TBR Pile Challenge: East of Eden

After I walked away from The Teleportation Accident, I felt like I should probably still choose a book that was on my TBR Pile Challenge list. Luckily, when I went to the library and took out the aforementioned title, I also picked up East of Eden. I thought I might bring it with me for the Easter long weekend (that weekend turned out to be VERY good for my reading stats) but I didn’t end up taking it with.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read East of Eden. Probably because I was devastated by Of Mice and Men and wasn’t too keen to feel that way again for a while. I mean, guys, that book is devastating. Normally I’m all for a book that breaks a reader into a zillion pieces, but that was above and beyond.

I also haven’t read tons of American Lit. I’ve read Little Women and Of Mice and Men and Tom Sawyer and anything else that might have been forced on me on school (in Canada) (and Edith Wharton because Edith Wharton) but most of it I haven’t read. The Grapes of Wrath? Nope. Anything by Hemingway? Nope. The Scarlet Letter? I tried – it was a DNF for me, too many thous. Death of a Salesman, Beloved or My Antonia? Still no.



I finally read East of Eden. And it was spectacular.

I had no idea. I had no idea about any of it. I didn’t know that parts of it was John Steinbeck’s own family history. I didn’t know that the movie was based on only the last third. I didn’t know that it would be so beautiful or profound.

Reading East of Eden for the first time is what I imagine it would be like to see the ocean for the first time. Steinbeck is so clearly the kind of writer that writers aspire to be.

I was initially totally intimidated by the size of the book and the dense text and by the fact that this was a John Steinbeck novel and he’s kind of a paragon of literature. But it was so readable! And the time that I did spend with this novel flew by. I ripped through pages and chapters, it was easy to read 100 pages in a day. Again, surprising.

I loved these characters. I loved Lee and Samuel Hamilton especially. Cathy Ames is something. What a character to create. Diabolical, unapologetic, a complete psychopath – and her a woman in a novel published in 1952. Becky Sharp-like indeed.

I’ve said it before but I’m so glad to have signed up for the TBR Pile Challenge. I might never have read East of Eden otherwise. Certainly not right now. And it was everything I love in a book. I might be a little obsessed with it now.

16 thoughts on “TBR Pile Challenge: East of Eden

  1. I read Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men years ago, and although I thought they were great I just sort of stopped with Steinbeck, I’ve no idea why. You’ve definitely encouraged me to pick him up again!

  2. You are making me want to read this book again. I have liked all his books that I’ve read, but this one and Grapes of Wrath come out on top for me. You should read Grapes of Wrath sometime, too (depressing but, oh so good).

  3. I need to read this book! It’s been on my TBR list for forever, but I keep putting it off…mostly because of how long it is. I’m glad to know you found it so readable. (BTW, you’re not missing out by not having read any Hemingway. He’s very overrated.)

    • It’s long but not unmanageably so. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was getting through it. I think it only took me a week to read it.
      I don’t think I will ever read Hemingway so I’m glad to hear that you don’t think I’m missing anything!

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