Classics Circuit Tour – John Steinbeck

I’ve just signed up for the John Steinbeck Classics Circuit Tour and there’s still time to sign up if you want to. I read the more usual Steinbeck books, Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row and such, when I was a teenager and I didn’t feel like revisiting them. So I’ve decided to go for a book which I hope will be completely different – Travels with Charley. It’s about his journey to rediscover America, accompanied by his French poodle Charley.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book sometime in August, I think.

6 thoughts on “Classics Circuit Tour – John Steinbeck

  1. I loved Travels with Charley, my very first Steinbeck. I had been so intimidated, probably by tales of Grapes of Wrath — which was my second Steinbeck and I loved it too. I’ve also signed up for the Circuit and I’m reading another Steinbeck travelogue, A Russian Journal. I might read a second book as well.

    I look forward to your thoughts on Charley.

    • Karen,
      I had no idea that Travels with Charley even existed until I saw it in a charity shop yesterday, perfect for the Classics Tour, and so different from anything else that I’ve read by Steinbeck. I’m really looking forward to reading it especially as you loved it. I’ll be on the look-out for the Russian Journal now.

  2. I loved, loved, loved Grapes of Wrath, a book read on my own when I was in my late twenties-early thirties, years after being assigned in high school to read many of Steinbeck’s lesser books (The Red Pony, The Winter of Our Discontent, and many more), all of which were okay reads. I just didn’t connect with them.

    The Grapes of Wrath, I believe, is Steinbeck’s masterpiece. Its themes will never become old because the same societal clashes will never go away–it’s the story of impoverished, traumatized refugees on the road, never giving up and always searching for a way–any way–to survive.

    The Grapes of Wrath was made into a wondrous movie, starring Henry Fonda. I saw the film (black & white) after reading the book, and as I recall, all of Steinbeck’s themes and subtle nuances were left intact. As with the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, the film Grapes of Wrath is an absolute must-see, flawless reproduction of a great novel.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

    • Judith,
      I read Grapes of Wrath as a school set book, I think we were about 14 or 15 when we read it. I loved it and there are bits in that book which still stick with me today. I thought it might be a bit depressing to re-read it now, given how miserable the world is at the moment. I saw the film years ago too, it hasn’t been on for yonks though, I would like to see it again. Henry Fonda was the perfect choice as I recall, looking emaciated and worn out in his dungarees.

  3. Now that I’ve used your blog to have my thoughts go wild with Grapes of Wrath, I can say that yes, I did read Travels with Charley when I was in high school (on my own, not assigned.) Everyone else seemed to be reading it. I liked it, but I expect I would like it much more now. I really think I was too young to appreciate a later-in-life road trip across America.


    • Judith,
      I think it’ll be a really enjoyable and interesting read. I realised a couple of years ago that there is so much of Britain that I haven’t seen yet so we’re trying to rectify that and we have a list of places to see and we’re gradually ticking them off. Unlike Steinbeck I’m not fond of travelling but I do like seeing new things so I just have to force myself, I know I’ll enjoy myself when I reach the destination. I think the book was published in 1962 so it’ll be historical now, a snapshot of the times I suppose. I’m wondering if there is a modern America road trip book which I can read after this one!

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