Here's the move !
Read the book AND the Cliff notes simultaneously! I'm sure millions of people already do it but I discovered it for myself and I appreciate the art of authoring more than ever.
I chose John Steinbeck's "THE GRAPES OF WRATH" because I wrote my blog about Woody Guthrie's biographical movie, "BOUND FOR GLORY" on February 11th, and saw many parallels between them.
He also wrote "OF MICE AND MEN." I read it in junior high and didn't get much out of it. As an adult HOBOKENKID turned me onto his novel, "THE PEARL" and loved it. Now I'm sold on him.
Some critics didn't like the socialist overtones in "Grapes of Wrath." The reality is, the overtones, as the title suggests are purely spiritual. Even if you prefer to ignore the religious implications, you can't possibly come away from this book without appreciating the notion and value of the concept: GOOD WILL TOWARDS MAN!
Steinbeck, in addition to his sweeping poetic descriptions, likes to lead the reader on an apparent adventure that will take his characters to their ultimate destiny. But somewhere along the line that direct path is diverted and the characters reach a completely different zenith. Or as the French like to say; LES ENDINGS DU SURPRISE !
I consider myself to be an aspiring author. I often think my scribblings are on the right track because I actually like my blog, the short stories, novel and two screenplays. That is odd because I'm usually overly critical of myself. However, after reading Steinbeck, I really have a hard time even imagining myself with the same shingle, AUTHOR, in front of my name. To illustrate my point further...while reading "Grapes of Wrath," read the Cliff notes!
Suddenly, the chapter you just loved takes on so much more meaning as each clump of Spackle between the cracks comes alive. Now I use a lot of imagery myself, but far less efficiently. I like seeing the reaction of my readers when I tell them the significance of; a name, the color of a scarf or the angle of a shadow. But Steinbeck is a genius. There is no waste. Every word serves as a foundation to build the story and in the end, the mortar is so smooth, you can't believe there ever were any cracks.