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Travels With Charley: In Search of America

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  77,077 ratings  ·  5,502 reviews
To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the tress, 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 poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters b ...more
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published January 31st 1980 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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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  77,077 ratings  ·  5,502 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 dec
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
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

4 to 4.5 stars

It seems like lately I have been reading a lot of books about road trips. This is just fine with me as I love the open road! Getting some perspective on others' experiences on the highway combines road trips with my other favorite hobby . . . reading, of course!

Travels With Charlie is mid 20th century America in the words of one of the most American authors that ever was. Just a truck, a dog, and the open road. It is poetic and beautiful. It is dark and mysterious. It funny and inf
Loved it! A favorite of the year. For years I wanted to read this one. Always interested in hearing about people and their travels. But to be honest, wasn't sure I was a Steinbeck fan. Read his big ones earlier and just kinda eh, not my thing. I got this one a few times for the library and would return thinking he's probably not for me. But something this time pushed me and I started in still being a naysayer (not for me) but I was soon sucked into the story and just didn't want it to end.

In the
Elyse  Walters
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook.... narrated by the wonderful Gary Sinise

Wow!!!! Okay..... I am fully satisfied!!!!!
This book calmed the anxiousness of my mind, and really moved me!

While listening to Gary Sinise read John Steinbeck’s book...(Gary’s voice was a perfect match for Steinbeck),
I was aware of how grateful this ‘book-companion’, was warming my heart....
[thanks to our Public library/overdrive].
It was just what I needed!

Steinbeck’s cross-country-road-trip-companion—[his loyal-French-immigrant- poodle] was
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
Will Byrnes
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
J.L.   Sutton
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
Susan Budd
The United States is more divided than ever and I wonder how we will survive this national crisis. We are red or blue. Trump or Biden. Fox News or The New York Times. We tear down Confederate statues or wave the rebel flag.

Have we nothing in common? Do we share no hopes and dreams? Have talking points completely replaced dialogue? Do we even speak the same language?

Enter Rocinante. Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie has the three things all Americans love: freedom, the open road, and a dog. Ther
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
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
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: nobel, travel, 501, memoirs
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
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early into my reading of Travels with Charley, I stopped to fix the point in time John traversed our country with a dog by his side. Published in 1962. It's not that the time of writing truly matters, or changes the nature of what is told. A town and a city will change in appearance or size (as Steinbeck would encounter as he enters into his birthplace of Salinas, CA). Demographics definitely change as people move or wander – also something duly noted here during his travels: Like the total stra ...more
Grip Dellabonte
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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

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
Sharing Anecdotes with Steinbeck

Steinbeck has been one of my favorite authors beginning in the 1970s, but even before that, because when I was a child I had read “The Red Pony.” I read most of “Travels with Charley
ie” years ago, but I left it on a table somewhere when I was traveling and didn’t pick it up again in order to finish it until now. And now there is some controversy about its being fiction or non-fiction. I don’t care one way or another except to say that he could have made up better
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
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 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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:

Jon Nakapalau
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2014 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
Tom Quinn
Steinbeck was 35 when he wrote Of Mice and Men (one of my favorite novels). He was 58 when he took the trip recounted in Travels with Charley. Just a man and his dog, out on the road to explore America. It seems a fitting idea for a book from an author who, according to Wikipedia, "frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists." How appropriate for a master of American Realism to go out into the Real America and just sort of s ...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

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