Favorite John Steinbeck Novel (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks
Classic Remarks is a meme that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. We look forward to seeing your responses!


What is your favorite John Steinbeck novel?

To date, I have only read three Steinbeck novels: The Grapes of Write, Of Mice and Men, and Tortilla Flats.  I enjoyed the first two, but Tortilla Flats is supposed to be humorous, and I just didn’t get it; it’s not my brand of humor.  If I have to pick a very favorite, it’s The Grapes of Wrath.

I was not always a Grapes of Wrath fan. I read it once in high school and thought it slow and generally odd.  It has “interchapters,” which are chapters about the general state of the country, which separate the chapters that are actually about the novel’s characters or the “main action.”  Teenage me thought this was stupid, including the infamous “turtle chapter” where readers simply read about a turtle crossing the road.  Good times, right?

However, I reread the book last year, and I think I “get” it more now.  The interchapters are important.  They’re interesting.  They offer great commentary on the main action and the message of the novel, and I don’t think it would be complete without them.  And I find the main characters and their story interesting, as well.

Steinbeck occasionally gets on a soapbox about his pet causes and the messages of his own novels, but this is not a huge deterrent for me.  It’s the style of some books, and I’ve learned to roll with it (I’m looking at you, 1984.)  Altogether, I think this is an engaging and fascinating read.  It looks long, but it’s worth it.

Are you participating this week? Leave us the link to your post in the comments! Or just comment with your favorite Steinbeck novel.

Briana

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18 thoughts on “Favorite John Steinbeck Novel (Classic Remarks)

  1. bookescapadeblog says:

    I read The Grapes of Wrath three years before and totally enjoyed it. I am not sure if I really “got” the book but the incidents and emotions of the novel hold good even after 70 years. I felt the novel was timeless.
    Cheers,
    BookEscapade

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    • Briana says:

      Well, who knows if I ever truly “get” books. I’m sure I’ll see something new if I reread it and will learn something every time. :p But I did at least come to understand the function of the interchapters, while in high school I really did think they were the stupidest thing ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. suzannedavis11 says:

    I taught high school seniors a seminar course in Literature and Religion. The Grapes of Wrath is full of Biblical allusions, so we dug into it pretty deep. I created all kinds of study guides and discussion questions. Of course, I learned more than anyone since I had never studied it in school myself! One great resource for studying Grapes is Google Earth.

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    • Briana says:

      That sounds like such an interesting class! I didn’t even think of Google Earth, but Steinbeck does seem like a good choice for looking at the environment and such.

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  3. readinginthewings says:

    I have to say Of Mice and Men. I read it in high school and it was the first book that made me cry, so I have an emotional attachment to it. I also love East of Eden though. I really enjoy Steinbeck in general, and I’ve been meaning to get to Grapes of Wrath for a while now.

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    • Briana says:

      I first read Of Mice and Men in eighth grade which, in retrospect, I realize was a slightly odd choice by the teacher for that age level, but I also was very invested in it! It does tug on the emotions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. rabbitideas says:

    I’ve taught Of Mice and Men a lot so I know it well and do love it, but for myself I think I prefer The Grapes of Wrath now, the journey they take seems to tell the bleak story of life at that time in a more realistic way. I love Steinbeck.

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    • Krysta says:

      I think Of Mice and Men is the only Steinbeck I’ve read. No, wait. I’ve also read The Red Pony. But I couldn’t tell you what it’s about! Maybe I should read more Steinbeck!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jillian says:

    East of Eden is DEFINITELY my favorite, but I’ve never read The Grapes of Wrath; I might like it too. I do intend to read it one of these days. East of Eden is WONDERFUL, though. 🙂

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  6. nualacharlie says:

    East of Eden is definitely my favourite Steinbeck, The grapes of wrath was great all until the last page, I hate the ending, and I don’t think it would be even possible.

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  7. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    My favorite Steinbeck novel is East of Eden but it’s been years since I’ve read it. It was one of the few assigned books that enjoyed reading in high school so I highly recommend it. I’ve read Of Mice and Men as well… but I didn’t like that one as much. And I own a copy of The Grapes of Wrath but I haven’t started it yet. XD

    Summer

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