Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck4 out of 5 stars
I wasn't sure about this one at first, since it's a travel memoir or a biography of sorts. But I really enjoyed it, just as much as the others. Every time I open a Steinbeck book now, it's like coming home. He's just so comfortable and easy to read. Do you have an author like that? If not, may I suggest Steinbeck? ;) Especially if you've never read him as an adult...you are missing out!
Steinbeck travels across America in a custom-made camper truck with just his dog, a blue French poodle called Charley, for company. Charley was the real star of this story. He made a peculiar Ffft sound with his teeth when he wanted attention and engineered many a meeting between Steinbeck and the strangers they met on the road. Steinbeck kind of acts like a curmudgeonly old man, but he's really not. He enjoys talking to the people he meets and soaks up the local culture everywhere he goes. The whole purpose of his trip, so he says, was to get to know his country again. Learn what makes people tick and what they are feeling, see how times have changed and how they have stayed the same, what the heart of America is and why.
For how can one know color in perpetual green,
and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?
This book will really inspire the wanderlust in you. To just leave and travel the back roads, not the busy highways where you never see anything but speeding cars, and see where the day takes you. "he is going somewhere but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction." To head to the coast and dip your toes in the ocean, visit the national parks and the not-so-famous local parks, see the sun rise in Montana and the sun set in California, and feel how the wind and air changes across the country. Seriously, this book and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour will make you want to summer road-trip like nothing else!
I have to end this review with Steinbeck's feelings on Texas. I can't help it, I'm a Texan. And everything he says is true.
Most areas in the world may be placed in latitude and longitude, described chemically in their earth, sky and water, rooted and fuzzed over with identified flora and people with known fauna, and there's an end to it. Then there are others where fable, myth, preconception, love, longing, or prejudice step in and so distort a cool, clear appraisal that a kind of high-colored magical confusion takes permanent hold. Greece is such an area, and those parts of England where King Arthur walked. One quality of such places as I am trying to define is that a very large part of them is personal and subjective. And surely Texas is such a place. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it.