Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “East of Eden” as Want to Read:
East of Eden
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

East of Eden

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  361,500 Ratings  ·  15,780 Reviews
In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of A ...more
Paperback, Steinbeck Centennial Edition (US / CAN), 601 pages
Published 2002 by Penguin Books (first published September 1952)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about East of Eden, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Car6l Snyder I don't believe the story is meant to sympathize with sin at all only to bring a greater understanding to the innocence and good intentions that often…moreI don't believe the story is meant to sympathize with sin at all only to bring a greater understanding to the innocence and good intentions that often spawn sin. I also don't believe that the book is making any sort of statement as to who can and cannot judge, only that we have been granted the great and awful task of making all of our own judgement calls. All the mistakes and triumphs we create are our own.(less)
Cobwebsandglitter This is one of my favorite books. The plot is so intricate and the story brilliantly interwoven. Through the very well developed characters different…moreThis is one of my favorite books. The plot is so intricate and the story brilliantly interwoven. Through the very well developed characters different emotions (love, depravity, hatred etc) are explored with direct parallels to the Old Testament. Loved this book. Would never ruin it by watching the movie ;) (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Emily May
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, 2016, favourites
“All great and precious things are lonely.”

Such an amazing book. An instant all time favourite.

I'm sure you've heard of this book. Often touted as one of the "greatest novels of all time" or "books you must read before you die". For some reason, I've been putting it off. Maybe because I was made to study Of Mice and Men to death in school, or maybe because I thought The Grapes of Wrath was a little overrated. But I've been missing out.

A closer look should have told me that. Because I love fami
...more
Frank
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any American lit fan
Shelves: to-reread, favorites
This book is mind blowing. It is John Steinbeck at his sharpest. He said that every author really only has one "book," and that all of his books leading up to East of Eden were just practice--Eden would be his book.

I could write a summary of the book, but it would be more trouble than it's worth. You will often hear it referred to as a "modern retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel" but that is too simplistic. Steinbeck takes the story of Cain and Abel and makes Cain (in the form of Ca
...more
Mary
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Kata
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I want to marry this book and have its babies. I can't remember the last time I felt such a deep sense of satisfaction after finishing a book. Every part of it was a delicious page turning delight. This was pretty close to perfection and it's up there as one of my top ten favorite books.

Steinbeck weaves his tale amongst gorgeously saturated descriptions of the Salinas valley, a truly beautiful part of the country. It's such a sweepingly epic and engrossing read which has everything a wonderful
...more
Laura
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, overrated
I hate this book. Hate. Ponderous, pretentious, melodramatic, self-satisfied, patronizing to its readers, with ultimately nothing to say. Can be summarized thus: a bunch of people with no formal education whatsoever sit around discussing the time they read the Old Testament in Hebrew. They then tell us all how to live. Uh...right. I knew we were in trouble with the unbelievably lame introduction -- some forced, self-congratulatory metaphor about a box, if memory serves -- but it's hard to believ ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Steinbeck's classic East of Eden is a masterpiece and one of his finest books. It tells the history of Steinbeck's own family, the Hamiltons, and that of the Trask family. The epic is set in Steinbeck's native Salinas Valley in California and the beauty of the region is described in endless, passionate detail.
The characters are all beautifully drawn and the story is captivating.

I'll add some quotes here before returning the book to the library, but it was extremely pleasurable to read cover to
...more
Lisa
I have no words to describe what this novel did to my reading self!

It was my first Steinbeck, and it made me fall in love with his writing, his ideas, his cry for individual freedom and social justice. It made me ache for goodness in a world of evil, and it made me respect the power of storytelling to explain the inexplicable difficulties of family life.

It was the first time I felt scared of a fictional character!

I don't think I have ever been so deeply shaken as by Cathy/Kate, and she remain
...more
Dolors
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thou mayest
East of Eden is a uniquely fragmented hotchpotch. A fantastical fable, a retelling of the biblical tale of the original sin, a documented testimony of early settlers in the Salinas Valley through the perspective of three generations, a fictionalized biography of Steinbeck’s own grandfather, a subversive political text, an essay that blends modern philosophy with ancient wisdom.
It’s probable that Steinbeck’s ambitious scope and his need to reach universal meaning might encumber the narration with
...more
Matthew
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very easy for me to rate this book 5 stars. It is amazing. There is so much in it and it is not hard to read. It just tells it like it is and does it so well.

It is like a high priced, high quality buffet with lots of different stations. At each of those stations is a main table with an awesome featured food (thick cut prime rib, chocolate fondue fountain, Mongolian BBQ bowl, etc.). In layman's terms, there is SO MUCH awesome story here with a HUGE payoff every 50 pages or so. I am very satisfied
...more
Huda Yahya


روح الإنسان
الشيء الجميل الفريد في هذا العالم
دائما ما تهاجم ولا تهزم أبدا

لي تاريخ قديم مع شتاينبك
وهو من أوائل من قرأتُ لهم بالإنجليزية

وقد أدمنته على الفور
تستطيع أن تقول أنه فهمني جيدا ففهمته جيدا
وأحببت حقا ما فهمت

هذه هي الرواية الأهم والأشهر
وإن لم تكن الأقرب لقلبي كما هي رواياته العظيمة الأخرى
اللؤلؤة،عناقيد الغضب،ورجال وفئران

;;;;;;;;;;;

جنة عدن
هي المكان الذي تبدأ منه كل الحكايات
كل ما هو قادم وكل ما هو كان
الخطوة الأولى في تاريخ الإنسانية
الخطيئة الأولى
الصراع الأول
"دم أخي لطخ يدي"

شرقي عدن -المكان ال
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
East of Eden, a 1952 novel, was a long, sprawling, sometimes slow but often very intense read. Steinbeck considered it his magnum opus. It begins at the turn of the century in Connecticut, telling about the difficult childhood of Adam Trask and the pains and troubles caused him by his half-brother Charles. Adam meets and marries Cathy Ames, whom he blindly loves, but who is a truly evil, completely self-centered woman at heart.

They move out to the Salinas Valley in California, where they have t
...more
Henry Avila
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Trask was a weak but kind boy , and later man, his father treated him quite badly, even his jealous, sadistic, half- brother, younger but stronger, hit him repeatedly , barely surviving one brutal, vicious fight. Born in the middle of the American Civil War, in a Connecticut farm, he and brother Charles, are turned into good little soldiers, at a very tender age. Cyrus their father lost a leg, in the war, boasting of being in every major battle (which is physically impossible). In fact, the ...more
Kristin
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!!
I am on a golden roll of amazingly fantastic books!! East of Eden by John Steinbeck was our book club pick for this month. I almost didn't read it. You see, it's an old friend...and I ALMOST didn't re-read it... and that would have been tragic.


East of Eden is an epic story about good and evil. It tells the story of two families: the Trasks and the Hamiltons. It spans 3 generations and retells the Biblical story of Cain and Abel set in the Salinas Valley of Northern California.


Perspective...life
...more
Luca Ambrosino
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
English (East of Eden) / Italiano

«The Salinas Valley is in Northern California. It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into Monterey Bay»

"East of Eden" is a powerful novel, thick with biblical reference, in which the characters seem real and not fictional, protagonists of a generational saga about good and evil. About pure hatrded and unconditional love. You will love all the characters of the novel,

...more
Lucy
Aug 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: favorites
I finished this last night and afterwards, I lay back on my pillow extremely satisfied just thinking about it. It's so rare that I read something that delights me from beginning to end. While there were a few turns on the journey that confused me and seemed to take the book in a different direction, his connecting all the characters, the stories and do it with profound meaning is nothing short of brilliant. And to do it through his own person history, and one of the oldest stories of the Bible o ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Alright friends, here's the dealio.

When I read this book, lots of things in my personal life were a hectic. When I finished this book, things were still hectic. I'm writing this now, and things are still a little hectic, but slowly they are leveling out (so no worries.)

The thing is, because of all that hectic, I did not document my thoughts about this book the way I normally would do. I also made the fatal mistake of waiting far too long to sit down & write my review
...more
Carol
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Wow! I just don't know how to express the overwhelming power of this inspirational story! It is one of those novels that really isn't over when you finish reading it as it stays with you inside your head and heart forever. There is so much to ponder: Just a simple question like, "What am I here for?" or to feel the story of Cain and Abel come to life; and gosh, I don't think I will ever forget the meaning of the Hebrew word Timshel (thou mayest) a very important symbol in this book meaning we ha ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this first when I was at university and I loved it.
I read this again now as a 30-year-old avid reader who has become much more critical when it comes to books.
I’m happy to say that while this was a bumpy revisit, “East of Eden” remains one of my favourite books!
This novel is about inheritage and how hard it sometimes is to develop away from your inheritage. What makes you good? What makes you bad? And do some of us contain more of one or the other? Those are some of the questions that C
...more
Samra Yusuf
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Those who are hurt most have the tremendous ability to heal, but what if a bruised heart defies to heal and turns indifferent by the time, what if a hand castoff once never advances again, what if a child lulled fallaciously to sleep never believes in fairies again, what if Cain abandoned God who rejected his sacrifice and preferred Abel over him. God was rejected in exchange and rightly so!

East of Eden might be taken leisurely as the re-telling of biblical tale of original sin, or a family biog
...more
Trish
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
"And now that you don't have to be perfect you can be good."

This book is one of the masterpieces of literature. A story that will stand the test of time, with vivid, unforgettable characters that will haunt you long after you've closed the book. East of Eden is the story of life. It's a story about brotherhood, jealousy, anger, pain, love, evil, sacrifice, redemption. It's one of those books you want to thrust into the hands of your friends, family, neighbors, peers and shout, "Read this, it's g
...more
Jeff
“Timshel”

It’s the Hebrew word meaning “thou mayest” and is the lynch pin concept that this glorious novel swirls around – basically, we as humans have the power to choose our paths in life, whether it’s to be good or evil or somewhere in between.

This isn’t the perfect book, but it’s sort of like a beautiful woman, who has a chip in her front tooth, the imperfection is there to heighten the beauty around it, not detract from it. Steinbeck has arguably never been better; the description (read: i
...more
Elyse
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Madeline
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"I think this is the best-known story in the world because it is everybody's story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul. ...The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt - and that is the story of mankind."

Before this, my only exposure t
...more
umang
Jan 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: loathsome
This is a long, long sermon masquerading as a novel. Its aim seems clear- to be the great American novel. In spite of, or maybe because of this overreach, it is completely unsatisfying. The characters are mere symbols. Most of the themes pertain to the characters’ moral dilemmas, but it is difficult to be drawn into these since the characters lack any real complexity. The men are various superlatives (greatest, kindest, wisest). There are two women characters, one evil and exaggerated to the poi ...more
Kim
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Before he started writing this novel, Steinbeck conceived of it as a gift for his sons. He wrote:
They are little boys now and they will never know what they came from through me, unless I tell them. It is not written for them to read now but when they are grown and the pains and joys have tousled them a little. And if the book is addressed to them, it is for good reason. I want them to know how it was, I want to tell them directly, and perhaps by speaking to them directly I shall speak directly
...more
Dan
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
My first encounter with Steinbeck was The Grapes of Wrath. I didn't enjoy the encounter. Had my first encounter been East of Eden, I most likely would have already read everything else he's written.

This is the the age-old story of the struggle between good and evil, but with an interesting twist. Steinbeck sees the coexistence of good and evil as necessary for the emergence of character or greatness. He lays the responsibility for that emergence squarely on the shoulders of the individual and sh
...more
Ana
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
 photo 215686_zpsx1m8rlfw.gif

One word- EPIC
Celeste
On a side note, this is the 100th book I’ve reviewed this year, and I’m incredibly thankful that such a title fell onto a novel that mattered so much to me.

This was my first fully engaged experience with Steinbeck, and I was completely blown away. His prose was lovely in the way a desert is lovely; sparse but absolutely breathtaking in a certain slant of light. I read The Grapes of Wrath in college, but did so while reading 4 or 5 other classic chunky novels at the same time for various classes,
...more
Parthiban Sekar

There is only one story which, from time immemorial, has been relentlessly reappearing in different forms, faces, and times and that is the never-ending battle between the Good and the Bad, the Gods and the Monsters, the Christ and the Satan, the Angels and the Demons, the crop-farmer and the shepherd, Folly and Wisdom, We and our alter-ego . Not always the Good wins. Not always the Bad loses. A victory gets replaced by a sliding defeat of same height and a defeat by a rising victory of same he
...more
Vanessa
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A masterful and interwoven epic story and a half that takes the reader on a journey of grand proportions. Steinbeck knows how to weave a tale. This novel is rich in symbolism, the biblical references the thread that runs throughout this novel. I don’t know how Steinbeck does it, he gets inside the most intricate parts of the human soul, he knows how to show the human and the beast side. Also that ending got me good. To be honest I don’t even know how to review this book. For me after reading The ...more
Brian Yahn
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Parts of this book are god-like. At different stages in the beginning, middle, and end, I burnt through pages like this was some sort of mystery-thriller, but obviously with all the depth of Steinbeck...

Then there's the characters, which here are some of the best. Cal's struggle--to be good when he's so compelled to be bad--is one of the more interesting ones I've come across. Kate is a perfectly written evil bitch and every time she pops onto the page, you can't wait to see what she'll do next.
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Best Way to Play: A Little Bill Book
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • The Crisis
  • Strenuous Life
  • O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1)
  • Wait Until Spring, Bandini (The Saga of Arthur Bandini, #1)
  • Roughing It
  • How Green Was My Valley
  • The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, and Other Stories
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner
  • Absalom, Absalom!
  • Sometimes a Great Notion
  • 1919 (U.S.A., #2)
  • The Young Man's Guide
  • Main Street
  • Journey to the End of the Night
  • Mother of Pearl
  • The Things They Carried
14,299 followers
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

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Stray City
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • That Kind of Mother
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Weight of Ink
    $10.99 $2.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Take Two (Above the Line, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lisette's List
    $11.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.99
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Send Down the Rain
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • I Want to Show You More: Stories
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Katherine
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Revenge of the Lawn / The Abortion / So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Where We Belong
    $5.99 $1.49
  • Cashelmara
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” 3193 likes
“All great and precious things are lonely.” 3149 likes
More quotes…