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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Travels with Charley

Recently I was on a hike and one of the topic of conversations was travel literature. We talked about some of our favorite books, what we were reading now, and what inspired us. My hiking buddy, Kory Kilmer, mentioned the one that really caught him was John Steinbeck‘s Travels with Charley. It was right at about this time that the realization struck me that I hadn’t turned a page in a Steinbeck book since high school.
Back when I was in school I hated to read. Well, not so much a hate to read but more of a hate to be told what to read. I had certain books and genres that I enjoyed, but it drove me up the wall to be told to read this for class or to read that. I wanted to pick up something that I found interesting and read it for my own desires, not because someone told me it was an important book for one reason or another. Because of this, I pretty much swore off any author I read in high school due to the bitter memories that conjured. Steinbeck was one of those authors.
In talking with Kory I realized that I should probably go back and give some of these guys another try. Some I had picked up since, but not Steinbeck. The tedium of The Grapes of Wrath seemed to be rather fresh in my memory still, but I figured I’d give it a try again anyway. And in doing so, I found a gem that I loved. The Grapes of Wrath was a fantastic novel and the one that inspired me to continue on and read Travels with Charley: In Search of America. I had expected nothing less, and nothing more, with it than I did with the first, and was not let down.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a fantastic travelogue of John Steinbeck’s road trip around American with his dog, Charley, in a camper truck that he named after the horse in Don Quixote, Rocinante. It is a spectacular tale that I don’t believe can be matched. The sites that he saw and the history that he experienced are what have shaped this country, and it’s all documented in a wonderful prose that I’m not sure can be matched. I know it sounds as though I’m gushing by saying that, but this just may be the best travel book I’ve ever read.
A road trip like this is what I once day dreamed about in class all those years ago. I hated the assigned reading as it held no meaning for me, but in retrospect it was just the wrong assignment. A fantastic story like this is what I required; an experience and something that I would love to do myself. And, I believe John Steinbeck has now inspired me to do so with his story of his Travels with Charley.

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  1. Travel Books to Read if You’re Not Traveling | Jason's Travels - June 3, 2014

    […] of the facts didn’t quite check out. Some said the same thing about John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. The thing of it is, today, no one remembers the critics, but everyone knows the stories. And even […]

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