John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, where he spent the summers of his youth working on nearby ranches — the setting for much of his literary work, including “Of Mice and Men” and “East of Eden.” His experiences gave him insights into the lives of the downtrodden, who often served as the protagonists in his novels. These struggles, not to mention living through the Great Depression, gave Steinbeck a greater appreciation for the good times he enjoyed. Steinbeck followed up the quote above with, “You only truly, deeply appreciate and are grateful for something when you compare and contrast it to something worse.”