John Steinbeck. I do believe the first book of his I read was CANNERY ROW. As with most things literary, that lead to my reading SWEET THURSDAY, which lead to wanting to read all his work. (I have not succeeded in this...yet.) By the time I got into high school I had already read, THE PEARL, THE RED PONY, and OF MICE AND MEN, which were required reading. I remember feeling a strange sense of loss when he died in 1968. His was the first death of a famous author whom I admired, that had an effect on me.
“No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.”
“Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.”
"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.”
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
"I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”