East of Eden is a masterpiece novel. I haven't read a lot that compares to the book.
East of Eden, followed by The Moon is Down.
I am noting this one to bump up on my list.
My favorites are Cannery Row and the sequel, Sweet Thursday. Those two books have been the center of my Steinbeck studies (I've read almost all of the works) for a long time. I have published a couple of papers about my findings including one that connects Steinbeck to Jung. I'd love to hear from Kindred Spirits.
I will be reading Cannery Row Soon.
Of Mice and Men is my all time favorite. What a wonderful, sad story.
Winter of Our Discontent or East of Eden . . . both are phenomenal in writing and scope.
Cannery Row. I've read and admired the bigger novels, but Cannery Row, I love. Just re-read it for the millionth time, and then was amazed to find on vacation in Sweden, of all places, a public library with more Steinbeck than my library at home has. I saw Sweet Thursday on the shelf and wondered why I'd only read it once, when Cannery Row is so wonderful I used to keep two copies: one to read and one to lend out to friends. (That was until my own copy got so worn I had to keep the pieces in a baggie.).
So I borrowed Sweet Thursday and re-read ir, and remembered why. I don't thnk it holds a candle to Cannery Row. And I'm on to Pastures of Heaven now
I enjoyed Sweet Thursday perhaps because I already knew the characters and it was like visiting friends that I hadn't seen for quite a while. My studies of Steinbeck parallel my studies in psychology as it applies outside the clinic. I realized a long time ago that Steinbeck's work has depth beyond that of good stories -- that there are nuggets of philosopher's gold that often form the base of his story structure and this holds my interest very much. Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday have examples of his application of his concept of "phalanx". This is an example of the practical application of Swiss Psychiatrist Carl G. Jung's "collective unconscious". ("Gossamer threads of steel" what what may consider disconnected entities. Perhaps I enjoyed both Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday more because they supported my studies and conclusions.
These are just my thoughts.
If I need an uplift in attitude and/or humor, Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday seem to do the trick otherwise, East of Eden is my favorite.