Customer Reviews for

Travels with Charley in Search of America

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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.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2013

    HELP ME

    I am going 2 be in honors english next year and there are 6 books i can choose from and i don't know which 1 2 go with. HELP the books are:
    Dawn by Elie Wiesel
    Travels with Charley by John Steinback
    All Quiet on the Wesrern Front by Erich Maria Remarque
    Roots by Alex Haley
    The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
    Why cant we wait by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
    Plz help i have 2 read 1 before school starts in august....



    Thanks

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    Escaping and Exploring

    Steinbeck had had a dream of getting out of his usual routine and exploring America since he was a boy and he finally did it! He sets off with his French poodle named Charley who is his trusty companion throughout the entire adventure. They go around all of America observing lifestyles and events, talking to many different people, and having fun along the way, even with a few bumps along the road. They return home safely with a lot of knowledge about the world around them.
    At the beginning of the book, Steinbeck talks about wanting to escape and explore everything. As he talks to people on his journey he realizes that this is a common dream among many different Americans. Reading this book made me think about escaping what I know and exploring what is around me. I think that everyone has a little piece inside them that wants the same thing. Travels with Charley lets the reader see what it is like to leave everything for a little while and pursue your dreams. It shows you the joys and the hardships that come with any journey. Not only did this book bring forward some hidden dreams, it also brought up topics about America that are sometimes hard to see from an American perspective. There are amazing things that he and Charley experience. But with that they also observe loneliness and enmity. All of these things I enjoyed about the book. I did not like the main character's attitude toward his journey at certain parts. It became a little bit depressing more than it was educational and enjoyable. Although this was not one of my favorite books, it did make me think. And for that I give Steinbeck's Travels With Charley credit. Overall, I think that this book is worth reading, especially if you are an explorer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2007

    It was okay

    It was fun at times, but it would get off topic for a while and I would almost take a nap. I liked Charley a lot though, he was funny!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2007

    Hmmm... Maybe

    It's okay, but most times it gets totally boring. He totally gets off topic and starts talking about his other experiences. I would like it if it was more about action. However, I really like the dog, Charley!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2006

    Did not get it

    The book was okey but i did not understand so of it it went from one part to something totally different.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2005

    An Okay Read

    While reading Travels With Charley, I was struck by how different the America from Forty years ago is from now. We have become a much more hostile nation. No longer will people invite strangers in for coffee, no longer are we allowed to camp on random people's property. Steinbeck's novel seems rather dated, and I cannot seem to identify with it. It is not a gripping book. Travels with Charley is one of those books which you can put it down at any moment. While not seeming all that interesting, it does have its high points. I was on stitches during Charley's incidents with the giant Sequioas, and angered greatly by Steinbeck's portrayals of extreme rascism in New Orleans. All in all, it is an okay book, perfect for a day in which you have nothing better to do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2002

    Spending too much time with a dog?

    Dogs are great companions but they have their limitations - namely the present. I know Steinbeck is tongue-in-cheek in some places, such as when he has a conversation with Charley, but it's not clear when he is and when he's not. I suspect it wasn't clear to him either. Some examples: "Charley was torn three ways - with anger at me for leaving him, with gladness at the sight of Rocinante, and with pure pride in his appearance." "I saw the look of veiled contempt in Charliey's eyes." "...trying to make himself look small." This is not to say he doesn't hit the nail on the head in quite a few places, e.g. how Charley gets him up in the morning. There have been days when I open my eyes in the morning and the first thing I see is a black nose two inches from my nose! I didn't find Steinbeck's human interactions paticularly interesting so if you're not interested in dogs, don't bother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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