The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Grapes of Wrath

Book description

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the…


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Why read it?

9 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’m always shocked at how many must-reads and banned-books lists Steinbeck’s masterpiece shows up on. The term “okie” still rubs some people the wrong way, feeling that stigma their (and even my) grandparents felt at struggling through the Dust Bowl and another wave of agricultural depression in the 1950s. Steinbeck gives a captivating portrayal of the experience living in or leaving Oklahoma, but it’s the interspersed chapters with other perspectives that always linger in my mind, whether the tractor-driver for the factory-farm that sold out his people for $3.00 (thirty silver dimes) or the waitress who lies about candy being…

A staple in high school literature curriculums, The Grapes of Wrath is probably the most-read book depicting the despair and resilience of those who experienced the Great Depression, particularly the Dust Bowl migrants. Of course, the story is beautifully written and haunting. But more than that, it is grounded in Steinbeck’s own experiences as a journalist, traveling alongside migrant workers in California. The resulting articles, published in October of 1936, informed his future writings, including The Grapes of Wrath. Without Steinbeck’s first-hand observations gathered in 1936, I doubt the book would be the masterpiece it instantly became. The final…

I recommend the book because it is uniquely written by John Steinbeck, telling of the terrible depression, troubles, and hardships in the early 1900s in the United States of America. I write about British history and enjoy learning about historical America. This book is educational as well as thought-provoking and entertaining.


John Steinbeck has a way with words that draws you in and keeps you present in his uncomfortable reality. A realistic take on a very significant phase in US history, this might be Steinbeck's greatest achievement. His descriptions and dialogue bring scene after scene to life, until the devastating effect of a nationwide depression overwhelms you with its realism. To this day, he is one of my greatest literary influences.

Coming from poverty, I mean, we were so poor I watched my mother shoplift a package of meat and a can of green beans one time so that we could eat that night, I really appreciated the struggles. I am a sucker for ‘big family’ dramas too and add that I lived in Oklahoma and most of my books were set in Oklahoma, this story had a huge impact on me and my novel. What I didn’t like though was the family’s inability to fight the system. I love a good David and Goliath story!

From Melanie's list on poor vs. rich.

Steinbeck details the journey of the Joad family as they travel from Oklahoma to California looking for a better life. Though written about a family trying to endure the Dust Bowl of the early 1930s, this story was never more relevant than today, reflecting our current trials of the homeless, migrants, and immigrants. Essential reading for everyone.

From Paul's list on for fearless readers.

Overwrought? Yes. Worth reading? Yes. The journey of the Joads, poor, struggling migrants who have nowhere to go, no way to make a life for their family, still resonates. Ma Joad, in particular, is a rich and surprising character. At times it’s a strain to believe some of the characters’ naivete, but Steinbeck’s narrative is deft and evocative, and succeeds in elucidating the humanity and despair at the center of the Dust Bowl. 

A masterwork by John Steinbeck. More Americans are familiar with this novel than Steinbeck’s sprawling East of Eden, and perhaps that’s due to school requirements and the award-winning film by John Ford, but The Grapes of Wrath is a golden chunk of bullion that makes a nice bookend to my first recommendation. Once again, Steinbeck’s knack for creating three-dimensional characters in dire situations is the intense, emotional bait the lures me in. The tragedies and resilience of the Joads offer a poignant glimpse of life amid very hard times, known to history as the Great Depression. And Steinbeck’s masterpiece…

John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is the story of the American West once the excitement of discovery and settlement finally ended. It is a tale of the damage done to the Great Plains, the last frontier, as told through the eyes of the Joads, an Oklahoma farm family forced west to California during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. This book is so memorable because it’s not one story but three. The first describes the beauty of the Great Plains; the second describes the political and economic decisions that harmed the Great Plains; and the third describes…

From Mary's list on the history of the American West.

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