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7 Little Known Facts About The Grapes of Wrath
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 06, 2015



John Steinbeck won a Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath 75 years ago today. To mark the occasion, we've gathered a few surprising facts about Steinbeck's groundbreaking tale of the Joad family.

1. The book was briefly banned in the Soviet Union.
Despite focusing on a poor family's plight during the Great Depression, Steinbeck's book felt like false propaganda to Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party. The reason? It showed that even the most impoverished American could afford a car.

2. The FBI put Steinbeck under surveillance.
Most authors have detractors; Steinbeck's were just more aggressive than average. In response to vehement criticisms and death threats (as well as the previously mentioned ire of the Soviet Union), Steinbeck had federal agents keeping an eye on him.

3. Steinbeck wasn't very impressed with The Grapes of Wrath.
"It isn't the great book I had hoped it would be," he wrote in his diary. "It's just a run-of-the-mill book."

4. The field notes Steinbeck used for research were supposed to be for someone else's book.
In 1938, Farm Security Administration worker and author Sanora Babb collected stories from displaced migrants with the intention of using them for her own novel. Then her supervisor shared the field reports with Steinbeck. With The Grapes of Wrath's success, Babb's unpublished book, Whose Names Are Unknown, was eclipsed and forgotten. The novel was finally published in 2004, a year before Babb's death.

5.The book title is taken from The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Steinbeck's first wife, Carol, suggested the title, taken from this line: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored."

6. The Grapes of Wrath gave Route 66 its nickname.
The iconic two-lane road that connects Chicago to Los Angeles was first dubbed the "Mother Road" by Steinbeck. "66 is the mother road, the road of flight," he wrote, capturing the sense of hope and redemption families felt as they escaped the Dust Bowl states.

7. Popular rumor claimed the book was published as The Angry Raisins in Japanese.
While ultimately proved false, the rumor spread like wildfire after a New York Times story about Elaine Steinbeck, John Steinbeck's widow, and her travels overseas: "Once in Yokohama and, at sea with Japanese, she asked a book-store owner if he had any books by her favorite author. He thought for a moment, then said, yes, he had The Angry Raisins." Probably just a verbal misfire, but forever immortalized in title translation infamy.

Loved The Grapes of Wrath? Add more Steinbeck classics to your to-read shelf with this Listopia: Books by John Steinbeck.
What We're Reading at Goodreads
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 04, 2015

It's Book Perk time again! Every two months, each member of the Goodreads team gets to choose a book to order. We stacked up a portion of our latest stash in the Secret Garden-themed conference room—note the spectacularly painted wall in bloom—before letting everyone claim their next to-read.

Check out the full list of titles on Listopia! What will you be reading next?


Reign of Reading Recs: Books About Royals from Around the World
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 02, 2015

The world has a new royal! Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed a baby girl Saturday morning, finally ending the #GreatKateWait of 2015. Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is fourth in line to the throne.

In honor of this auspicious day, we've gathered book recommendations for readers with royals on the mind. From the Queen of the Nile to the rebel queen of India, the first Tudor king to the last Emperor of Russia, these are the stories of some of history's most unforgettable rulers.

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Want more royals? Check out these Listopias: Of Kings and Queens and Royal Nonfiction. Which regal book is your favorite?
Show Us Where You Read
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on May 01, 2015



Where do you read? Do you sprawl out in the park? Or do you have a cozy coffee shop with the perfect you-sized reading nook? Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, we want to see the view. We promise we won't get jealous—well, not too jealous—if you're currently reading on vacation, flipping pages on a balmy, sun-soaked beach. (Just take us with you next time, okay? San Francisco can get a little gloomy.)

Send us your photos on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GoodreadswithaView!

16 Empowering Books for Kids
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on April 29, 2015

"Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it," Matilda announced in Roald Dahl's classic children's book. "Be outrageous. Go the whole hog."

Every child should be inspired to go the whole hog. Last week we asked on Facebook and Twitter: What are your favorite empowering books for kids? Today we've got your top picks! How many of these books did you read as a child?

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Don't see your favorite empowering kids' book? Share it with us in the comments!
15 Authors You Wish You Could Have Dinner With
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on April 24, 2015

Trying out a new seafood shack with Hemingway. Trading butterbeer recipes with J.K. Rowling. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually share a meal with your favorite writers? Imagine what you would say. Imagine what you would eat.

Last week we asked you on Facebook and Twitter: If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be? Today we've got your top answers. Did your favorite make the list?

Neil Gaiman
What to read before a dinner with Neil:
American Gods, Neverwhere

Possible menu item:
Laura Moon's Chili

Diana Gabaldon
What to read before a dinner with Diana:
Outlander

Possible menu item:
Scotch Broth

Agatha Christie
What to read before a dinner with Agatha:
And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express

Possible menu item:
Belgian Roast Chicken

Khaled Hosseini
What to read before a dinner with Khaled:
The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns

Possible menu item:
Chopan Kabob

Jane Austen
What to read before a dinner with Jane:
Pride and Prejudice, Emma

Possible menu item:
Rout Cake

Anne Rice
What to read before a dinner with Anne:
Interview with a Vampire, The Queen of the Damned

Possible menu item:
"Blood" Fondue Bar

Ernest Hemingway
What to read before a dinner with Ernest:
The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea,

Possible menu item:
The Old Man and the Sea Cocktail

J.K. Rowling
What to read before a dinner with Rowling:
The Harry Potter Series

Possible menu item:
Hogwarts Letter Cookies

Harper Lee
What to read before a dinner with Harper:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Possible menu item:
Southern Tea Cakes

Douglas Adams
What to read before a dinner with Douglas:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series

Possible menu item:
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Colleen Hoover
What to read before a dinner with Colleen:
Hopeless, Maybe Someday

Possible menu item:
"The Colleen Hoover" Diet Pepsi Cocktail

Stephen King
What to read before a dinner with Stephen:
The Shining, Carrie

Possible menu item:
Carrie Cake

Edgar Allan Poe
What to read before a dinner with Edgar:
The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher

Possible menu item:
Black Bird Pie

J.R.R. Tolkien
What to read before a dinner with Tolkien:
The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

Possible menu item:
Lembas Bread

Terry Pratchett
What to read before a dinner with Terry:
The Color of Magic, Mort

Possible menu item:
Sausage Inna Bun

Is this a dinner party you'd like to attend? Or do you have other authors—and recipes—in mind? If so, tell us in the comments!

10 Book Titles Based on Lines of Poetry
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on April 23, 2015

April is National Poetry Month. The couplets fly, the rhymes collide, and the air is thick with refrains and stanzas, iambic pentameters and hexameters.

Even if you're not a poet, you can find inspiration in verse. Novelists do it all the time. Poems are ripe hunting grounds for writers—and readers!— looking for big ideas and evocative turns of phrase.

To celebrate poems the bookish way, we’ve collected some of the most famous novels with titles taken from lines of poetry. Dig in and get inspired!

Gone with the Wind
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by Margaret Mitchell
"I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind"
From Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae
by Ernest Dowson


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Her Fearful Symmetry
by Audrey Niffenegger

"Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
From The Tyger
by William Blake



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Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"
From The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats


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The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them"
From I Knew a Woman
by Theodore Roethke


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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

"I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core"
From Sympathy
by Paul Laurence Dunbar


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A Handful of Dust
by Evelyn Waugh

"And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
From The Waste Land
by T.S. Elliot


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Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck

"But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley"
From To a Mouse
by Robert Burns


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The Dark Tower Series
by Stephen King

"Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew. "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."
From Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
by Robert Browning

(Which Browning took from Shakespeare's King Lear)


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Let the Great World Spin
by Colum McCann

"Not in vain the distance beacons.
Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down
The ringing grooves of change."
From Locksley Hall
by Alfred Tennyson


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Far From the Madding Crowd
by Thomas Hardy

"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way."
From Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
by Thomas Gray


There are many more books titles inspired by lines from poetry—and even more from plays. Check them all out here! Which one is your favorite?


Have You Read the "It" Books of Spring?
Posted by Jessica Donaghy on April 21, 2015

Not every year has a clear "It" book—the book we all can't stop talking about, the book that's passed around, devoured quickly, and debated gleefully. For 2015, there's a surprisingly clear winner...so far! Debut novelist Paula Hawkins is living every first-time writer's dream. Her twisty, creepy mystery, The Girl on the Train, published in January 2015, might be "the fastest selling hardcover adult novel ever."


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Goodreads members have boarded the train!

In just three months, The Girl on the Train has been rated on Goodreads a whopping 122,470 times. Compare that to last year's "It" books, We Were Liars and All the Light We Cannot See, which have 114,099 ratings and 111,127 ratings respectively.

And momentum is still building:

  • Total readers who have added The Girl on the Train to their want-to-read shelf: 133,692
  • Average number of people rating or adding the book every day: 3,300
  • And it's the number 1 most-searched-for book on Goodreads since January!

What are this year's other "It" book contenders? In search of the magic formula, we looked at the most popular 2015 books of spring in several genres. Below, check out some books that are already trending as well as soon-to-be published books that are just beginning to sizzle.

Which books are you most excited to read?

FICTION
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NONFICTION
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YOUNG ADULT FICTION
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MYSTERY & THRILLER
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FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
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HISTORICAL FICTION
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ROMANCE
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20 Favorite Pick-Me-Up Books
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on April 17, 2015

The right book can chase away even the gloomiest moods. In the company of cheerful characters and playful prose, worries slip away and anxiety fades. Everyone should have at least one pick-me-up book. Last week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What's yours?

Today we've got some of your top answers, from laugh-out-loud capers to heartwarming stories of friendship and romance. If your favorite didn't make the list, share it with us in the comments!

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Keep on smiling with these cheerful Listopias: Popular Uplifting Books and Books That Make You Laugh.
Audiobook Lovers Listen Up! Audio Samples Now on Goodreads
Posted by Abhinav Athreya on April 20, 2015

Do you love listening to audiobooks? Now it’s even easier to choose your next audiobook thanks to the new Goodreads "Listen" feature, which will be rolled out in the coming days. We've added free audio samples for 180,000 Audible titles to the Goodreads website, where they're available to all of our members.

The new Listen feature is easy to use. Simply look for the Listen icon on the Goodreads book page.


Click on the Listen icon and the audio sample will start to play. You can listen, pause, and resume the sample. There is no need for any special software – the sample will play within your browser.

If you like what you hear, you can add the title to your “Want to Read” shelf. For Goodreads members in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, or Australia who are not yet Audible members, you can take advantage of their free trial! Once you click on the Listen icon, you will see a link to the trial. Sign up and you’ll receive two free audiobooks plus a 30-day free trial of Audible.

The new Listen feature is only available on the Goodreads.com website on your computer or laptop. It is not yet accessible via mobile web or our apps. But as always, we’re working on getting to that as soon as we can!

Happy listening!




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