Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy Birthday John Steinbeck

It's John Steinbeck's 101st birthday today. I first encountered Steinbeck in a high school English class (The Grapes of Wrath) and fell in love. I read some more in other classes. My junior year of college I was studying abroad and picked up East of Eden. It was like talking to an old friend.


Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. As a librarian, I cringe when teens come in needing a book to read, but it has to be over a certain page count. This is my go-to answer why page counts are stupid. Think a short book is somehow lesser? It's OF MICE AND MEN, one of the greatest American novels! And it's only 108 pages, way too short for any length requirements I've come across.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. This is another one I had to read for school, but it has one of my favorite opening lines in literature and was my favorite book senior year (and not just out of "school books," out of all books).

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck. When you think tense WWII spy fiction, Steinbeck isn't usually an author that springs to mind, but here he is! It was first published in 1942 and tells the story of a small town overtaken by occupying forces and the daily small things the citizens do to sabotage the army. A quick, tense read.


Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee. When Travis's family moves from Salinas to a fancy new development, he often returns to the library he loved. But the library might be closed down, and Travis starts to see Steinbeck characters come to life around town.

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner. Scooter's father left years ago and no one knows where he is now. Scooter is dying, and his final wish is for his best friends to find him, and hand-deliver a valuable edition of Of Mice and Men.

Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about The Grapes of Wrath by Steve Goldman. David and Mitch are best friends, but things have been different ever since David came out. Mitch can't get a date to prom and instead of just doing his book report on The Grapes of Wrath, he turned in a claymation movie, that had nothing really to do with the book. He might fail English. He might get suspended.


Student Companion to John Steinbeck by Cynthia Burkhead. Probably not one for general reading, but a great resource of biographical information, his works, and why he matters today.

The Portable Steinbeck by John Steinbeck, edited by Susan Shillinglaw. I've been a fan of the Penguin's portable anthologies since high school. This one contains excerpts from his longer works and the complete text of some of his shorter ones, as well as speeches and short stories.

Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War by John Steinbeck, edited by Thomas E. Barden. Steinbeck's last published work were the columns and articles he published in Newsday, reporting on his time in the field in Vietnam from 1966-67.

What are your favorite works by Steinbeck. What other books do you know for teens that reference his work?

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