If you were to ask me what author to read right now, Steinbeck would be at the very top of my list. He is simply a master of creating immensely readable and interesting stories that tackle larger subjects such as race, class, and socioeconomic status while also exploring intimate relationships among families, workers and friends. Quite unlike the breadth of East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath (which are two of my favorite books of all time), Of Mice and Men is of much narrower focus, and is what Steinbeck himself coined as a "playable novel," that is, a novel that can also be read as a play due to its heavy emphasis on dialogue. This short novel (you can easily read it in one sitting), tells the story of George and Lennie, two friends who stick together as they travel around California to find work as laborers. The book explores themes of loneliness, hope, and friendship, and depicts the daily life of the laboring class during the Great Depression. While I think it is an important piece of work and still relevant today (see the link to a recent article in the New York Times below), it is not my favorite of Steinbeck's works.