Throughout the course of an artist’s career, there is a piece of work that stands out above the rest. This was the Garden of Eden for Nobel laureate John Steinback. Two families’ destinies intertwine in the Salinas Valley in this novel, which explores the eternal human search for self-identity and love. You may want to add these books to your reading list if you enjoyed Steinback’s multigenerational family drama.
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
In terms of American literature, Gone with the Wind is by far the most well-known. According to a survey conducted in 2014, it is the second most popular book in the United States, right behind the Bible. During and immediately following the American Civil War, the story takes place in Georgia. Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, is the focus of the story. Sherman’s March to the Sea, a military campaign against the Confederacy, disrupts her life and deprives her of wealth. Scarlet, on the other hand, is adamant about finding a way out of her plight.
As a coming-of-age story, Mitchell’s novel focuses on a young man who is influenced by the Southern culture in which he grows up. Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable starred in the Oscar-winning 1939 film adaptation, which is widely regarded as one of cinema’s all-time greats.
We, the Drowned, by Carsten Jensen
It’s an epic tale about family, unrequited love, violence, and the destructive power of the sea. The story follows the people of Marstal, a small Danish port town, through four generations and two world wars. In order to fight the enemy, Marstal’s men set out on a voyage around the world, leaving their wives and children behind and embarking on a series of high seas adventures. Not everyone returns, and those who do are changed forever.
We, the Drowned pays homage to Jensen’s hometown by combining humor and terror. Readers will follow Marstal’s progress through wars and industrialization, culminating in the creation of modern-day Denmark, as told by a variety of characters.
Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrich
Five Native American families are the focus of Erdrich’s first novel, Love Medicine, which is set on Ojibwe reservations in Minnesota and North Dakota and follows their stories. All of the characters’ lives are explored in depth in this collection of stories which spans from 1930s to 1980s. Folklore and mythology, as well as themes of love, injustice, and betrayal, are all addressed. Then, when you throw in some magic and humor, you’ve got an instant classic!
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
Over three generations, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles the Buenda family’s life in the fictitious town of Macondo. When José Arcadio Buendia and his wife, rsula, leave Columbia and establish Macondo on the banks of the river, the novel’s beginning is marked. As soon as Macondo is built, it becomes the backdrop for a series of extraordinary events that continue for seven generations of Buendias. He looks at the conflict between the need for love and the desire to be alone in Márquez’s novels. A genre known as magical realism, he creates a story that’s both grounded in reality and infused with magical elements.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
The story of 11-year-old John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany, who grow up together in a small New Hampshire town, is told through the eyes of A Prayer for Owen Meany. Owen, according to John, is an exceptional young man who has an unwavering faith in the ultimate meaning of life. As he sees it, he’s an instrument of God, meant to carry out the plans he’s drawn up for himself. Owen kills John’s mother by hitting a foul ball during a Little League baseball game. Owen doesn’t believe in coincidences, and his life is forever changed as a result of the tragic game he played.
Birds Without Wings, by Louis de Bernières
Known for his work on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières is back with another gripping tale of individuals whose lives are turned upside down by historical events they could not have predicted. On an Anatolian island, the Ottoman Empire is gradually fading away. The story is told from the perspectives of a variety of characters, including a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei, her Muslim fiancé Ibrahim, a wealthy agha named Rustem Bey, and Leyla, his Circassian mistress (who has a big secret). As World War I rages and Turkish nationalism rises, their lives are forever changed.
The Razor’s Edge, by William Somerset Maugham
Somerset Williams, Jr. The Razor’s Edge, one of Maugham’s most popular works, is just one of many gems in his extensive body of work. The story revolves around Larry Darrell, an American World War I pilot who is haunted by the memories of his wartime experiences. Having been wounded in combat and losing a friend, Larry returns home from the war with a new outlook on life. In contrast to his fiancée Isabel and her snobbish uncle Elliot, his search for spiritual meaning is at odds with the traditional lives of those close to him. As a writer who occasionally appears to witness the struggles of the novel’s main protagonists, Maugham plays only a minor role in the story.
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Nathan Price is the protagonist of Barbara Kingsolver’s best-selling novel The Poisonwood Bible. In 1959, he and his family move to the Belgian Congo with the goal of educating the people there. Orleanna, Nathan’s wife, and their four daughters serve as the story’s narrators. The four girls experience various stages of growth and development over the course of three decades. During the turbulent 1960s in the Congo, they learn to adapt to village life in Africa and deal with political upheaval. Kingsolver examines the conflict between western imperialism and local culture, portraying the good and the bad on both sides and encouraging readers to keep an open mind and an open heart throughout the reading experience.
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A philosophical work, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky explores issues of ethics, free will, and the existence of God. It’s a cross between a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a love story.
Dmitriy, Ivan, and Alexei Karamazov are the three sons of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov. Dimitri, the eldest, is impulsive and hedonistic, while Ivan, the youngest, is logical, solitary, and intellectually gifted. In contrast to his brother Ivan, Alexei’s faith in God is undeniable, and he is a joy to be around. Against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Russia’s social and political climate, Fyodor Karamazov shows no interest in his sons, and their strained relationship is at the heart of the story.
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove is a western epic about a herd of cattle being driven from Texas to Montana by a group of aging Texas Rangers. They meet everyone from bandits to heroes as they embark on their final great adventure, which takes place in the midst of a cold and stormy climate. Friendship, unrequited love, aging, and death are all themes that McMurtry explores in his book. He creates an authentic, dramatic, and joyous story that is a landmark of the American West. In 1989, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall starred in a TV miniseries adaptation of Lonesome Dove.
Roots: The Saga of an American Family, by Alex Haley
Since its publication in 1976, Roots: The Saga of an American Family has captivated and provoked readers worldwide. It is based on Haley’s family history and tells the story of an 18th century African named Kunta Kinte. When he was 17, he was kidnapped, sold as a slave, and brought to the United States as a slave. The book chronicles the lives of Kinte’s ancestors in Africa and the United States, all the way down to Haley.
During the course of ten years of research, Haley travelled to three continents to learn more about his ancestors. The result is a riveting read that has sparked interest in African American genealogy and raised awareness of the rich history of the African-American people. The book isn’t just about race; it’s a testament to humanity’s tenacity for people of all races.