The Grapes of Wrath

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

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The Grapes of Wrath
464 pages; Penguin Classics
"This novel radicalized me. It changed my life. It made me a dedicated advocate of organizing and collective bargaining," says Ashley Judd, who came upon the classic when she was a young actor just starting out. "It was about 1991, and my acting teacher, the great Bob Carnegie, kept the fees at the school very low so that we didn't have to waste our time working as waiters. He wanted us to be able to go to museums, to see theater, to read. And I took him seriously: I read one Steinbeck novel after another, and the next thing I knew I had read his entire works—I even read the journal he kept while writing Grapes."
— As told to Sara Nelson