John Steinbeck was an American author known for his poignant and realistic depictions of working-class life in the United States during the Great Depression. His most famous works include 'The Grapes of Wrath,' 'Of Mice and Men,' and 'East of Eden.' Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 for his rich and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception.
This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.
The book follows the Joad family, Oklahoma farmers displaced from their land during the Great Depression. The family, alongside thousands of other "Okies," travel to California in search of work and a better life. Throughout their journey, they face numerous hardships and injustices, yet maintain their humanity through unity and shared sacrifice. The narrative explores themes of man's inhumanity to man, the dignity of wrath, and the power of family and friendship, offering a stark and moving portrayal of the harsh realities of American migrant laborers during the 1930s.
The book is a tragic tale of two displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. The two main characters, an intelligent but uneducated man and his mentally disabled companion, dream of owning their own piece of land. However, their dreams are thwarted by circumstances beyond their control, leading to a heart-wrenching conclusion. The book explores themes of friendship, dreams, loneliness, and the harsh realities of the American Dream.
3. East of Eden
This novel is a multi-generational epic that follows the lives of the Trask and Hamilton families in the Salinas Valley in California. The story is deeply rooted in biblical allegory, particularly the tale of Cain and Abel, as it explores themes of love, guilt, freedom, and the inherent good and evil in human nature. The narrative provides a profound, complex portrayal of family and individual struggles with morality and love, while also reflecting on the social changes affecting America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
4. Cannery Row
Set during the Great Depression, the novel explores the lives of a community of people living in a sardine canning district on the coast of California. The narrative revolves around a group of unemployed yet resourceful men who are trying to throw a party for their friend, a marine biologist. The book is a series of vignettes, giving a detailed and humorous insight into the lives of the people in this district, their struggles, their joys, and their simple pleasures.
The book tells the story of a small coastal town in Northern Europe that is occupied by an invading, unnamed army. The town's mayor, a central figure in the story, attempts to maintain order and dignity in the face of the occupation, while the townspeople begin to form a resistance against the invaders. The narrative explores the tensions and moral complexities of war, occupation, and resistance, as well as the human capacity for dignity and bravery under oppressive circumstances.
This novel is a travelogue of an aging man and his poodle, Charley, as they embark on a road trip across America. The man, a noted author, seeks to rediscover his country and its people, using the journey as a means to reflect on his life and the changing world around him. It is a poignant exploration of the American landscape, its diverse inhabitants, and the nature of travel and self-discovery.
7. The Pearl
A poor pearl diver's life is turned upside down when he discovers a giant, magnificent pearl. Initially seen as a blessing, it quickly becomes a curse as the man and his family are consumed by greed and paranoia. Despite their dreams of a better life, the pearl brings them nothing but misfortune and tragedy, leading them to question the true value of wealth and the destructive power it can hold.