Thursday, June 9, 2011

June/July Book Club

Travels With Charley: In Search of America

This is the book I have decided to choose for our book club selection. I left it off the book list which could only have been an oversight, because this is one of my favorite books to read. I haven't read it in years, but in my life I have read it no less then 6 or 7 times. PLUS it is one of Steinbeck's "short" books, and given the fact that we are into June already, summer is busy for most people, and most of us will be vacationing a bit (rapids), a short, easy read sounds like just the thing.

A little about the book:

Have you ever read a Steinbeck book and been totally moved by the way he can write about the land? There are few more beautiful bits of writing then when he describes the Salinas Valley in East of Eden. Have you ever read his descriptions of people and thought, "man, this has got to be an interesting guy, I would love to sit down and chat with him and get to know him better"? Well, if you by chance have, this book is as close as you can get. This is a work of non-fiction (I love my non-fiction, as you probably know).

Near the end of his life, Steinbeck decided that being an American author, it was about time he really got to know America. So he bought a truck/trailer, scooped up his dog Charley, and took a road trip that took him all around the country from Long Island to his beloved California and back again. Being very well known, he traveled incognito, never telling the people he met who he was. He drove the countryside, wrote very descriptive passages about the land he observed, chatted with people at campsites and diners, and expressed his thoughts on the changes in America and the differences of people and attitudes from state to state. I love his musings and I really love how he relates to his dog. They have a very cute relationship. (There is a part where he is excited to see how Charley reacts to the Redwoods in N. California since he considers Charley a tree aficionado, only to find that Charley can't even comprehend them as trees, they are just too big, therefore is unimpressed). He also has a very memorable encounter with a gas station attendant in Oregon I believe, which is one of my favorite parts of the book.

This book makes you want to travel and see the places he describes. It makes you think about the state of America and where it's going. It makes you wonder how incredibly shocked Steinbeck would be to see America today. Steinbeck is an amazing writer, he blows me away, reading this book is a fun glimpse into the man behind some really wonderful classic books I love. Hope you guys read it and like it.


Amy said...

I'm so excited. I've never read this book and it sounds delightful. Sounds perfect for a busy summer. Thanks Em.

Sue said...

This is one Steinbeck I've always meant to read, but never got around to it. Good pick, Em.

And, I didn't read the Poisonwood Bible. It's not that I didn't want to, it's just I've been trying to get through my current book and I cannot read more than one book at a time like some people can. I'm reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" which I like when I'm reading it, but I'm having a hard time setting aside time to read it.

I will eventually read the Poisonwood Bible. It's a title I've had in my little notebook I keep in my purse that I write down movies, books etc I hear about that sound interesting.

For those that went to the Bodyworks exhibit, it's the little free da Vinci notebook we all got. It has my observations from that exhibit and they still crack me up. My favorite one is "What's up with the nipples?"

Cat said...

Sweet. I love this book.

Emily said...

I love your body work notebook. Your observations totally cracked me up too.

Haley said...

Excited to read it! I'm ashamed to say I've never read a Steinbeck novel.

Pops said...

Ah, Steinbeck, good choice. I rember reading Travels with Charley when I was in school and liked it. Anything Steinbeck is good. I read "East of Eden" in spanish while on my mission for spanish practice. Pretty tough in spanish with all the discriptive prose. Anyway, nice one, amy.

Amy said...


Amy said...

Just paid .99 for a copy at our used bookstore. Haley and I will share it since it's a quick one.