East of Eden – John Steinbeck

book cover john steinbeck east of eden

An epic masterpiece from an iconic author

John Steinbeck is regarded as one of the greatest American authors and East of Eden is his masterpiece work. This book is an epic as it follows a family through 3 generations through the highs and lows of life. Steinbeck has a way of painting the picture in your mind, not only of the rich scenery but also the subtle mannerisms and depth in the characters. This is a heavy book that covers heavy topics.

“It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years. I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.”

John Steinbeck (source here)

Major themes

East of Eden contains a cyclical story arc that also parallels with the story of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis. Certain themes and ideas are played out in the book, often in graphic detail. The major themes are:

  1. Human depravity
  2. The search for love and acceptance
  3. Guilt
  4. The battle of good and evil

The author pulls no punches as he explores the depths of depravity, especially through the character Cathy Ames (possibly the greatest villain of all time). The main characters struggle to find family love and acceptance, while at times giving in to their worst impulses.

Final thoughts

While I greatly appreciate the skill and genius it took to compose this masterpiece, it is way too dark for me. The detail in the scenery is beautiful, but the detail of the darkness is overwhelming (for me at least). Samuel Hamilton is my favorite character and there is a lot in this book that is powerful. It really is an excellent novel overall, but the content may be too much for some. I also want to point out a trigger warning of self-harm and suicide in this book.


Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Does life have meaning, even in the worst situations?

This is the story of Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, philosopher, and Holocaust survivor. Not only did he survive, but he came away from that unimaginable horror with a profound sense of love, compassion, and significance. He would go on to teach that suffering is a normal part of the human condition. We can’t avoid it. In fact, there are a lot of things that will happen to us that are completely out of our control. But we do have one thing that we can control – how we choose to respond. How you choose to respond is the key to growth. Continue reading “Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl”