It’s official: January 2020 was the longest January on record and I refuse to believe that it was only 31 days long. But even so, it’s given me time to read, so I guess I’m not really complaining. Especially because I reunited myself with my literary favourite, John Steinbeck.
I started reading The Grapes of Wrath a few years ago, but for whatever reason, never actually finished it. Probably because it’s super, super sad. Sadness aside, Steinbeck is my favourite so I had to read his most famous novel.
But. It’s his most famous, best loved novel. So I’m not going to pick it apart like I normally do, because everything that could be said about it most likely has been. Instead, I’m going to wax lyrical about why Steinbeck is my favourite writer of all time. Because I’m the nerdiest fan girl ever.
I fell in love with Steinbeck (the literature, not the man) when I was 15. Of Mice and Men was the set text for my GCSEs. I read it six times. I’ve always loved books, but Of Mice and Men is the novel that confirmed that love. It’s was the subject of the first essay I ever did really well on, and it’s the one that ultimately inspired me to pursue a degree in English and American Literature. So, you know. Steinbeck’s my favourite.
The quote on the back of my copy of The Grapes of Wrath calls him “a novelist who is also a true poet”, which I think is probably the most accurate thing you could say. There’s something about every single Steinbeck novel I’ve read that’s so evocative, more so, and in a completely unique way, than other authors.
Reading has never made me feel so much like I’m in another time and place than when I’m reading about the Oklahoma Dust Bowl or the Salinas Valley; two places I have never actually been in real life. Same goes for his people. They’re people I have never met, and will never meet, who are in situations that I have never known, but they’re so relatable. Steinbeck’s been described as a “writer for the people” and his characters are so human, even in situations and settings that are so far from what I know, almost a century later.
If I was Steinbeck I would have way more, and better, words to say about myself. But I’m not so I’m going to stop here. And read more Steinbeck.