How The Grapes of Wrath Made Me Crazy Grateful

June 16, 2015 Classics 14

Salutations Bookworms,

Today’s post is 15 years in the making. When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher allowed everyone in the class to choose between three different books as our final read for the year. The options were The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (which is obviously what I chose, because teen angst), A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, or The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I remember listening to the class discussions of the two books I didn’t choose and thinking I needed to get my mits on The Grapes of Wrath. I bought myself a copy that summer and I started it but got distracted. At some point after (or during?) college, I decided the time had come. Of course, by then, I couldn’t find my dang book. To this day I can’t locate it, which is a bummer because it was lovely and had deckle edges. Sigh. Fast forward an upsetting number of years and enter Scribd. Guess what book popped up in my audio book queue?! That’s right! The Grapes of Wrath, y’all!

thegrapesofwrathI’ve got to hand it to audio. Heavily accented language is just better this way. Plus there were harmonica breaks. HARMONICA. I always have a hard time reviewing classics because there are so many people who are so much smarter than me who have said all the brilliant things there are to say on the subject. Instead of writing a review, I thought I’d list some of the things I’m going to try harder to be thankful for after reading about the plight of the Joad family.

1. My house is in no danger of being deliberately pushed off its foundation by a tractor.

2. The worst thing that’s ever happened to me on a road trip is bad traffic.

3. Fried dough is a treat at the fair, not my only form of sustenance.

4. I have always had access to indoor plumbing.

5. None of my employers have ever cut my wages in half.

6. I will never have to give birth in an abandoned box car.

7. I’ve never had to go hungry.

8. I’ve never had to go hungry while good food was destroyed in pursuit of profit.

9. I’ve never had someone actively prevent me from growing my own food on unused land in an effort to keep from starving.

10. Seriously,  you guys, if I’m hungry it’s probably because I’m on a diet because I have access to all the food and I don’t want to buy new pants. Pants I can totally afford because I get paid more than 25 cents an hour.

The Grapes of Wrath is a classic for a reason and it hit me like a punch in the gut. If you ever need inspiration to count your blessings, put yourself in the Joad Family’s shoes for a spell. I mean shoes metaphorically, of course, because the Joads probably couldn’t afford shoes.  This book, you guys. I can’t even.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What is the book that has made you the most grateful for what you’ve got?

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14 Responses to “How The Grapes of Wrath Made Me Crazy Grateful”

  1. Bryn @Gleaningful

    I haven’t read this yet but I want to so bad!! My husband and I watched the movie a few months ago and I could not stop watching until the end (I’m notorious for falling asleep in movies). The movie was SO good!

    The Good Earth is a book that makes me grateful for what I have. It’s about a Chinese man and his family trying to survive off of the land in early 20th century China. I loved it. Oh and A Thousand Splendid Suns is another book that makes me so thankful to be safely here in the US and that my husband only has one wife!

    Great post! After your post on Scribd a month or two ago I downloaded it on my phone. I’m still thinking about using it. I just have a ton of audiobooks on my Audible app that I’ve yet to read.

    • Words For Worms

      Good call on The Good Earth, man. That was quite a book, and WHEW. Starvation stories always get to me. And yay for Scribd! I hope you like it!

  2. Michelle

    I read your comments on The Grapes of Wrath and wonder if we read the same book. I did read it in high school and many times since then because I keep thinking it is a book I should love. I don’t. I can’t even verbalize why I don’t like it other than the fact that it is too depressing. But I like depressing books, so it isn’t that. I have no idea. I just know that Steinbeck and me do not get along.

    As for the book that made me most grateful, I’m going to say Gone With the Wind because war in your yard is never a good thing, and I am just so grateful that I am living in a world when women can act like men and not scandalize the neighborhood. Plus, I have food to eat, I can pay my taxes without any problems, I can buy new clothes versus make them out of curtains, and again, no war in my backyard.

    • Words For Worms

      Hahahaha I always feel that way when I hear someone say they liked Moby Dick. Same English teacher had us read that (along with The Scarlet Letter, which I hated thanks to the mandatory dissection and endless paper re-writes.) Sometimes I wonder if I’d approached either of those books of my own volition it would have turned out differently. I can see getting hung up on the heavy dialect which is why I think the audio was a good choice for me. Anyway, GWTW is the best, I wholeheartedly agree!

  3. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    Love this post! I read Grapes of Wrath in high school and was mostly just bored. I’ve been debating subscribing to Scribd, and now I want to just so I can listen to this on audio~

    Tiny Beautiful Things was a great reminder for me to be thankful for the things I have. It gave me so much perspective!

    • Words For Worms

      I think it worked much better for me in audio than it would have in print- the dialect, man! TBT is such a beautiful book. Hmmmm… I wonder if I can find THAT on audio. That would be a delight.

  4. Darlene @ Lost in Literature

    I think the book that made me most thankful was Unbroken. So, so thankful that Louie Zamperini and many others like him walked through such horrible and unthinkable deprivation and abuse and in turn they gave us portraits of character traits we would all be better to imitate.

    As far as TGoW, I’ve never read it but a few years ago, while on a beach vacation, I took a walk down the beach and surveyed strangers as to what they were reading. There were all kinds of Hunger Games and The Help, don’t remember the other popular books of choice, but there was a beach chair next to me with The Grapes of Wrath lying in it. I would have given that person major props but they weren’t around.

    • Words For Worms

      Oh man, Unbroken was a PAINFUL read. I can’t think of any other book I’ve read where I cringed so much. (Not in a “this book is terrible way” of course, but in a “holy true tale of TORTURE” way.) I always feel an odd mix of smugness and embarrassment when I read a big old classic in public. Pulling a copy of Anna Karenina out of your handbag lends an air of haughty cache, but the reactions I’ve gotten from strangers have made me feel self conscious about it. Have I mentioned how much I love my kindle? Nobody can see the cover and I can lie about what I’m reading if I want to.

  5. Jennine G.

    One of the classics at the top of my list to be read. Loved East of Eden and actually assigned it to my AP classes as one of their choices for summer reading.

    Any book without indoor plumbing and electricity (past or post-apocalyptic) makes me grateful. I can do an outhouse, but would be a mess without electricity.

  6. AMB

    I adore The Grapes of Wrath. It’s probably my favorite book of all time. I can’t even think about it without tearing up a little.

  7. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I love deckle edges too! I think the book that’s made me most grateful for what I have is The War On Women In Israel. It’s terrifying how quickly a group can lose their rights!

  8. shoshi

    It’s from a similar period – I’ve just finished reading ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ by Nathaniel West (life in the big city during the Great Depression). Wow, it made me so happy to be alive now. Austerity Britain suddenly seems like an extremely good place to be.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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