John Steinbeck is a world-renowned writer who wrote novels, plays, essays, and short stories during his lifetime. His most famous books are Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, but he wrote many other books before his death in 1968. Many of his books were published posthumously.
John Steinbeck wrote 33 books, although some were published posthumously; one was co-authored with Edward Ricketts. These books include 16 novels, six nonfiction books, and two short story collections.
In the rest of this article, I’ll list all John Steinbeck books with brief descriptions, so you’ll know if you’ve missed one or which one you should pick up. After all, reading has many benefits, especially if you’re reading books as good as the ones Steinbeck wrote. If you’re a Steinbeck fan (or want to become one), keep reading!
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A List of Steinbeck’s Books
The following list outlines all books by John Steinbeck. All links are to Amazon:
- Cup of Gold(1929, Novel). This book follows Henry Morgan, a pirate who ruled the Spanish Main. His two goals are to possess the beautiful woman La Santa Roja and to conquer Panama.
- The Pastures of Heaven(1932, Short Stories). These short stories are interconnected and describe a family living near Monterey, California. In these stories, Steinbeck tackles American naturalism.
- The Red Pony(1933, Novella). This short novella follows Jody Tiflin, who lives on his father’s California ranch. At only 95 pages, you could easily read this Steinbeck work in just one day.
- To a God Unknown(1933, Novel). Joseph Wayne is working on fulfilling his deceased father’s dream of running a prosperous farm in California when he starts to believe that a tree on the farm embodies the spirit of his father. This mystical tale explores man’s attempt to control nature and understand God.
- Tortilla Flat(1935, Novel). This novel follows Danny, a man descended from Spanish settlers who now lives in Monterey, California.
- In Dubious Battle(1936, Novel). This fast-paced novel follows a strike by migrant workers in California apple country, particularly Jim Nolan.
- Of Mice and Men(1937, Novella). This is the most well-known of Steinbeck’s books. It follows the unlikely pair George and Lennie as they work as laborers in California. It has been adapted into a stage play and a 1992 film starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.
- The Long Valley(1938, Short Stories). This collection is set in Salinas Valley in California and follows the tensions between laborers and owners.
- Their Blood Is Strong (1938, Nonfiction). This pamphlet is a factual story about the migratory agricultural workers in California.
- The Grapes of Wrath(1939, Novel). This Pulitzer-prize-winning epic chronicles the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and follows the Joads, a farm family in Oklahoma.
- The Forgotten Village(1941, Script). This script tells the story of modern medicine coming to the natives of Mexico.
- Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research(1941, Nonfiction, Co-authored with Ed Ricketts). This collaboration weaves narrative with popular science. It is a record of an expedition in the Gulf of California and a diary of the excitements and triumphs of men. This was Steinbeck’s only collaboration, with marine biologist Ed Ricketts.
- The Moon is Down(1942, Novel). In this book, a small coastal town is overrun by an invading army, making the people of the town angry and confused.
- Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team(1942, Nonfiction). This is Steinbeck’s account of his experiences with the United States Army Air Force bomber crews during the Second World War.
- Cannery Row(1945, Novel). This novel is meant to capture the feeling and people of the cannery district of Monterey, California. The plot follows Mack and a group of unemployed men, but many vignettes introduce other people in the Row.
- The Wayward Bus(1947, Novel). This book follows a bus traveling California’s back roads and the people making the journey.
- The Pearl (1947, Novella). Kino gathers pearls from gulf beds for a meager subsistence, until he finds a pearl the size of a seagull’s egg. This discovery brings the promise of hope and security.
- A Russian Journal(1948, Nonfiction). After the iron curtain fell on Eastern Europe, Steinbeck ventured into the Soviet Union to report for the New York Herald Tribune. A Russian Journal is the documentation of this journey.
- Burning Bright(1950, Novella). This short novella follows a man who doesn’t know he is sterile, a wife who commits adultery so she can give her husband a child, and the father of the child.
- The Log from the Sea of Cortez(1951, Nonfiction). This is the day-to-day account of the same journey described in Sea of Cortez.
- East of Eden(1952, Novel). This novel follows two families in Salinas Valley, California.
- Sweet Thursday(1954, Novel). The sequel to Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday brings more residents of the Row to life.
- The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication(1957, Novel). This work satirizes the French Revolution.
- Once There Was a War(1958, Nonfiction). In 1943, John Steinbeck was on assignment in Italy, North Africa, and England during the London blitz. This book chronicles his experience.
- The WInter of Our Discontent(1961, Novel). Through Ethan Allen Hawley, Steinbeck explores the line between private and public honesty.
- Travels With Charley: In Search of America(1962, Nonfiction). With his French poodle Charley, Steinbeck drives from Maine to the Monterey Peninsula in California.
- America and Americans(1966, Nonfiction). This collection includes more than 50 of Steinbeck’s journalistic pieces and essays.
- Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters(1969, Nonfiction). This collection includes the letters Steinbeck wrote to warm up before writing East of Eden.
- Viva Zapata!(1975, Screenplay). This original screenplay is about Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution.
- Steinbeck: A Life in Letters(1975, Nonfiction). Steinbeck reveals his thoughts and character in his letters.
- The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights(1976, Fiction). This is a reinterpretation of tales from Malory’s Morte d’Arthur using modern English.
- Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath(1989, Nonfiction). While writing The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck faithfully kept a journal, telling the tale of his determination, inspiration, and struggles.
- Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War(2012, Nonfiction). This is a passionate account of Steinbeck’s firsthand experience of the American War in Vietnam.
Many of John Steinbeck’s books are well-known and adored, and for a good reason, as he’s one of the most beloved twentieth-century American writers. He is most known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, but his other 31 books are just as wonderful.