1)East Of Eden - Great, duh, I guess the message is slightly didactic, and I hope that James Dean movie (which is just okay by comparison) doesn't give people the wrong idea. But great.
2)Tortilla Flat - Half humorous half serious as I recall, though like you I don't remember all the details. I haven't read anything by him earlier than this.
3)The Grapes Of Wrath - I remember thinking this was pretty good but I have to admit I've forgotten most of the details of the plot. I don't really remember how it got from point A to point B and I may have just read it too fast. Hey, howzabout a REREAD!!!
4)In Dubious Battle - Underlooked!! Steinbeck looking at the labor movements and political stuff in his time. Nicely ironic ending as I recall.
5)Cannery Row - Not remembering the details of this much better than TF...
6)Of Mice And Men - Never saw any movie adaptation of this. Didn't realize until much later that that old Warner Bros. bit with the abominable snowman is based off of this. Not a bad intro to his work at any rate.
7)The Long Valley - This includes The Red Pony. Wasn't most of this really bleak? I can't remember--in fact, at this point, I'm having a hard time remembering what short story collections I have extensive memories of--by ANYBODY. Lovecraft blended together and all that Richard Matheson stuff I just read probably will at some point too. I remember Pricksongs & Descants by Coover being good but what on Earth was in it!?
8)The Pearl - Super simplistic high-school reading-assignment crap that made me wrongfully hate Steinbeck with a passion when I was 16. Obvious bleak fable crap and I secretly wish all those pissed off SJW types who hate it when white men write patronizingly about the troubles faced by poor dark skinned people would blast this book into smithereens thus diverting their attention from better books!!! :-)