Customer Reviews for

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Average Rating 4
( 129 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Funny and captivating

I absolutely love this book. I enjoyed very much everything that John Steinbeck wrote, but it was all fiction. This is a more or less a factual account of one trip across America. Apart from the fact that I am planning such a trip myself, I could not put the book dow...
I absolutely love this book. I enjoyed very much everything that John Steinbeck wrote, but it was all fiction. This is a more or less a factual account of one trip across America. Apart from the fact that I am planning such a trip myself, I could not put the book down, he is so entertaining, you laugh, you muse and you enjoy the beautiful stops with him along the journey. I recommend this book to everyone that enjoys traveling.

posted by claraone on January 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Good Read, but Best for Target Demographic

In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck with his poodle, Charley, sets out to rediscover the country he is known for writing about. In their pickup truck and camper, the duo embarks on a journey that spans from New England to California, from Midwest to Southwest, and f...
In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck with his poodle, Charley, sets out to rediscover the country he is known for writing about. In their pickup truck and camper, the duo embarks on a journey that spans from New England to California, from Midwest to Southwest, and from Yellowstone to New Orleans. On his journey, Steinbeck reflects on what makes America "America" and how our country had changed in the 1960's. As you may have guessed from the other reviews, this was overall a good read, it's John Steinbeck writing it after all. He gives plenty of details about all of the sights he sees and uses his great word choice to describe them, plus it's pretty entertaining, especially if you have a dog like Charley (I do). However, as a high school student, I found it hard to relate to. It deals with pretty universal themes, travel and what makes America "America". But, it also deals quite a bit with less universal themes, like aging and changing times. These themes are evident by Steinbeck's crotchetiness towards things like highways and vending machines. So as you could imagine, I couldn't always pay attention whenever he was complaining about plastic wrap or just being old. I suppose then the target demographic I would be referring to is anyone who can relate to a world that has changed dramatically in their adult lifetime, so you'd probably have to be a bit older than I am. Some major events have happened since I was born, but I was just a little kid who didn't really understand it and what it meant as far as change goes. You'd have to be someone who is old enough to compare one decade to another because you've lived as an adult through them. But don't lose hope if you're not old and crotchety! You will enjoy it if you're the kind of person who likes to travel or just are interested in the history of America in the 1960's (like I am), but maybe not as much as the former. If you do like Travels with Charley, it'd be worthwhile to read Steinbeck's other works or anything by similar authors, specifically Earnest Hemingway and The Old Man and the Sea.

posted by 9665877 on September 11, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    Good Read, but Best for Target Demographic

    In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck with his poodle, Charley, sets out to rediscover the country he is known for writing about. In their pickup truck and camper, the duo embarks on a journey that spans from New England to California, from Midwest to Southwest, and from Yellowstone to New Orleans. On his journey, Steinbeck reflects on what makes America "America" and how our country had changed in the 1960's. As you may have guessed from the other reviews, this was overall a good read, it's John Steinbeck writing it after all. He gives plenty of details about all of the sights he sees and uses his great word choice to describe them, plus it's pretty entertaining, especially if you have a dog like Charley (I do). However, as a high school student, I found it hard to relate to. It deals with pretty universal themes, travel and what makes America "America". But, it also deals quite a bit with less universal themes, like aging and changing times. These themes are evident by Steinbeck's crotchetiness towards things like highways and vending machines. So as you could imagine, I couldn't always pay attention whenever he was complaining about plastic wrap or just being old. I suppose then the target demographic I would be referring to is anyone who can relate to a world that has changed dramatically in their adult lifetime, so you'd probably have to be a bit older than I am. Some major events have happened since I was born, but I was just a little kid who didn't really understand it and what it meant as far as change goes. You'd have to be someone who is old enough to compare one decade to another because you've lived as an adult through them. But don't lose hope if you're not old and crotchety! You will enjoy it if you're the kind of person who likes to travel or just are interested in the history of America in the 1960's (like I am), but maybe not as much as the former. If you do like Travels with Charley, it'd be worthwhile to read Steinbeck's other works or anything by similar authors, specifically Earnest Hemingway and The Old Man and the Sea.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Funny and captivating

    I absolutely love this book. I enjoyed very much everything that John Steinbeck wrote, but it was all fiction. This is a more or less a factual account of one trip across America. Apart from the fact that I am planning such a trip myself, I could not put the book down, he is so entertaining, you laugh, you muse and you enjoy the beautiful stops with him along the journey. I recommend this book to everyone that enjoys traveling.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

     Reading the work of a literary giant is an experience in unders

     Reading the work of a literary giant is an experience in understanding what writing truly can be.  To have the occasion to hear the words of a legend read aloud adds to the experience while lowering “the fourth wall” between the writing and the reader.  When John Steinbeck gave expression to his thoughts, they were found to be concise, intelligent and had the ability to bring the reader to explore parts of her/him that were previously unknown.  When I found this audiobook in one of my sources, I was expecting a quality “read,” and one that would bring hours of reflection, frequent smiles and a few moments of “oh, My!”  I was not disappointed.
    When he was nearing 60, John Steinbeck purchased a 1960 GMC pick-up truck, had a custom camper made for it (maybe the first such camper in existence), took his Blue Standard Poodle, Charley, on a eleven-week, 10,000 mile journey across America.  He hoped to learn “what America really is (was)” by traveling the small roads, visiting the towns and talking to the people he met.  The unique camper and his “ambassador” (Charley) opened the way for him to meet people whom he would have had little opportunity to meet. What he found on this journey was that Americans were people, unique as individuals but not distinctive from other Americans. On this trek, he meet: Canadian migrant workers in New England, farmers in Wisconsin, an actor in the Northern Plains, old friends in Salinas, family in Texas and bigots and civil rights workers in the South.  All were people very real and very much alive.
    The majority of the book was delightful.  His conversations with Charley are the stuff of cherished friendships.  His thoughts on the things he saw reflect his powers of observation and his ability to effectively convey those thoughts to his readers.  The nights he spends in “Rocinante” (the name of Don Quixote’s horse and the moniker given his truck) were relatively few (the book indicates he suffered insomnia as well as he frequented motor courts) but it served as a place to entertain his new friends.  
    The painful part of the book was his account of his experience in the segregated South.  My “home” region has much to offer – beautiful landscapes, great food, distinct music, exceptional literature – but its history is not without serious stains.  When Mr. Steinbeck visited on this trip, the South was in the early skirmishes of the Civil Rights movement.  He saw the ugliness of those who were frightened of equality because they knew only how to be slaves to themselves.  He met quiet heroes who “forgot” to see color and therefore saw only fellow human beings.  He witnessed kindness and cruelty, beauty and depravity, tranquility amid chaos.  Then he wrote of what he saw so well the reader could feel the humidity, see the craziness and hear the groans of the labor pains of a culture being reborn.
    I look forward to reading many (perhaps all) of Mr. Steinbeck’s 32 published books.  But I doubt any will top the road trip I completed with him and Charley.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Good, but not what I expected

    In this book, Steinbeck decides to cure his "restless urge" to travel and drives cross-country in a camper top attached to three-quarter-ton pick up truck with companion, french poodle, Charley. His journey spans from New England to California, from Midwest to Southwest, and from Yellowstone to New Orleans. All throughout, Steinbeck attempts to "re-discover" America and realizes all the common changes throughout the country and also the attributes that make each destination unique. The book also highlights the relationship between Steinbeck and Charley as well as Steinbeck's fascination with the concept of travel. Overall, I thought this book was pretty good but it was not what I was expecting. after reading Of Mice and Men, I was expecting a book with awesome use of literary devices and allusions as well as powerful twists (I now realize this was a lot to expect from a non-fiction novel, but I thought Steinbeck could pull it off). The fact that Steinbeck was traveling with a dog made it even more appealing to the avid animal lover that is me, however, I thought the book was excruciatingly boring at parts and had an inadequate amount of references to Charley (not enough for me, anyway). I did like Steinbeck's opinionated, artistic point of view, however. I also agreed with a lot of his opinions about America in the 60's. I think the book could be appreciated more if it were read slowly, to savor all the details, but am not a slow reader and frankly, would not recommend this book to anyone looking for a short-read, or anyone with a limited amount of patience either. However, if you choose to give this book the time it requires to be enjoyable, then you may think otherwise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    Discovering America

    I'm sure that at some point in one's life Steinbeck was a mandated read for any student who found themselves thrown into a high school literature course. Like most, I, too, received the dreaded assignment and begrudgingly cracked open the book, struggling to get through the mind numbing task in an effort to at least gain enough knowledge for the following week's class discussion, or the even more dreaded written book report. Now, decades later, with s few gray hairs and approaching the same age as Mr. Steinbeck when he penned this story, I have made my own choice to return to Steinbeck. In all truth, I chose this book as I believe all visionaries and dreamers like myself have, at least at one time in their life, planned a trip to explore beyond their immediate borders; whether the borders are real or imagined, and whether the trip comes to fruition or only remains in their mind. I also happen to like dogs. :)

    This story, however, is more that simply a journal of a man and his dog on a 3 month trek across the country. Steinbeck paints a picture with his words that you can visualize with such clarity, as if you were a stowaway in his customized van and were personally witness to all that he experienced. He describes places and people that are from a different era than we now know, and yet, these descriptions also hold elements that ring true today. Steinbeck takes you through the sad, scary, laughable, heart-warming and awesome moments with the people and landscapes he met along the way, along with the feelings for a love one left behind and the anxious yearning that we all feel when we've been away from home too long. Steinbeck's vocabulary has a richness and depth that is so singular in style that there is no doubt he rightfully earned his title as one of the Great American Writers.

    DLB2

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2014

    An exceptionally & easy to read book by one of the finest au

    An exceptionally & easy to read book by one of the finest authors America has ever produced.  It is meant for all ages but I often give it to 12 & 13 year olds as it gives them an opportunity to read exceptionally literature rather than almost all of the other things they read in their daily lives.  It is funny & touching.  I completely disagree with the young person who said it was for old people.  It describes things that have been lost in America and gives the reader an opportunity to "live" in a different era, but one we have built upon. The antecedents of today's America.  A fact that is missed or mis-interpreted is Stanford's days at Stanford.  They suggested that he leave Stanford & go out and write before he was ruined by a formal education.   They recognized his excellence as a writer.  One can not go wrong with this lyrical tale of Steinbeck & his Charley.  It was not meant to be factual.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    I remember being in this Clan...

    I think I was named Dove something (I can't even remember the last part of her name!) or something... I've rped in so many Clans as so many cats I've forgotten!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Cna I join?

    A sleek black she-cat pads in, green eyes looking for the leader. "Hello I am Shadeleaf. Can I join?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    Wavepaw

    (Omg! I couldn't find you guys!!!!!!! I'm back now.)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Purplepatch

    Pads in. "Hi, I'm Purplepatch. I would like to join." She looks around and then waits for a cat to reply to her.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    FernScar

    Looked around

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Luckpaw

    "So freakeh. May I join?" She mewls.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    Left. Too inactive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Dragonwing and co.

    Or nah....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    Can I join?

    Your ad said you guys needed a leader. Can I be it?
    Feather

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    Firebird

    Poko what da heck is going on here. Firebird

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    Poko

    This is what is known as a dead Clan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Wonderful

    This is one of my favorites books. If you are a traveler at heart you will be able to relate to the feelings of being out on the road.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    I read this book in school and ended up liking it a lot. Steinbe

    I read this book in school and ended up liking it a lot. Steinbeck surprises me with his interesting encounters in a journey across America, an impressive cornerstone of literature.

    I would recommend this product along with Eighteen In Cross-country Odyssey by Benjamin Anderson, a tale about an eighteen-year-old’s journey across the United States between his high school and college careers, fraught with quirky encounters and beautiful scenery. Make sure not to miss either book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Great!!

    Another of Steinbeck's amazing writings!

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