My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.
But I won't bother as Steinbeck captures it so masterfully in this so I'll just jot down some thoughts about the book. It's really a must read and I'm now sorry that I didn't read it in Junior High School like I was supposed to, but somehow I don't think I would've appreciated it as much as I do today.
'Of Mice and Men' is also one of my favorites and because I lived just a few blocks up the hill from Cannery Row for a few years, that is also a beloved Steinbeck of mine. However, neither compare to The Grapes of Wrath. There's so much descriptive poetry in this book, so much of the world captured, so much heart-wrenching sorrow; I wasn't prepared for this and it rocked my emotional, historical, philosophical, privileged core.
I've never been a fan of the modern day labor unions with their mandatory memberships and political partisanship, but you can't read this book and not cheer for them; too bad they've mostly lost their original purpose.
This was a first for me with Dylan Baker as narrator, and he brings Steinbeck's characters and scenes alive. It was almost as if Steinbeck wrote this book to be read by only Baker (albeit 70 years later), much like Wil Wheaton's narration of Ready Player One. I listen at 3x speed and had no problem with the narration except for a few of Grandpa's lines, but even that went along with his persona (i.e., we all have that grandpa that no one understands, yet he talks like the world is intently listening).
Top 5 book for me: 1. Starship Troopers (Heinlein) 2. Gates of Fire (Pressfield) 3. Ender's Game (Card) 4. The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck) 5. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Vern), but with this narration it's my number one audio book, no challengers even close.
Rye-and-Indian, baked daily.
After a year focusing primarily on Russian literature, 'Grapes' was a wildly refreshing welcome: simple characters and a simple storyline that 'goes down easy.'
While simple on the surface, how wonderfully complex and absolutely powerful the characters and themes of this book are. I read this book cold, knowing nothing more about the title than 'Oklahoma in the Great Depression.' By the end, I felt the entire book was one giant, highlightable quote.
Tom Joad. Ma Joad. Jim Casy. Rose of Sharon. All of these characters and more are clearly pillars in United States literature, and the prevalent themes (despair, 'humans vs. humans,' industrialization, gender roles, self-reliance, perseverance, pride, death) are as relevant in 2016 as ever.
This title truly shines as an audiobook, and narrator Dylan Baker nails all of the idiosyncrasies with humor and sincerity. I laughed and cried throughout--'Grapes' will stay with the reader for a long time.
Listening to Dylan Baker's brilliant interpretation of this classic was an emotional and intellectual journey. The Grapes of Wrath wasn't just about the excruciatingly difficult challenge facing this tough little family. It was also about society as a whole: how it is governed by politicians, manipulated by bankers, dominated day to day by the complacently rich or economically safe, the self righteous, the cruel, the uncaring. And how people with the qualities of decency, love, strong morality try to survive against these monolithic factors.
Because every word has weight and implication, listening compelled a depth of appreciation that visual reading may not have offered: such was my concern for this family that I could have been tempted to skip the superb analysis of Steinbeck's overviews.
The characters are real: they live. It is an extraordinary feeling listening and needing, wanting, to reach out and be right there with them. Help them. Change things for them.
My favorite? Of course, hard to say, but I think it would have to be the Preacher: he is the philosopher, observer of realities but ultimately, in his questioning, hopeful of something better.
The ending: I have never before finished listening to book in tears. But the ending is not a completion: it is a culmination of lives to that point, a blending of the analogies and themes that weave richly throughout the novel.
Among the many emotional impacts for me, was the realisation that this was a novel for today. Written in 1939, it describes key issues confronting my own country, Australia. Our capacity for cruel exclusions, inward looking, complacency, injustice, manufactured fears and prejudices. And the capacity of so many for bravery, compassion, cooperation, fairness, empathy.
Steinbeck was delivering an uncompromising mirror to society, his emotions powering the novel. That it was recognised as such through the accolades and awards that poured upon this book (and him as an author, Nobel Prize included), shows that his message was received and understood by many then, and ever since. He was imploring his American to be a generous and understanding society, to build on the capacity for love and caring that the journey of the Joad family, and many thousands like them, exemplified.
This has been one of my favorite novels for decades...film also. I had this tucked away in my wish list for a couple of years and decided to treat myself. Don't wait to purchase this! Dylan Baker gives this wonderful novel a new life. Ma and Tom Joad he nails to perfection! The 'women's committee' at The Weed Patch Camp have distinct personalities and bodies. Dylan reads each one with hilarity, yet gives them the respect they deserve. Grandpa Joad is even more obnoxious and stubborn if that is possible. His stubbornness is born out of fear and a deep loss.I still feel a great sadness with every read when Grandpa becomes a shell of a man being forced off his tenant farm, then dies while on the road to Caleeefornia. His sad yet dignified burial in a unmarked grave with a note written by Tom on a filmy blank page torn from a bible, stating who this dead man was, why he died (not of murder) but from a stroke. Because 'the law' is more interested in the welfare of a dead man over a live one. Steinbeck was threatened with death if he stepped one foot into California after he published this book. It wasn't only California exploiting the decamped tenant farmers. Oregon and Washington had their big fat greedy hands in the unscrupulous business of working men, women, children and the elderly into early graves. However, Ma Joad was right when she says they are the people that survive. A wonderful book indeed.
I read nothing that is popular.
For those who have been following my reviews, you might notice a pattern in my reading habits. I like to read different types of books all the time. I don't like to stay with one genre for most parts, just because I like to expand my mind with all types of literature.
Reading a classic like "The Grapes of Wrath", makes me appreciates at what I have and how much they use to struggle at their journey to the west. I've always wanted to read Steinbeck's masterpiece, but I heard that it was depressing.
A family traveling cross country during the dust bowl to have a better life in California is still relevant for many immigrants, crossing the boarder. Reading these types of stories about our early settlers makes me wonder what obstacles that the newcomers are facing in this cruel world.
An excellent narrator who made the book come alive. As others have mentioned, the harmonica music between chapters was a bad idea. I got over it though after a few chapters. Highly recommended.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I put off listening to this book for quite a while after getting it on sale. I knew it was a well-rated classic that I really wanted to read. My reluctance, however, was due to the fear that it might be outdated, slow moving, or even boring. Oh how wrong I was!
Listening to Dylan Baker's awesome narration of Steinbeck's masterpiece, it felt like I was carried away to a different time and place. Each character had their own particular voice--it was hard to believe there was only one narrator.
I was always engrossed in the story, I learned much about a period in our history that never caught my attention before, and I felt very sad as I followed the Joad familly's desperate plight for survival.
Steinbeck's writing style made it so easy to visualize the story and the characters. I felt like I was immersed in their lives, almost a fly on the wall. I really cared what happened to each and every one of them. And finally, I was prepared for an abrupt ending, but that brought quite a surprise. I wasn't sure I believed my ears. It was totally unexpected and will remain with me for a long time to come.
Highly recommended book! Don't procrastinate. Jump right in!
This book is not one to miss! John Steinbeck is masterful in his depiction of a Depression era migrant farm family struggling to survive. Dylan Baker did a highly-affective narration of all the characters in the book! Enjoyed every minute!
I love to listen or read books...I have always got one or two books on the go at any one time. I am happily married, and live a quiet life.
I loved this book, it engulfed me from the beginning. Showing the human suffering and bondage, was riveting. Always wondering how they are going to make it through another day. The bonds of family when it was tough just to survive on nothing was endearing...I would say that this is a must read book...my heart ached for each character in their individual struggles for survival and self worth...and survival, never loosing hope for a better day.