“Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck


“Cannery Row” is the first book by Steinbeck that I read because I wanted to and not because a teacher told me I had to prove to him/her that I read it.

“Cannery Row” has everything that one looks for in a Steinbeck book.  It has amazing descriptions that allow the reader to feel like they’re fully involved in the story.  It has simple language, making it super easy to read.  This book is 196 pages and only took me a few hours to read.  The book has a seemingly timeless quality.  In this book, Steinbeck describes a town, a time, and an industry that was over well before I was born.  However, not only do I feel like I was there because of the quality of Steinbeck’s writing, I feel like I am there now because the themes of connection, heartache, and a-progress-that-often-leaves-people-behind are themes that this generation is also struggling with.

In the author’s own words, “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Immediately, I imagine the home I grew up in, the feeling of walking past that home, knowing it is now owned and lived in by someone else.  I think of the good and I think of the frustrating.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I love reading because while it is a solitary activity, books also build community.  You’ve probably also figured out that my reviews hold very few, if any, spoilers.  I tend to talk more about how the book made me feel, or what it made me think about.  This is because, in a sense, books hold or connect memories.  I read “Cannery Row” because I was on a family vacation with my husband and my In-laws and we were traveling to Monterey, CA.  My husband had just reread the book and he told me he wanted me to read it.  It was a wonderful trip, full of fun and laughter.  This book will forever be connected to that family vacation, and so I will always feel a certain amount of nostalgia for this book.

Nostalgia – I think John Steinbeck would be proud.