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Travels with Charley: In Search of America

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  44,615 Ratings  ·  3,168 Reviews
An intimate journey across and in search of America, as told by one of its most beloved writers, in a deluxe centennial edition

In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure
Paperback, 214 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Penguin (first published 1962)
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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
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 15, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any HERE. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”

 photo 29095a40-91bf-4933-b339-aefea996521b_zps0be83509.jpg
The steed...Rocinante!

John Steinbeck was not feeling very well before he decide
Will Byrnes
Sep 23, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
John Steinbeck put a house on a pickup, left the wife behind in their Long Island home and traveled the nation for several months. This is his tale of that experience. I found many quotables here, and I guess one should expect that when the traveler’s name is Steinbeck. In a book of about two hundred pages, one can hardly expect a detailed look at all of America. Steinbeck picks his spots. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. It was, of necessity, merely a sketch of some parts of the country. But ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, audiobook

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
Jason Koivu
Jun 21, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 22, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Memoirs)
Shelves: 501, memoirs, nobel, travel
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 it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 24, 2008 Chicklit rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2013 Maciek rated it really liked it
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
Mar 21, 2013 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, usa, travel, audible
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
Feb 11, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  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:
Jul 05, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
Filled by a desire to see his country one more time, John Steinbeck has a truck modified to be a camper. Named Rocinante, after Don Quixote's horse, and equipping it with guns, books and other essential items, not forgetting Charley his dog, he sets off on his journey.

His 10,000 mile journey takes him on a circular route around the country, starting in the north east, he travels across to the Pacific, down to California, along to Texas and the deep south and back up to New York. On his trip he w
Joe Valdez
Sep 28, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
My dip into the fiction of John Steinbeck turned into a journey, with East of Eden, Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Grapes of Wrath and Sweet Thursday. It seemed appropriate to end my tour on Travels with Charley, the author's memoir of a circuitous road trip of the United States he began in September 1960 with his French poodle, Charley.

Steinbeck's account begins at his home on Long Island, New York. Getting on in years, he realizes he's been writing about a count
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:

Jul 17, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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


That’s it. Goal Met. Challenge conquered. I do not need to read any other book this year. I am satiated.

You know how I have that groupie mentality? Yeah, well… Ilovejohnsteinbecksomuchit’skillingme.

“It happened to so many of my friends. The lecture ends, “Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.” And I had seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi
Luís Miguel
Sep 04, 2014 Luís Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change.”

Sou parcial quanto a praticamente tudo o que se pode ler neste livro: Steinbeck, América, viagens, cães, cidades pequenas, estradas intermináveis, carros, conversas com desconhecidos... E podia continuar. Já fiz uma pequena ideia de tudo isso, vivi, respirei e amei o ar puro do Montana, deixando no canto da memória Nova Iorque e tudo mais - tal como Steinbeck o havia feito em 1960. A liberdade daquel
Jenny (adultishbooks)
Nov 25, 2015 Jenny (adultishbooks) rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics2015
3.5 Stars

A slow start but finished strong, this is a wonderful snapshot of America in the 1960s through the eyes of a famous author and his cantankerous dog.

I did mildly lose interest in the beginning and was wondering its focus until it got to the section in California. That's where I really invested in the story and understood its powerful and influence. I wish it was as strong as the last 60-70 pages throughout but it was what it is. I loved what it said about home and change and find its mu
Jan 18, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
I haven't read many travelogues; off-hand I can only think of three prior to this one. Two of those were pleasant enough but unspectacular and the other was so dull I did not finish. But this is Steinbeck! Travelogue by a Nobel Prize winning writer - surely it's got to be good? After all I'm a big fan of his fiction - surely I would like this!

And I did. It's 1962 and Steinbeck has decided he's out of touch with his own country so he's going to go on a road trip in a camper van, taking his dog, C
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
Nov 06, 2015 Cathleen rated it really liked it

Travels with Charley: In Search of America and East of Eden have made me reassess my lukewarm feelings about John Steinbeck’s writing. I’ll make it a point now to read more of his novels. As an adolescent, I read The Pearl, The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. I found them true but deeply depressing, so I had little desire to revisit Steinbeck’s works. It’s not as though I’m averse to somber novels; one of my favorite authors is Thomas Hardy, and I look forward to rereading at
John Steinbeck took a road trip around the United States in the fall of 1960 "to try to rediscover this monster land." He bought a pick-up truck with a camper top, and named it Rocinante (after Don Quixote's horse). Charley, an older large French poodle, was Steinbeck's traveling companion. Charley served as an ice-breaker, making it easier for Steinbeck to meet strangers. Steinbeck had a chronic illness at the time of his trip, and Charley had his own set of veterinary problems, but they offere ...more
Feb 28, 2016 Negin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
The first time that I read anything by John Steinbeck was in high school (“The Pearl”). Although I remember that it was one of my favorite books in my high school literature class, more than thirty years went by before I read anything by him again (probably due to laziness, lack of motivation, or whatever). I read “East of Eden” several months ago, which I loved. “Travels with Charley in Search of America” is the third book I’ve read by him. Let me just say that he was an amazing writer.
In this
Diane D.
I am very partial to John Steinbeck and this book, just like the others I've read, does not disappoint.

This non-fiction 'memoir' of sorts made me laugh (many times) and also delved into some very serious and sensitive subject matter - given that it was a journey across America in the turbulent year of 1960 gives you an idea of what I am talking about. Along lighter lines, imagine buying/renting a self-contained sturdy vehicle, packing it up (overloading it as JS admits, causing a tire blowout w
Dec 02, 2007 Celia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2015 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Although I read this book just last year, it was a delight to read again. I think I was struck by different aspects of the book the second time around. This time I realized just how much time Steinbeck spent describing his experiences of racism in the South. I imagine this caused some waves back in the early 1960's when the book was published, before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. But we should expect nothing less from Steinbeck, the champion of the oppressed, and chronicler of the lives o ...more

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
Feb 06, 2015 Allan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This was one of the first Steinbeck books that I read a number of years ago, and one that I've often recommended to others, so having just listened to the audiobook version as a reread for the Goodreads Ireland monthly read for February, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed the book as much this time as I did on the first occasion.

Steinbeck's decision to explore the America he made a living writing about encouraged him to purchase a custom made camper, 'Rocinante', in which he set out with his poo
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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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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 1275 likes
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” 1197 likes
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