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Travels with Charley: In Search of America

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  60,713 ratings  ·  4,510 reviews
A quest across America, from the northernmost tip of Maine to California’s Monterey Peninsula

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodl
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Paperback, 214 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Penguin (first published 1962)
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Merimee Moffitt Charley and Steinbeck are traveling. They survive and head for home. The language is pure Steinbeck genius, one of the most beautifully written books…moreCharley and Steinbeck are traveling. They survive and head for home. The language is pure Steinbeck genius, one of the most beautifully written books ever.(less)
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4.08  · 
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 ·  60,713 ratings  ·  4,510 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 10, 2014 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
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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
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Lori
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
I usually enjoy fiction, but a mite cheated when I learn that a travelogue isn't. I'm sure some people enjoy the writing regardless of the misleading content. Steinbeck never went to some of the places in the book, he made up the folks that he never met and the hotels and resorts he and his wife stayed in are a bit more luxurious than the camper top on his GMC pick-up.

On the plus side, he did purchase a pick-up truck and add a camper top to it. His wife did have a poodle named Charley.

Will Byrnes
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Diane
Aug 14, 2007 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
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Kim
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, travel

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
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Cheri
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My father bought me this book when I was probably about eight years old, and I read it quickly and fell in love with it. One day (now that I've thought of it, probably sooner than later) I'll reread it, but for now I'm content believing I would still find it a good read.

Jason Koivu
Sep 22, 2010 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
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J.L.   Sutton
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
In Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck provides an entertaining and wry account of his observations as he road trips with his poodle in what essentially becomes his house on wheels, Rocinante. I'm a big fan of Steinbeck's work (I really like what I see as his sympathetic treatment of quirky and damaged characters in novels like Cannery Row and Tortilla Flats). I also remember enjoying Travels with Charley (at least the few chapters of it which I read while I was in high sc ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sara
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice way to travel 1960s America again is to hop into a camper truck with John Steinbeck and his dog, Charley. Plagued by a chronic disease and probably feeling like it was now or never, Mr. Steinbeck hit the road from his home in Sag Harbor and traveled across the states and back again, making astute observations as he went and sharing a bit of the flavor of America in this moment of great upheaval and change.

I was afraid this might be boring, like watching someone else’s home movies (no mat
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Grip Dellabonte
May 31, 2008 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
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read the Steinbeck trifecta in junior high and highschool - The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. Since that time, graduating 20 years ago, I have not read Steinbeck again. I bought this book to read on a train trip I had planned in California, since I knew that Steinbeck's father was a train man and that he grew up in California. Since that trip was cancelled the book has lingered on my shelf at home, long enough for me to forget I had it. So when the audio version of the bo ...more
Maciek
Feb 28, 2013 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
Joe Valdez
Jan 28, 2014 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
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Chicklit
Mar 02, 2008 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
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Barbara
Feb 10, 2015 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
Julie
I came across this dusty hardcover at an estate sale last month. This particular edition from 1962 offered a crisp, weathered cover and an inviting sketch of a man, a dog and a truck.

I hopped on board.

This is Steinbeck, but not the Steinbeck of fiction, the one who stands behind his creations and his delicious use of silence and space. This is Steinbeck the man.

Turns out that Steinbeck the man, here recorded for all time, in his late fifties was a bit depressed, recently diagnosed as being on hi
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Mike
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, memoir, reviewed
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch, When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.
I liked the idea that inspired this book: John Steinbeck, great American writer, decides to set off on a cross country exploration of America, a country he became
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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:

Carol
Jan 13, 2013 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

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Sarah
Mar 18, 2012 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
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Luís C.
When I chose this title of Steinbeck to the bookstore, I did not knew exactly what I expect, not knowing the title. But I imagined a journey across a large part of United States, many meetings and a kind of report on the 1960's America. Somewhat a journalist's book. In fact over the eleven weeks Steinbeck toured the USA. If there are meetings, often over a bottle, they do not learn much about the region in which they take place. Except perhaps in the South. Let us recall that he'd voyaged in 196 ...more
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How often I have wished to do this: just get on the road and head off for destinations unknown. Searching for America John Steinbeck also finds out more about himself - via the intersection of "Examined Life" avenue and "Socratic" lane.
Seana
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Man, this book came so exactly at the right time in my life. I think I was about thirteen or fourteen. I went back to the ancestral home in Illinois, and my cousins were getting rid of some books. One of them was Travels With Charley. I read it while we were driving back home. I think I made my family's life a living hell by comparing them constantly to Steinbeck and Charlie's trip across the country. Oh, well. Sometimes the families of readers have to suffer.
Chrissie
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, bio, travel, usa
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
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Roy Lotz
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
In literary criticism the critic has no choice but to make over the victim of his attention into something the size and shape of himself.

This little volume must rank as one of the great American travel books—though I am not quite sure what that means. Travel literature, by its nature, finds itself in a paradoxical position: to search for truth by becoming briefly acquainted with a wide and disconnected series of experiences. Steinbeck addresses this in his opening salvo: “So it was I decided t
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piperitapitta
Gli Stati Uniti [non] sono uno stato mentale

Ha quasi sessant'anni, John Steinbeck, quando decide di viaggiare attraverso gli Stati Uniti in lungo e in largo, da costa a costa, da Nord a Sud, da Est a Ovest, a bordo di Ronzinante, la casa-mobile approntata per l'occasione, e in compagnia di Charley, il suo cane barbone piuttosto attempato e malato di prostatite.
Perché si accorge, dopo essere stato per decenni la voce dell'America, di non conoscere più il suo paese, di (de)scriverlo ormai da tempo
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Blixen
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
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Judy
Nov 29, 2011 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:
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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
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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 1634 likes
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.” 1404 likes
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