Travels with Charley: In Search of America
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Travels with Charley: In Search of America

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  33,385 ratings  ·  2,431 reviews
When he was sixty years old, John Steinbeck set out "in search of America." He was accompanied by Charley, a French poodle, and he traveled in a truck named for Don Quixote's horse, Rocinante. From coast to coast and back again, here is the country that Steinbeck, Charley, and Rocinante found...
Paperback, 277 pages
Published January 31st 1980 by Penguin Books (first published 1962)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
dude, steinbeck is so much better than kerouac.

and i know that is a totally obvious statement, but if i want to read a story about a man traveling across america and describing his findings, it is going to be a man with a varied vocabulary, a keen eye for detail, and some powers of interpreting his experiences. john, i am listening...

this is my first nonfiction from steinbeck, and i am impressed with how conversational it reads. he has a real skill in making his experiences near-visible to the r...more
Kim

In 1960, when John Steinbeck was 58 years old, ill with the heart disease which was to kill him eight years later and rather discontented with life, he decided to embark on a road trip around the United States in a fitted-out pick-up truck, accompanied by his standard French poodle, Charley. Steinbeck’s plan was to re-connect with the America which had informed his fiction and to assess how much it had changed over the years.

This book is the result of that trip: part memoir, part travelogue, pa...more
Diane
I first read this book in high school, and it's what made me fall in love with travelogues. In 1960, John Steinbeck drove a small camper around the United States with his dog, Charley. He wrote that he wanted to get to know his country again, to learn more about this "new America."

"For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world. In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago, or San Francisco. But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England. Thus I disco...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 22, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Memoirs)
Shelves: travel, memoirs, nobel, 501
Six years before he died, John Steinbeck (1902-1968) had a lonesome trip aboard a camper named Rocinante (after Don Quixote’s horse) around the USA. He said that he would like to see this country on a personal level before he died as he made a good living writing about it. Considering his heart condition, such trip alone could have been disastrous to his health but he insisted. The main question that he would like to be answered was “What are Americans like today?” and after travelling with his...more
Grip Dellabonte
May 31, 2008 Grip Dellabonte rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy Steinbeck, travelogues, standard size poodles!
Recommended to Grip by: No one recommended this book to me
I hadn't expected to enjoy this book as much as I did. It was my first travelogue, and I only read it because, a) I was bored and b)I figured I couldn't go wrong with Steinbeck - a writer I already enjoyed reading (still do).

But I have a wicked streak of wanderlust in me, too, and Steinbeck really caught me at a good time. It was Summertime, and I was already in a daydream-y mood. That mood lasted all through the book.

I managed to get through the whole trip with the cranky writer, and he was act...more
Jason Koivu
Goddamn it! I've driven coast to coast across the U.S. fives times already and yet, thanks to Travels with Charley I'm ready to go again!

During the mid-century period, discovering America and/or oneself through the medium of the road-trip came into vogue. While other prominent authors, such as Kerouac and Thompson, were publishing their own, more heralded versions, I prefer Steinbeck's. It lacks the hedonism of the others and I love him for that. And furthermore, these journals often get offtrac...more
Chicklit
Mar 24, 2008 Chicklit rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't like "classics"
Recommended to Chicklit by: book group
I have a feeling that if I had read Travels with Charley back in high school instead of The Grapes of Wrath or even Of Mice and Men, I would have actually liked Steinbeck rather than merely appreciated him.

Part of my Steinbeck indifference was obviously influenced by my teenage attitude. At 15 there were other things I'd much rather have been doing than reading novels about the great depression. Also, I had that "what does this have to do with me" attitude I saw so frequently while trying to tea...more
Sarah
You know how the heroes of westerns and comic books and adventures are always good men? My dad likes that kind of story where the moral is, "nothing is better than a good man!" He is the type that thinks a "man" just lives the best way he can! He loves legends and spooky tales and always made himself the hero. He told us, my friends and me, that he once saved his whole platoon by jumping on a grenade, and we believed him, though he never served in the military.

So how can I not give five stars t...more
Maciek
Eight years before a lifelong smoking habit finally killed his heart, John Steinbeck embarked on one last road trip across the United States. Steinbeck desired to see the country he described all his life with his own eyes - "to look again, rediscover this monster land", become reacquainted with its people. His sole companion would be Charley, a French standard poodle. Together they would board the Rocinante - Steinbeck's truck named after the horse of Don Quixote - and go and try to understand...more
Chrissie
Gosh, there are so many good reviews here to read, why should I add my two cents?

While I was reading it, I found it interesting, insightful, humorous and sad. Now that is a wide range of emotions captured in a small book.

A question that always arises is: how much of this is true and how much is imagined? There is a simple answer to this. Steinbeck points out that no two people will see the same event with the same eyes. What you see depends upon who you are. This is what Steinbeck saw and expe...more
Judy
Feb 11, 2012 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Buddy Read with Mikki
I read this as a buddy read with my friend, Mikki, and from the first fffft from Charley to Steinbeck's final wrong turn in his home town, no less, Steinbeck kept me cruising through his memoir of traveling 1960's America.

What can I say? I'll admit to an hesitancy to pick up Travels With Charley: In Search of America, it being non-fiction and my Steinbeck reading record being at 3 books read, 3 books loved, after all, a disappointment could be over the horizon. To my joy, Travels With Charley:...more
Vale
Dopo anni di lotta scopriamo che non siamo noi a fare il viaggio; è il viaggio che "fa" noi.

Nel 1961 John Steinbeck decide di compiere un viaggio attraverso gli Stati Uniti perché ritiene di essersi allontanato dalle persone, dagli americani e uno scrittore questo, non se lo può permettere.
E' un libro per gli irrequieti, gli amanti di Chatwin e di Kerouac e per tutti gli animi vagabondi:

Vedevo nei loro occhi qualche cosa che avrei rivisto tante volte in ogni parte del paese... un desiderio roven...more
Carol
REALLY enjoyed this eventful journey thru 40 States with Mr. Steinbeck and his dog Charley. The adventure begins in September 1960 with Hurricane Donna before he even leaves home and ends with a historic snowstorm, but everything in the middle is pretty darn good too!

The story is written with humor, but with a profound sadness to it (perhaps due to Mr. Steinbeck's declining health) and whether the novel is truly fact or just fiction is unimportant to me as I found it an insightful and entertaini

...more
Christopher
What is there not to love about a travelogue featuring John Steinbeck and his French poodle Charley? Look at them, they're best friends:



And check out the awesome Rocinante (named after Don Quixote's horse), a custom-made camper truck that carried them around America:



This is the route they took that I'd love to retrace someday:

CELIA
Dec 02, 2007 CELIA rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who liked Fast Food Nation
Really loved this book. It's basically Steinbeck's cross-country musings about his travels with his big poodle, Charley. What I loved about it was that it lacks Steinbeck's usual heavy-handed doom and gloom. It's not lighthearted, just thoughtful. It's interesting to see how the US was becoming what it is now, McDonaldland. There's a really great section where he describes the growth of cookie-cutter hotel rooms. In the South, he speeds by someone who mistakes his big black poodle for a black p...more
Marnie

At 58, John Steinbeck has been told by his doctor to "slow down" which to him meant the onset of a slow decline. In response he decides to gather his poodle, Charley, and go on a road trip across the United States. Seeing the U.S., in 1960, through Steinbeck's eyes was a delight and an image of a world long gone. I don't think you could embark on such a trip now, in 2014, where people are leery of strangers. I think that's part of the magic of this book- it is filled with nostalgia.

I am a fan of...more
Rob
First up 'The Grapes of Wrath' had a profound affect on me as an impressionable 13 year old. I therefore have a type of reverence for Steinbeck that I find a little hard to shake. I love the way he looks at the world. There is a lot of respect for humanity in his writing. This respect for us humans in all of our weakness, goodness and strangeness came through in this book.
Maybe this is not great book and maybe authors only have a few great books in them or their powers decline as they age but i...more
Barbara
I am now 'officially' a Steinbeck fan. This is only the second book I've read by him, and this is non-fiction. Steinbeck was 60 years old when he went on the road with his standard poodle Charlie to drive across the U.S. He lived at the tip of Long Island NY and drove north first to Maine. I loved his description of New Englanders, their reserve and tendency to be taciturn. He worried in 1960 about the disappearance of the unique way of speaking on Deer Isle, Maine. That was 54 years ago, and it...more
Becky
May 09, 2010 Becky rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Becky by: Laura
I admit it, I probably would have never picked this one up on my own, so when it came into my hands, I wasn't sure I'd like it. I think "non-fiction" and I think "dry, boring, insomnia-cure". But boy, was I pleasantly surprised to be wrong about this one! It was not dry or difficult to read or boring at all. On the contrary, it was fun, and entertaining and funny and interesting.

There were parts in which I found myself upset with Steinbeck himself, mainly for his blase attitude about certain th...more
Doneen
Recently our Sunday paper travel section had a list of recommended travel books so that's why I tried this one. Plus I like Steinbeck and think he's pretty funny when he's not writing "Grapes of Wrath" or "Mice and Men." This was written about 1960, when he was older and grumpier. But it's a great take on his ideas about America at that time. There's a quote near the end of the book which really resonated with me.

"In the beginning of this record I tried to explore the nature of journeys...people...more
E.W.
Once in a while you come across a statement, a quote, a quip, from a writer with whom you have only ever read their "fiction" and suddenly you understand why you like their body of work. Such is the case with Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley." Steinbeck writes with perception and precision that plumbs the depths of the American psyche and reveals much, not about America, but about himself, about how he moves through the world or how the world moves around him. Time and again I found myself nodd...more
Laurel

This is John Steinbeck's wonderfully written memoir of his journey across America with his dog, Charley. As one who loves Steinbeck, travel, and travel memoirs -- it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this book.

What did surprise me was Steinbeck's humor. His recollections are full of witty tales about his dog and his encounters with various people they meet along the way. There’s one scene that is quite funny where his dog comes across a bear for the very first time. Normally a quite cowardly...more
Laurele
I was a teenager in 1960 when 58-year-old John Steinbeck, accompanied by his French-born poodle, Charley, took a trip around the United States to see his country one last time. This book is a record of the things that stood out to him. With a novelist's skill, Steinbeck chooses his scenes and his emphases, whether on the taciturnity of New Englanders, the loneliness of the western deserts, or the racial turbulence of the Southeast. Steinbeck's keen, warmly honed observations gave me pleasure in...more
Merilee
What a wonderful book!! I think I must have read this when it first came out in 1960 but don't remember a thing. I think I especially enjoyed it after taking a somewhat similar Travels with Currie this Fall. Despite being 52 years old it still rings fresh and true on this election day...
M. Sarki
Jul 16, 2014 M. Sarki rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to M. by: a person I met on the beach two weeks ago
Enjoyable and unsettling. The first half of the trip was a joy to travel along with Mr. Steinbeck. The last half a pain in the ass and disagreeable as he never skirted from the social issues shoved in his face in 1960. I have read some accounts that prove this book was fiction, but I don't care. I also read that Steinbeck was dying. Again, I do not care. This was a great book, and is still applicable to the times we live in today. But it takes courage and a bit of tolerance to read this accounti...more
Cherie
I listened to this story as an audio book and it was wonderful. I would give this book 10 stars just because listening to Gary Sinise tell it was so musical and soothing. However, it can only earn 5 stars because I really love John Steinbeck's beautiful writing. His discriptions, of places when he tells them could almost transport me there. In a small cafe, at breakfast time in Maine, he discribed the customers "draped over the counter like ferns".

I loved his stories of Charlie, his dog and how...more
Amanda
What can I say about this book? It was one of the best I've ever read.

Among the ideas explored are the nature and purpose of journeys, animal companions (Charley may very well be the best written character I've ever read), and the paradox of Americans in their collective individualism.

Steinbeck travels across the country in 1960 and the memoir is peppered with humor and insight. But the section that gripped me the most was his self-inflicted visit to the South.

"Now I had moved through a galaxy o...more
Adam Floridia
I just adore Steinbeck’s prose in this work. Honestly, that is what makes up for the general lack of content. And I don’t mean that previous sentence to be disparaging, it’s just not what I expected…the journey wasn’t what Steinbeck expected either. I thought there would be almost a state by state index, categorizing the “American” people and their differing habits, beliefs, customs, passions, and foibles. However, it’s not surprising that Steinbeck realizes that defining “American” is nigh impo...more
Trishtator
A quote I really like, as it captures what Steinbeck and I share in our hearts.

For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard or too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not a punishment. I did not want to surrender my fierceness for a small gain in yardage...I knew that ten o...more
Leslie
Sep 12, 2007 Leslie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: reluctant lovers of america
I loved this gentle, open-eyed drive through the US (and a bit of Canada), which Steinbeck made in his later years, after he was famous and settled down comfortably in a house on Long Island. His reason for the trip was that he felt that he'd lost touch with the country which he had become so renowned for knowing and describing. He goes incognito in a pickup truck modified for sleeping one man and one dog. I love the gray French poodle, Charley, especially his adventures in French Canada, where...more
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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
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Cannery Row

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“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” 953 likes
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