation fluctuates from bad to good to worse, yet throughout the tale their friendship stands as the shining message of the novel, of the strength humans can give one another in a world seemingly controlled by those who seek to portray the worst of humanity, as we see in the character of Curley. The character who has always resonated with me most is George, due to the fact that of all the characters it is he who highlights most accurately the human condition. He is an incredibly complex and multi-faceted character. At times, George is an almost antagonistic character in his cruel treatment of Lennie and apparent resentfullness at having chosen to look after Lennie. Yet he also shows us the vulnerability of mankind. Despite his beratement of Lennie, it is George's love for Lennie that stands as the biggest testament of his character. George is by no means perfect, yet by the end of the novel his willingness to give up the dream, by killing his friend, really shows a benevolence in his character, made even more powerful by the flaws of his character it must overcome. In making George such a flawed, yet also kind character, Steinbeck keeps to the duty of all great writers - to show the truth. And Steinbeck does this completely. Whereas some do complain about the apparent lack of development in the story of the characters and their dreams, this is what makes the book so moving. We go along this journey with his characters, sharing their hopes, their dreams and their sorrow when finally Steinbeck calls on us to remember that in reality, the best laid plans of mice and men do often go awry.
/Joseph Arthur Smith, United Kingdom
It's a good book it in my top 15.
/Brandon Muchachalatia, Bolivia
Because it depicts beautiful descriptions but also tells a compelling, tragic story-line I shall never forget.
/Lucy, United Kingdom
A very humane tale about migrant workers, loneliness, loyalty, and mercy.
/Michael Fredette, United States
It is a very touching book that helps you understand not only about the hardship of life, but how to deal with it, and that we should never give up on those we care about, even if the choice we have to make is a difficult one.
/Lyuba, Italy
The book is really interesting.
/Chanise, Jamaica
The foreshadowing events and the metaphor with mice and men throughout the story.
/Grace, Canada
I read this book in school for my English Literature exam. The novel fascinates me, because of its references to paternal instinct. In particular the last scene where George kills Lennie - the resonating emotion from George is not guilt (as most would interpret), but failure. It is my opinion that the main part of grief is the feeling of failure: a parent's job is to provide their child with life and equip them with the tools they need to live it, if the child dies the parent has failed to do this job, they have failed their child. George always treated Lennie as his child, his responsibility and when Lennie dies, George feels he has failed to do his duty as his protector. I also love how simple John Steinbeck's style of writing is, it is not flowery and flashy, he merely wants his reader to understand his point of view.
/Rhianedd Adlam, United Kingdom
When I finished reading this book I began to weep like a child as I was so influenced by the story. As you start reading the story you can't help finish it. Steinbeck is the best.
/Hanaa, Morocco
I liked the book because it showed me the meaning of friendship which was love, endurance, and forgiveness.
/Owen Osam Temple, Nigeria
I enjoyed reading this book because of its timeless themes as well as the attachments to the characters you feel as you read this book. It is easy to read enjoyable and not at all predictable. It is captivating and moving without being cheesy.
/Laura Winters, United States
It's really interesting & sad! I love reading it.
/Kimberley, United Kingdom
It's very interesting and it's really nail-biting to see what will happen next in the book.
/Avraham, United States
It is a very sad and very depressing book.
/Lydia Dullaghan, United States
The way that the story was presented. It was a great way to tell if someone is one of your real friends and if you have a great friendship with that person. It just taught me a lot and I learned a lot also.
/Letresa Lampkin, United States
Very interesting and at times touching tale of two men's dream during the Great Depression, and how it all falls apart.
/Laurence Baudert, Australia
'Of Mice and Men' is a great story. I could not leave the book until I had finished it. The characters are extraordinary, George, and specially Lennie. I highly recommend it.
/Rodrigo U. Flores, Bolivia
It makes you realize that you have to be careful who you trust; Lennie trusted Curley's wife, and she made him freak out and kill her.
/Billy, United Kingdom
This short book is densely packed with real people who do not fit into that cruel world they are living in. Lenny is a bit too dumb and George is a bit too good to lead a normal life and finally reach their dream farm. Unfortunately, I think that I am just like Lenny and George; I am always "a bit too ..." to fit and settle on my dream farm.
/Marysia, Poland
It is a captivating story of two men who have a special bond. I love those kind of books, I never wanted to put it down!:)
/Kelly, United States
Just a really good book. I really enjoyed reading:)
/Joelle, United States
Steinbeck's novel 'Of Mice and Men' is a wonderful book to read, it is a bit of a challenge, just like 'The Grapes of Wrath' is right now, but the writing style (Southern dialect) is trying, but I've learned to get through that and move on. I was so upset when the dog was shot just because he was older, I don't remember much of the book because I read it a few years ago, but I just remember I enjoyed it thoroughly!
/Abbey, United States
A faultless story.
/Emel, Turkey
It is a realistic story about people.
/Harry Gitelman, United States

The Grapes of Wrath

This is a beautiful portrait of one family during America's Great Depression, and it details the acts of injustice by those in power, and how a family can endure in face of tragedy and discrimination. My grandfather and his family participated in the great migration from Oklahoma to California like the Joads. Steinbeck captures the Okies resiliency, as well as the trials that faced many of them on the road and in California. It is not an easy book to read, but an unsettling one that offers an accurate glimpse into 1930s America. Fast forward several decades and one can substitute Okies for other cultural groups.
/Rachel Zuffa, United States
The best book of the last 100 years. The role of the banks, in the human history. Is a book to be read again and again! Today very active.
/Angela, Greece
It is very interesting, and I should read it cause I need it in my studies.
/Adela, Algeria
The book reveals a kind of human truth which exists at a specific time in a specific place.
/Keith Chung, China
Steinbeck's advanced prose and his description of human nature and poverty digs deep into the reader (as it did to me) and very easily reels them in with advanced language and poetic maturity. A sublime work of art.
/Reinde Schtarczy, United States
The most I can tell about it, is that I read it five times. At my age it was unlikely that I would read it once more.
/Mauricio H. Robotnik, Argentina
Reveals most movingly the situation of the poor connected to the soil of mid-America in the Depression, the struggles of families for survival and the heartless social forces arrayed against them, a vivid picture that remains current in my mind after more than half a century and still has meaning for our time.
/Medicine Story Manitonquat, United States
It has simple language and yet it is very powerful.
/Ahditya Melkote, United States
The setting is so vivid.
/Ethan Steiner, United States
The way he has described the depression and how people were suffering. He also, indirectly, in a subtle way portrays how greed and wrath are a malicious one. He has also succeeded in making the readers feel what is happening throughout the novel. He has used a story line which can actually bring out the message or theme he wants to convey. No other story line would have been more appropriate. The end is so powerful to feel what poverty and depression could mean.
/Sujitha Ive, United Arab Emirates
This book gets under your skin (like 'The Pearl'). People need protection against the powers of corporations. People need to organize to defend their rights!
/Wibren Visser, Austria
The story was a real look inside a human's struggle to be free and be happy despite his social status. A spiritual revelation to the reader.
/Stanley Riden, United States
A wonderful story about the plight of the Okies during the great depression. I enjoyed reading the intricate details about the squatter camps and the treatment of the poor migrant farm workers. A very ironic story.
/Janet Hall, United States
Because of its socio-political relevance told beautifully and described graphically culminating in the most breath taking ending I have ever come across!
/Deb Ray-Chaudhuri, United Kingdom
I read it first in 1989 and I liked it for the pathetic condition that the Joad family had to undergo while migrating. When I read it nearly 10 years later I felt the universality of the theme of man's unending search of the self put against Destiny.
/Medha Dhastri, India
It is a good story.
/Jessie, Russia
The language brings the land of the Dust Bowl of 1930s Oklahoma alive, and tells a timeless story of the smallness and fragility of individual lives set in a landscape ruled by huge faceless businesses. The Joad family are unforgettable characters, particularly Tom, the framed murderer out on parole, and his magnificent Ma. Steinbeck's empathy with the poor and destitute Okies is wonderful, and the ending of the book is the one part the film couldn't match.
/Veronica Lowe, United Kingdom
The greatest social novel I ever read. Everything seemed so real when I read it! I felt like I was one of the heroes of the book. All my respect for Sir John Steinbeck!
/Valentina, Romania
It takes you back on location, time and in the hearts of the characters and their plights and struggles. Ultimately their redemption. It touched me and changed my life.
/Ellen Beener, United States
A powerful voice against the ills of the great depression and a grim reminder that capitalism is not the panacea to the world's economic woes. Steinbeck has very well captured the harsh reality that the poor and down trodden face in every day life, the fact that in America there lies a vast gap between opulence and misery and that nation's face the real test of creating prosperity without loosing humanity. I could feel the intensity of suffering the "Okies" face in their battle against fate. The fact that farming is a gamble and that we need to create an insurance against the vagaries of nature. The world over farmers are committing suicide because they cannot face the burgeoning debt burden heaped upon them by nature and at the end of the novel one cannot help but reflect upon the economic policies of the world which unfortunately have failed to solve humanity's greatest need of creating a world based on the equitable distribution of wealth. Steinbeck has laid bare the hollowness of, "American Capitalism" and his voice for the most helpless citizenry of this world will continue to echo the yearning for social justice and economic parity. I salute Steinbeck and recommend this book to any one who believes the world needs a Gross Happiness Index to judge the level of prosperity and not the other economic parameters like GDP and HDI.
/Abhijeet Ingale, India
It is one of the greatest books ever written - sadly, not many read it in India: I think it well merits attention from everyone everywhere.
/Lalit, India
It clearly conveys the plight of the "Okies" in their journey west to California, and the persecution they face from their very own people.
/Andrew Leung, Australia
It is a fabulous book which I look forward to reading again.
/Richard, United States
A great sense of how people lived in the depression.
/John Smith, Bhutan
It's very deep and harsh, extremely moving.
/Viviana Mucarzel González, Argentina
I'm still reading the novel, but so far it is one of those not-putting-down, intense books! It's written in an amazing way with amazing, difficult, trying wording ... amazing morals involved in the structure of the overall book, I don't mind the swearing, I think it can be quite funny, but it was the only real way of the time to express yourself. I am not understanding the humor or irony used though, the innuendos as others would call it ...
/Abbey, United States
John Steinbeck has vividly portrayed the social impacts of the economic downturn on the middle-class and the low-class workers and their eventual pressure on their livelihoods and their despairs.
/Derroy, Singapore
I like the structure, the way the chapters alternate from the human side of the depression to the way in which it was a machine, or inhuman.
/Theresa, United States
Steinbeck's stories, especially in this case, are like a murmur rising gradually until it speaks to every aspect of your life. He was the definition of what American writing should be!
/Luca Mihalj, Canada

The Moon Is Down

This novel is an outstandingly realistic narrative of life under enemy occupation. Steinbeck is at his best here as he uses his unique form of poetic prose to describe the purgatory that is occupation. The realism and power of this work is reinforced by the large reading audience it enjoyed in countries occupied during World War II, where possession of a copy was a capital offense. This novel deserves a renaissance.
/Kenneth Jones, United States

The Pearl

A novel that takes you to an unknown world of adventure.
/Nathan Rahat, United States
Steinbeck got me with this story when he let me interpret my own "song of the morning". He wrote about struggle, poverty and misfortune, and finding beauty in such devastation.
/Gwendoline Hernández, United States
Steinbeck got me with this story when he let me interpret my own "song of the morning". He wrote about struggle, poverty and misfortune, and finding beauty in such devastation.
/Gwendoline Hernández, United States
I like the economic contents of it.
/Sungvean, Thailand
Because the story line gives knowledge about the fishermen village and about their life ...
/Nurfaiqah bt Abdul, Malaysia
It's a very simple book with lots of emotions of a pearl fisherman and his family.
/Anjaly Kurian, India
It has beautiful description and has a very well thought out point.
/Lucas, United States
I like this book not because of the story within it but because of the preciseness and distinct description of the characters and the environment.
/Nicholas Sirjoo, Trinidad and Tobago
I like it because it is interesting and fun.
/Khadijah Saunders, Bahamas
It just proved that what wealth could do to you as a human. I thought that the child getting killed was the point that proves what people can do.
/AK, United States
It was eye opening and reminded me of some of H.P. Lovecraft's books. It demonstrates that evil can come in all forms and affects everyone around, not just the one who holds it. It explains the jealousy and corruption of many people, and how a very foolish thing can turn humans against one another. Lying, which is also told of in the book, can hurt in many more ways, and is used in various forms. Even the most supportive and poor person can be corrupted by beauty and money. Its like a lesson taken from the Bible and put into a new light, one that captures people and tears them away from what they think they know, to what should be known.
/Abbye, United States
I love this novel, another GREAT, extremely well written Steinbeck book, I love the story ... it reminds me of a parable in the Bible, but it seems to expand so much more to our daily lives, by telling a story of a man's lesson of treasures and their consequences and benefits. Steinbeck's done it again with another wonderful book, I can never say how much I appreciate his works!
/Abbey, United States
This is my first and my only read book by John Steinbeck, and I found that this story really tell us a true life of people who suffer misery of poverty, and other moral values, that you'll found out after read this great book ...
/Munzir, Malaysia

The Wayward Bus

This is one of those gems you find when you get into Steinbeck's work. Certainly, it's a great example of characterization, one of the elements of fiction he mastered so well. An apprentice of the craft of writing will get thrilling lessons; also, check out 'Disgrace', a novel by 2003 Nobel Winner J.M. Coetzee.
/Augusto Wong Campos, Peru

The Winter of Our Discontent

Because of the strong inner figth of the main character, this a book that makes us, in a vivid way, reflect about very basic values.
/Cristina Gonzalez, Mexico
This novel showed the inner workings of a soul searching for answers. I was able to connect with the main character and his struggle to reconcile his inner principles with the expectations of society and those around him. When I neared the end of the novel, I was afraid he would succumb to the pressure around him and end his life, but he, surprisingly, finds the stone talisman his daughter has slipped in his pocket unnoticed and he chooses to live. This made the entire novel worthwhile. He feels a need to survive and be there for his daughter, for his family. I am a reader who seeks out books with strong themes that uplift the soul and Steinbeck provided a great example in his book. At the end of the novel, the main character, Ethan Allen Hawley, has made a lot of mistakes that weigh on his conscience, but he does not make the easy decision; he chooses to live and return to his family. Steinbeck did not just provide fiction that entertains and keeps readers interested, but produced fiction that allows readers to close his books with a better sense of life and their place in the world.
/Tim Ruoff, United States
It's a great psychological study of the unseen forces that shape a community. The second half of the book takes your breath away, as the setting of New Baytown is reintroduced with sweeping new perspective. Steinbeck proves his mastery of shifting scope and perspective throughout the book, giving a clear, journalistic view of the main character's growing self-awareness.
/Jason, United States

To a God Unknown

I am from a village in India, a lecturer in Kannada. when i read this book i was surprised to see so many belives are like india. People are same everywhere! I felt, for example one of the charcter in the novel says looking at moon's circles it will not rain! So in india. The life of the village is similar to us.
/Nagamani, India

Tortilla Flat

So much poetry in a novel who just tell the day-by-day of a band of broken arms!
/Samuel, France
The subtlety of humour and his affection for the characters is brilliantly balanced. Steinbeck makes you envy the life and loves of a family of Drunks.
/Noel Greene, Ireland

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

John Steinbeck describes his travel through the United States in a very likeable way, and it is evident that he appreciates what he experiences and observes. Reading his book makes you feel as if you were traveling with him.
/Thomas Hofer, United States
John Steinbeck tells of his travel with Charley, his dog, through the United States. He shows patriotism at its best and describes the beauty of America in a friendly and warm way. The reader is literally invited to join.
/Thomas Hofer, United States
Because of the truth he speaks, and the simple way of seeing things ...
/Florea Constantin, Romania
John Steinbeck does a marvellous job in describing a trip through the United States, and in so doing invited patriotism at its best. He shows the beauty of the scenery in several sites of the United States, and invites the reader to do his own travel. The hymn ĎAmerica the Beautifulí comes to mind as this book is read.
/Thomas Hofer, United States
"You do not take vacations, vacations take you." - John Steinbeck
/Hal Golson, United States
Because this is among Steinbeck's most elegiac works, and it is essential for the understanding of America in the 1960's. Besides - it is one of the finest achievements in the 'books-of-inquiry'-genre!
/William, Finland
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