It’s time for another tour! This time, we’re celebrating the writings of John Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck lived from 1902 to 1968, writing more than two dozen books, including fiction, nonfiction, and stories. Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath, and in 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, an award given to an author with the best body of work.
I’d like to thank Karen from Books and Chocolate for her help in compiling this information.
The button is a government image of an Okie family packing up their car to travel out of the dust bowl during the Great Depression. Since this is the subject Steinbeck’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel (The Grapes of Wrath), it seemed a significant image to use to promote our own tour around the blogosphere. Feel free to download the button for your own use.
Although the tour dates are not determined yet, the tour will probably run beginning August 15 and going until about August 26, depending on how many people have signed up. We will email an assigned day. You are to post on your blog on your assigned day.
If you are coming to this late and would really like to participate, send an email to rebecca[at]rebeccareid[dot]com with your blog url, the book you’d like to write about, and your available days. Please contact me before the tour begins.
- The Pastures of Heaven (1932). A short story cycle consisting of twelve interconnected stories about a valley in Monterey, California, which was discovered by a Spanish corporal while chasing runaway Indian slaves. Written in classic Steinbeck style, the lives of the families that relocate to the valley are portrayed with a mixture of humor and poignance. A recurring theme in the book is the pain caused when people try ineptly to help or to please others.
- “Place and landscape, so characteristic of Steinbeck’s writing, figure prominently in The Pastures of Heaven, in particular the influence of the fertile valley floor upon its richly variegated denizens.” – Interpolations
- Cup of Gold (1927). A novel based on the life and death of privateer Henry Morgan. It centers on Morgan’s assault and sacking of the city of Panama, sometimes referred to as the ‘Cup of Gold’, and on the woman, fairer than the sun, who was said to be found there.
- ‘Cup of Gold is saying that to live is to hold on to that youthful spirit for as long as you can, but it is also saying that nothing is certain in your pursuit of happiness, or fortune, or glory – not success, not recognition or support, and not failure. The novel asserts you must realize this and be able to say “So be it.”’ – Jabberw00kie
- The Long Valley (1938). A collection of twelve short stories, including “The Red Pony.”
- “All together these stories paint a picture of the Salinas area: its people, its geography, its culture, its beliefs, its sins and its dreams. If you want to learn about this area of California, start with this book.” Sarah Sammis at Puss Reboots
- Cannery Row (1945). A series of vignettes about a few people living in Monterey, California.
- “Even if what he is describing is more ugly than beautiful. He has a way of saying it so that it matters. So that you, the reader, care. It does help that this one has a good deal of humor.” Becky’s Book Reviews
- Sweet Thursday (1954). A sequel to Cannery Row that takes place after World War II.
- “Love, happiness and loneliness are central themes with great highs and lows included. There is more humour here than the first book and, perhaps because it is longer, I felt the story was more substantial in some ways, less in others.” Chris at Park Benches and Book Ends
- The Red Pony (1933). An episodic novella (four different stories) about a boy named Jody Tiflin.
- “In each story Steinbeck shows us unique ways in which young Jody undergoes certain experiences as he confronts the harsh realities of life, and as a result comes closer to a realization of true manhood,” — Dark Chest of Wonders
- Of Mice and Men (1937). A novella about two migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression.
- “I was on the edge of my seat the whole time reading this one although I already knew where the plot was going having read the book and watched the movie once before. I couldn’t help but be really nervous. The writing is wonderful, the foreshadowing executed to perfection, and the relationship between these two men is described in such a way that you can’t help but love them.” Natasha at Maw Books Blog
- To a God Unknown (1933). A short novel exploring the relationship of man to his land. The plot follows a man, Joseph Wayne, who moves to California in order to establish a homestead, leaving his father, who soon dies.
- “While To A God Unknown is a minor Steinbeck, it’s important in light of the works that would come later. In its California setting, the hardship of a devastated land, and Biblical allusions we are given a dress rehearsal of major Steinbeck novels.” – Literarism
- Tortilla Flat (1935). A novel set in Monterey, California, portraying with great sympathy and humour a group of paisanos – literally, countrymen – a small band of errant friends enjoying life and wine in the days after the end of the Great War.
- “Steinbeck called it a Camelot tale, and it’s easy to see why – it depicts a glorious gathering of a group and shows of that glittering moment in time when all was right for the members of the group.” – Ex Libris Amie
- In Dubious Battle (1936). A novel about a strike in California, with the Communist leaders trying to rally the picketers together.
- “This is my new favorite Steinbeck novel. A novel about the anatomy of a strike, it kicks ass more than The Grapes Of Wrath, especially when you factor in that Paradise Lost connection.” Bybee at Naked Without Books
- The Grapes of Wrath (1939). A Pulitzer Prizing winning novel about a family of poor sharecroppers driven from their home during the Great Depression.
- “A must read. The Joad family will stick with the reader long after the final page has been turned.” Wendy at Caribousmom
- The Wayward Bus (1947). A novel written as internal monologues for characters in Salinas Valley, California in the years after WWII.
- “The Wayward Bus, gave great insight into what life was like for every day people in the 1940s. A terrific character driven novel in which I suspect that many readers might find at least one of these passengers someone they could relate to. “ Bibliophile by the Sea
- The Pearl (1947). A novel based on a Mexican folktale, exploring the secrets of man’s nature.
- “As always, Steinbeck is a genius with words, it reads so smoothly and heartfelt. His Mexico feels so real: the boats and the heat, the brush houses and the almost too closely knit community. This was a fast and interesting read.” Corinne at the Book Nest
- East of Eden (1952). An epic novel tracing the lives of two families in Salinas Valley, California.
- “The themes are fantastic, and I love the plot, but one of my very favorite things about this book is the writing. Oh my gosh, this is Steinbeck at his absolute best, it is lyrical, evocative, gorgeous, and every other good word you can think of to talk about writing.” Jen at Devourer of Books
- The Winter of Our Discontent (1961). Steinbeck’s last novel, about a former New England aristocrat now clerking in a store.
- “The writing is quite good. Better than good when you think about it. I marked passage after passage. The subject matter is interesting–complex. The hard examination of life, love, marriage, and friendship in a community.” Becky’s Book Reviews
- The Forgotten Village (1941). A film documentary written by Steinbeck about the clash between traditions and modernizations in a traditional Mexican village.
- no reviews found.
- The Moon Is Down (1942). A military propogranda novel about the occupation of a northern European town.
- “The story moves with good pace, the portrayals are effective and the story rises to make powerfully its eternal point about human liberty. The book is an assertion of freedom and human spirit. This may be the most direct, concise and effective piece of mass propaganda ever written.” gautami tripathy at everything distills into reading
- Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team (1942). A nonfiction account of Steinbeck’s involvement in a bomber team, commissioned by the Armed Services department of the USA.
- “Purely propaganda, but interesting as a time capsule, nonetheless. Plus, it’s Steinbeck, so you know it’s readable. How does he stay so enthusiastic?” Heather at Goodreads
- A Russian Journal (1948). A nonfiction account of Steinbeck’s travels through Russia during the early years of the Cold War.
- “Who would have thought a tour behind the iron curtain could be so entertaining!” Stephanie at Goodreads
- The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). A narrative nonfiction account of a 1940s marine expedition with Steinbeck’s friend Ricketts.
- “Steinbeck and Ricketts portray a life and philosophy that seems impossibly engaged, impossibly full, and it isn’t long before you’re there on the boat beside them, a can of beer in one hand and a dip net in the other, peering into blue shallows in search of strange and beautiful creatures.” Ken-ichi from Goodreads
- Once There Was A War (1958). A nonfiction novel about ordinary people during a war, written when Steinbeck was a special war correspondent (WWII).
- “Oone thing stands out among his work, and that is the idea that war isn’t so great, it isn’t so beneficial, and it shouldn’t be glorified. Throughout his articles, Steinbeck uses the human connection to war, he portrays the soldier’s own thoughts on the war, the citizen’s attitude toward the war, and the senseless brutality of war on the human race.” Tomas at Goodreads
- Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962). A travelogue with his poodle, Charley.
- “Human nature and dog nature never really change over the years.” Valerie at Life is a Patchwork Quilt
- Burning Bright (1950). An experimental morality play written in the form of a novella.
- “A stellar experimental novel, even at 87 short pages.” Jason Woolery at Goodreads
- The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957). A political satire that pokes fun of France.
- “with characters and a plot reminiscent of italo calvino’s fiction, this short novel makes a caricature of the french revolution, and, more broadly, of politics in general. while lacking in the moral impetus so prominent in his other works, pippin may well be one of steinbeck’s more humorous books.” Jeremy at Goodreads
- America and Americans (1966). A collection of Steinbeck’s journalism.
- “America and Americans is a sardonic, not always convincing but fairly provocative series of essays on America at midcentury and its infatuation with material things and the impact of this infatuation on our national character.” Rick Larios at Goodreads
- Viva Zapata! (1975). Screenplay for a fictionalized-biography of a Mexican revolutionary leader.
- “The overarching theme of both is the eternal fight of humanity against the powerful, always a worthwhile subject, and presented here in a historical and literary context that makes these screenplays worth reading.” Jlelliot at Goodreads
- The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976). A retelling of the Arthur legend, based on L’Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory.
- “Not only did he re-word the [tales], he lived them, visiting all the sites and doing years of research.” readitnweep at Goodreads