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Working Days: The Journals of the Grapes of Wrath

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  339 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath during an astonishing burst of activity between June and October of 1938. Throughout the time he was creating his greatest work, Steinbeck faithfully kept a journal revealing his arduous journey toward its completion.The journal, like the novel it chronicles, tells a tale of dramatic proportions-of dogged determination and inspirati ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1989)
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Sep 03, 2015 Corinne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read 'The Grapes of Wrath' first when I was a teenager. Recently, I re-read it, along with ‘Working Days: the journal of the Grapes of Wrath’, and I could understand this novel a lot better through the perspective of the author.

For example, I saw why Steinbeck separated the General Chapters from the Specific ones and why he alternated them, what was the role of the rain in the story, and why he built Ma Joad the way he did. I found reading the two books together moved me a lot more than before
Jan 07, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

Steinbeck wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath in an exhausting period of intense creativity from June to October 1938. During that period and for some time thereafter, he kept a journal in which he wrote before he started work each day. Steinbeck set out what he expected to achieve on that day and recorded his hopes, dreams and frustrations. He repeatedly expressed his determination to make the book a good one, but also his fear that it wouldn’t be. Steinbeck reported on b

I found this a very interesting read. I think that all authors, would-be-authors, and readers wondering about the process of creating a novel, would agree with me. Note: Some parts of Steinbeck’s journal entries are slightly repetitious, but each entry is short enough that I found it easy, and not at all distracting, to skim through such passages.

The book begins with a 57 page “Introduction” – lengthy, but with some interesting points to make:

- The Grapes of Wrath has been less judged as a nov
M. Sarki
Jan 27, 2015 M. Sarki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-wonders

The most private of men writes a diary, keeping it current on each day he actually sits down to work on a novel which would become The Grapes of Wrath. Keeping a journal was something John Steinbeck had attempted in the past to no avail. But it is our great fortune that he succeeded at the most important time of his life to practice the discipline that not only earned him great literary rewards but also secured his memory in our American consciousness.

Nicky Penttila
Sep 20, 2015 Nicky Penttila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A writer who talks about his feelings! Doubt, confidence, joy, worry, and the push to keep working as the world collides into him. I've had this book on my shelf for a decade, at least, always intending to re-read The Grapes of Wrath with it but never actually buying that book. Reading it the first time on its own, though, helped me concentrate on the writing process, without the distraction of the novel's tough content.

"I have the laziness and reluctance that is always present in the beginning.
Jan 13, 2010 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no better way to disabuse people of the notion that writing is easy than to hand them this book. Steinbeck fans will appreciate the journal's insights into his personal life, but any reader should come away from this with some sense of the determination and grinding discipline that writing projects demand.
Stephanie Ricker
Anyone who doesn’t think writing is hard work should read this collection, taken from Steinbeck’s daily writing notes. The poor man sweats bullets the whole time and pours blood, sweat, and tears into his manuscript. Even though Steinbeck had quite a few published works by this point, he angsts constantly about how he’s not a real writer, and soon everybody is going to find it out. He alternates between thinking his work is crap and hoping that it’s brilliant. He has to psych himself up to write ...more
Nov 19, 2009 Krys rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did he do it? Steinbeck gave himself 6 months to write Grapes of Wrath (after several years of research), then sat down and penned the whole Pulitzer-winning manuscript in one concentrated burst--in two drafts mind you. How did he begin each day? What was he thinking? What obstacles did he face (plenty) & how did he deal with them? For a writer struggling through a manuscript, this diary is pure inspiration. Even Steinbeck had days when he felt like the world was about to discover what a ...more
Victoria Mixon
Again, Steinbeck's daily record of his struggles to sit down and write his novel is a gift to all writers. Obviously, he worked from a plan he'd previously spent a great deal of time and energy forming, and obviously his manuscript later went through editorial development with his editor and close friend Pat Covici. But the day-to-day professional attitude toward his job, toward the process of his craft---that's something no aspiring writer can ever hear enough about.

It takes a long time to beco
Margaret Madden
Dec 16, 2015 Margaret Madden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His wonderful to have access to the inner thoughts, and insecurities, of one of the most talented writers of the 20thC...
Tyson Call
Apr 09, 2015 Tyson Call rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More about the man himself than the content of his famous novel, Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath offers marvelous insight into the mind of one of America's most famous novelists. John Steinbeck is perhaps the most well known and widely read American author, with the exception of perhaps Ernest Hemingway or Mark Twain; though since his famous work Of Mice and Men is required reading in many classrooms, his work is familiar to many whether they like it or not.

In order to enjoy t
Tyler Weaver
Sep 04, 2015 Tyler Weaver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the diaries, three for the editor's commentary.
Brian Willis
May 24, 2015 Brian Willis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inside look into the mind of a mortal writer as he composes a book that he felt compelled to write. While reading through these pages, we can see the very human failings of Steinbeck's ego (procrastination and self doubt creep into every single page) as well as his compelling creative need to finish a big book that he hoped he would be remembered for. While The Grapes of Wrath was indeed that book, the window into Steinbeck's soul here is that of a book in-the-making, and the tenuous enterpri ...more
Hydar Mohammed
Oct 25, 2014 Hydar Mohammed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very insightful collection of journal entries by John Steinbeck; it gives a very close look into the writing process and how grueling it can be for a writer while working.

Throughout the book, Steinbeck's insecurities and procrastinations manifest; he never felt fully confidant in how The Grapes of Wrath was going to turn out.

I recommend this book to anyone who is either seeking a career as a writer, is a writer, or is interested in learning about the writing process. The amount of hu
Aaron Arnold
I loved The Grapes of Wrath - the margin between it and East of Eden in my mind is vanishingly thin - so I was interested to learn that he kept a diary of his efforts when he was writing it. Actually, make that re-writing - one of many fascinating details I learned was that Steinbeck wrote, polished, and completed an entire novel called "L'Affaire Lettuceberg" that touched on many of the same ideas as The Grapes of Wrath and then, convinced that he hadn't done true justice to his subject, destro ...more
Paul L'Herrou
Sep 13, 2014 Paul L'Herrou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the journal that Steinbeck kept while wring The Grapes of Wrath. He began each writing day by clearing his mind of other concerns and his feelings of not being up to the task and by getting the juices to flow by writing a journal entry. He had the novel all mapped out in his mind, however apparently not outlined, so you follow his development of the details as he slogs his way through, day-by-day. The editor, Robert DeMott gives background and explanations that make it come alive. Anyone ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, steinbeck
This is the journal that Steinbeck kept while writing the first draft of The Grapes of Wrath, from 1938 to 1941. (It starts before he started the novel, and ends after he finished the draft.) The book includes a pretty thorough introduction by the editor and extensive annotations at the end, referred to by asterisks throughout the text. There are some pages in the middle with pictures on them: where he lived when he wrote the novel, pictures of his hand-written manuscript pages, and some typed-u ...more
Some how I missed reading this novel during my school days, but the wait was well worth it. I loved the structure of alternating chapters of "General" and "Particular" of his writing. The "General" chapters laid the scene, using dialogue, description and exposition from various, mostly unnamed sources. These short general chapters described the mood of a place, the struggle of activity, or difficulty that would soon befall the Joads. The "Particular" story of Joads family was detailed, and the m ...more
Would recommend: Yes

I had to speed-read this because I was unaware that I couldn't renew my library copy, and I will still have to pay an overdue fee, not that I am still kicking myself over this or anything. I really enjoyed Steinbeck's journal entries, and I wrote down many lines for future reference. My biggest takeaways were that he was incredibly disciplined, even though he kept saying that he was lazy, and he was very insecure, despite having already had enormous success with Of Mice and M
Daniel Silliman
Dec 31, 2015 Daniel Silliman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing documentation of the writing process -- truer than anything else I've read, at least to my experience of the daily fight with myself and self-loathing and word counts.

I actually love this book. I read it devotionally and think I will start again immediately.
Sep 23, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Grapes of Wrath. I read it when I was in high school. However, I will never read it again. This behind the scenes look into an amazing book was well worth the read. Also, I like reading about an author's writing process. I love reading their journals.
Pat Hulsey
I found his daily journal a fascinating read. The "grapes" cost him dearly. One would never know the struggles almost desperation at the end of the writing with out the journal. Added another dimension to the book
"Here is a strange thing-- almost like a secret. You start out putting words down and there are three things -- you, the pen, and the page. Then gradually the three things merge until they are all one and you feel about the page as you do about your arm. Only you love it more than you love your arm." - Steinbeck, from _Working Days_ pg. 121

This is a great read for writers! Steinbeck's journal shows real struggles, triumphs, setbacks, and heartbreaks that he faced as he worked on _The Grapes of W
Apr 22, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling and nerve-wracking tale of the ups and downs of a writer - a good writer. The concept has inspired me.
Sandi Mann
Dec 18, 2014 Sandi Mann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans
excellent insights into JS's frame of mind & domestic situation while writing Grapes of Wrath.
Apr 07, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is comforting to know that even one of the most accomplished writers struggled and doubted his abilities.
Good companion to The Grapes of Wrath
Jan 05, 2016 Kate marked it as to-buy  ·  review of another edition
Mentioned in Brain Pickings
Sep 16, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dec 18, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could and would read Steinbeck's grocery lists if they were published, but unless you fall in that camp, this one is not a must read. Journal of a Novel, the working notes from East of Eden gave a more detailed look at the book and this was more of a work log. I still love any glimpse into Steinbeck's process and it seems unfathomable that he wrote The Grapes of Wrath in 100 days. Truly remarkable.
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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