This is Eden.

This is Eden.

A short critique of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

A Thing of Beauty, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Oh my. This is big, Dear Reader.

So big.

I just found my new all-time favorite novel.

(gasp!)

Yep. It’s true.

(What was the former all-time favorite, you ask? Unsurprisingly, it was Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s the only book (with the exception of books I’ve taught) that I’ve read twice.)

East of Eden, yo. It slid past Grapes for first place in my heart.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

. . .

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

I firmly believe that Steinbeck’s writing is best enjoyed in small, slow sips. Like a fine whisky, his stories are nuanced. There are countless moments of beauty, honesty, and tenderness. So please: do not rush through his works. They are much too lovely to swallow in a single gulp.

As for East of Eden, it’s a novel that’s been on my list since high school. And now that I’ve read it, I can’t imagine my life without it.

In a tiny nutshell (I promised to be succinct!) this novel follows the lives of two American families at turn of the 20th century. The families are loosely based on Steinbeck’s own ancestors, and the story also draws parallels to the biblical tale of Cain and Abel. It’s detailed, personal, and in a word, a masterpiece.

In closing, you need to know there are delicious one-liners are nearly every page. I’d love to produce a collection of tee shirts with all of the quotes from this novel. (Hmm. New project? Stay tuned.)

So my favorite quote? I’m going to have to pick a page, any page:

“[…] And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule–a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar” (Steinbeck).

This is spoken by Lee, who may be my new favorite character in all of literature. (Okay, besides Ebenezer Scrooge. He’ll always be number one.)

So there we have it, friends. Snap’s latest book review, which happens to be her new favorite novel.

I hate when people over-hype things, but I just couldn’t help myself.

This is a piece of art.

I hope you enjoy it as I have, and surely will again.

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Books.

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Books.

Here they are! The 100 volumes that made the cut.

(If you haven’t already, check out my selection process on my previous post. Check it out here, yo.)

A few notes:

-Almost all of these are novels, but I included some poetry, essays, plays, and short story collections, as well.

-I consider this list to be High School English-Teacher approved. There are a few Young Adult reads included.

-I listed the original publication date, just for fun. (PS: My new pet-peeve is when newer publications leave off the original copyright date. Why? It’s lazy, and in my opinion, irresponsible.)

They are listed in no particular order, love.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these!

SnapDragon’s 100 Classics Reading Challenge List:

1.The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

2. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)

3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1955)

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

5. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)

6. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

7. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1947)

8. The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles (429 BC)

9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien (1990)

10. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1950)

11. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

12. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

13. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson (1990)

14. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1894)

15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

16. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

17. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (1993)

18. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad (1899 & 1910)

19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

20. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

21. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

22. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

23. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)

24. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

25. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

26. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1931)

27. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)

28. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (1831)

29. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

30. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

31. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

32. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1865 & 1871)

33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

34. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999)

35. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)

36. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

37. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)

38. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

39. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)

40. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1969)

41. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

42. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

43. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

44. for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange (1975)

45. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)

46. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

47. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

48. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1387)

49. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

51. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)

52. Beowulf by an unknown author (1000 AD)

53. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869)

54. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

55. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

56. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

57. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)

58. Night by Elie Wiesel (1958)

59. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

60. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1955)

61. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

62. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2007)

63. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1946)

64. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (1912)

65. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (1965)

66. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

67. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

68. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

69. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1967)

70. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928)

71. Don Quixote by Cervantes (1605)

72. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

73. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (2015)

74. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)

75. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)

76. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

77. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1897)

78. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin (1952)

79. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997)

80. White Noise by Don DeLillo (1984)

81. Ruby by Cynthia Bond (2014)

82. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe (1719)

83. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

84. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967)

85. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

86. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989)

87. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer (762 & 750 BC)

88. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1320)

89. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)

90. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

91. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)

92. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’ Dell (1960)

93. The Collected Jack London by Jack London (various)

94. The Complete Stories by Flannery O’ Connor (various)

95. The Signet Classic Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories by Mark Twain (various)

96. The Penguin Arthur Miller: Collected Plays (various)

97. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry (various)

98. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2002)

99. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1916)

100. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Rules.

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Rules.

See SnapDragon’s selection process for her Ultimate Library.

Heaven at Home, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

So you like to read, eh?

Then welcome to Snippets of SnapDragon’s newest feature:

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge!

(cue ribbon cutting and confetti cascades)

As a certified high school English teacher, a post-graduate of English studies and creative writing, and just a bonafide lover of fiction, I decided it was time to create. . .

The Ultimate Library.

So I asked myself, “What are my favorite novels of all time? What are my favorite novels to teach? What are some novels, new and old, of critical acclaim?”

I envisioned a wall of empty shelves.

What to choose? There are so many novels I haven’t even read yet! (Gulp.)

So I decided to give myself some homework, by creating one doozy of a reading list.

The Rules:

  1. I decided to select 100 volumes for this venture. I say volumes because some of the titles are a part of a set, or trilogy. (For example, The Iliad and The Odyssey came in one volume. So while these are two separate novels, they only fill one space out of my designated 100.)
  2. All 100 volumes are works I have not yet read. As I said, I realized that there were so many “classics” that I’ve never even cracked open. So like a kid in a candy shoppe (or… me in a candy shoppe) I went on a book-buying binge.
  3. I’m a Formalist. Simply put, I want a story to speak for itself. While historical context and the author’s biographical influence can add layers of meaning to a work, that is not how I judge a novel. These 100 volumes were selected by title alone, and therefore do not meet certain quotas based on an author’s gender, race, age, or philosophy.

So there you have it!

My shelves are stocked, yo.

I began this challenge on my 30th birthday, and vowed to finish all 100 by my 40th. Considering I’ve only made it through three so far, I have my doubts about this timeline. (I like to read other stuff, too!)

But I shall not give up!

Check out my next post for the full list!

Happy reading, friends.