I guess you could call this a book review. Or something.

With nothing else to read and being the antisocial recluse that I am, I picked up Travels with Charley from my bookshelf last week and started reading it again. I remember disliking it the first time I read it, and I guess I thought maybe I’d have a new perspective this time around. The fact is, I still don’t like it.

I think John Steinbeck comes off as a pompous, old-fashioned, know-it-all asshole, particularly when he goes into his tangents about how he doesn’t really know anything about anything. Dude. If you don’t KNOW anything, then why are you writing a BOOK about it like I have nothing better to do than read a book with no conclusion except that there are no conclusions?

I think also that if John and I were to somehow meet and discuss this book, we would end up in a fistfight. I mean, I know the book is dated and his opinions are his opinions and all, but there are some places where if I could have reached into Rocinante and slapped him, I would have. I’ve read other accounts of cross country travel and the discovery of “America,” however that might be defined, and the authors are not nearly as selective or closed-minded as Steinbeck is in his discoveries. I mean, discluding Disneyland and Yellowstone National Park from consideration because they don’t represent American-ness? Are we talking about the same America, here?

If I was to say what the perfect cross-country “discovering America” novel was, I would have to say, hands-down, it’s On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I can read that book a thousand times and it never ceases to awe me. I also love Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon. But I think my next travel book is going to be A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’ve not read it but the recommendations are high so I’m going for it. I’ve got just three weeks left until school starts again, so let’s get it started.

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3 responses to “I guess you could call this a book review. Or something.

  • Chris

    A Walk in the Woods is fun, but certainly not an adequate representation of the typical AT hiker/ experience. Bryson has a number of other books that I’ve also enjoyed.

  • fiction dept

    I really enjoyed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson but it loses its way, so to speak, about two-thirds of the way through. However, I also really enjoyed Travels with Charley by Steinbeck when I read it back in 1994. In fact, it was that book that lit the spark for me to go travelling. Immediately after reading it, I decided that I was going to either sell everything, buy a motorcycle and travel around North America for 4-6 months or go to New Zealand.

    14 years later, I can’t recall anything concrete about Travels with Charley. I only know that it was instrumental with me going off on my own adventure.

    If you’re interested, I have a list of suggested reading books that I’ve been compiling for two years. As a result, nearly every book I’ve read has been great. Happy to share my list if you’d like to see it.

  • Harris

    hey caitlinator,

    put this here since Josie wont see it, but her birthday is Sunday, the 7th – seeing if any friends wanna go out with us on Saturday

    write me at harrisbloom@yahoo.com since i prolly wont be able to find this again

    rock on,

    aitch

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