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Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  76 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 inspiration, y ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1989)
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Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 bouts
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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

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 jud
M. Sarki
Jul 09, 2014 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.

This journal is one of the best literary
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Kristi Duarte
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!! Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite books ever, its language is so perfect, and as an author I aspire to reach that level (good luck with that, right?). Reading this book should be a must for any author, because it's so helpful to read that even geniuses doubt their talents, get tired of writing in the middle of a project, take more days than necessary off, etc. I recognized myself so much in his journal notes that I have recommended this book to everyone in my writer's gro ...more
Nicky Penttila
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 th
Twila Newey
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I coupled this with my reading of The Grapes of Wrath, which was fascinating and supports my theory that something prophetic was going on with Steinbeck. There was a drive to write the book, to make it visceral and real, to preach his sermon on the greatness and failure of America as an ideal. Here is what stuck out for me:
1. one day at a time, 2 pages a day
2. the over all sweep and separate movements of the book all existed in Stienbeck's mind prior to writing
3. the way he oft
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 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love reading people's journals and I love John Steinbeck, so that explains the four stars. I hate that people can't or won't talk about the struggles they go through much of the time -- I know it can be depressing or considered selfish, but it's so alienating to feel something inside and see no traces of it in others. It's particularly fascinating to see inside the mind of someone who went on to become a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author, and to discover he is just as unsettled, petty, w ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Tyler Weaver
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Five stars for the diaries, three for the editor's commentary.
Devin Murphy
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a really fascinating book as it reveals how down on himself he was during the writing of his masterpiece. It showed me the nature of all artistic endeavors being married to self-doubt.
Margaret Madden
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
His wonderful to have access to the inner thoughts, and insecurities, of one of the most talented writers of the 20thC...
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For writers, this book is REALLY good.

Steinbeck wrote this journal alongside his writing of The Grapes of Wrath. He used the journal as way of keeping himself honest. He required of himself that he write almost daily, around 2,000 words per day. He had already written "Of Mice and Men" and "Tortilla Flats" without the journal concept, and maybe he developed this journal idea as a way to start his writing every day, but also as a way to keep track of the time he began working each day
Alan Gerstle
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ever wish you could enter the psyche of a writer while he/she was writing a novel and buzz around the brain and see what is really going on? Now through the miracle of Steinbeck's notebook (written coevally with Grapes of Wrath) you don't have to miniaturize yourself like i fantastic voyage. Instead of having to go inside, Steinbeck has done you the favor of kicking all his concerns, fears, worries, schedules, etc. Out the brain's doorway. Like a person with his possessions strewn on the front l ...more
Joe Chan
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one is a strange one to rate: as the title says, it's John Steinbeck's journal entries from when he was writing The Grapes of Wrath, with a bit of historical context added by the editor, Robert DeMott. Having not read Grapes yet, I still enjoyed reading the entries and seeing how difficult Steinbeck's process was, and in a lot of ways it was comforting to see that even he struggled with impostor syndrome.

That being said, it IS primarily his journal entries, which is to say that it's
Stanley Turner
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting book, which is really the diary of John Steinbeck while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. I enjoyed reading the diary portions of the work. I gave four stars as I thought the introduction was quite long. Some of the introduction was pertinent to the rest of the work and some could have been left out without harming the work. Overall I enjoyed this work and recommend it to all interested in writing or writers...SLT
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, nonfiction
Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath
This is the journal or diary that Steinbeck kept while he was writing The Grapes of Wrath. Much, even most, of the book is written by its editor. About 100 journal entries are daily thoughts, bits and pieces, sentence fragments, about the writing and other things that were going on in the Steinbeck's life at the time. After The Grapes of Wrath was published, and after a hiatus, he resumed writing in the journal. The entries were sporadic over a peri
Richard Canale
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
If you watch The Walking Dead, you often get caught up in The Talking Dead. Huge fans of the show seek out a deeper connection to its background and characters.
I suppose I was looking for the same thing here. I remain a huge Steinbeck fan. I came away feeling like an interloper who had no right to read the diary of a man who relished his privacy.
Hanna Abi Akl
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exciting, soul-wrenching narration of one of American literature's brilliant minds. This book is an account of the thought process that carries over with every literary work. The fact that it is written in Steinbeck's unique style makes it an even more powerful read.
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
interesting to see the process, but this is by no means a fulsome self-reported account. You feel some of his inner anguish and struggles, but much of it enigmatically. In some ways, Steinbeck leaves us with more mystery than transparency.
Marciano Flores
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A truly amazing tale of how this iconic author wrote a book for the ages!
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the introduction, which discussed the circumstances of how Steinbeck came to write The Grapes of Wrath. The notes themselves were rather uninteresting and often repetitive, however.
Fran Cormack
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great insight into the mind of Steinbeck, as he wrote one of the world's all time classics.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it, as Steinbeck fan.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This was interesting in seeing the craft of Steinbeck's writing.
Aaron Arnold
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Tyson Call
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 this book, one must have interest
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Steinbeck fans: Working Days 1 13 Sep 01, 2018 07:41PM  

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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 Sal