The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger

When looking over the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die the 1 question that always arises is “why these novels?”. There are many on the list that I think everyone would agree are classics, such as War and Peace, but there are also many books that haven’t made the list that people may make a strong case for, such as Dune by Frank Herbert.

There are also many books that did make the 1,001 list, but for the life of me I can’t understand why! The Catcher in the Rye is one of these novels.

I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I just don’t see why the story of 16 year old Holden Caulfield spending 2 days larking about New York in a somewhat limp rebel fashion is so popular!

I guess you could say that this novel is the perfect example of teenage cynicism, with Holden being kicked out of school and giving everyone lip, and many people believe that The Catcher in the Rye is the perfect representation of the time, but for me, to be a true great classic a novel needs to be more than this.

It is fine to say that this novel is the perfect time piece but there are many great novels that represent their time and are also a great tale, such as Great Expectations and Crime and Punishment.

For me, The Catcher in the Rye has been hyped up more than it deserves, maybe because it was the infamous book Mark Chapman was holding when he killed John Lennon, and although it is much better than a lot of modern novels, I am not sure it fully deserves its place on this list.

However, I am sure there are hundreds of people who will completely disagree and will think I am utterly stupid! So feel free to criticise me below!

6 Comments

Filed under 1001 Books, American Greats

6 responses to “The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger

  1. Pingback: The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald | 1001bookstoreadbeforeyoudie

  2. I knew that I’ve heard of this book somewhere – Mark Chapman’s story behind this book and how he came slightly obsessed with it!

  3. “The Catcher in the Rye” is one of those books that people either love or hate, with very little room for middle ground. It always elicits some sort of strong response.

    I’m one of those people that loves “The Catcher in the Rye.” Holden’s search for authenticity and his desire to preserve the innocence of children are intriguing when paired with adolescent angst. Remember that until recently, there wasn’t such a widespread phenomenon of teenage angst and rebelliousness, because teens moved into their adult roles earlier. I think that “Catcher in the Rye” represents a turning point, and for the time it was quite remarkable. I also liked that Holden didn’t mature in the end–much like typical teenagers take a while to grow out of that phase.

    • It is an odd one, definitely love or hate! The funny thing is I see and respect all of your points, the book can be seen as new, bold and even revolutionary for its time, but even with all these plaudits I just don’t think it is a good story, and no matter what else it achieves, every great book should have a great story at its core.

      Anyway, as you say, love or hate and I hate that you love it! 😉

  4. atlasdrowned

    I felt the same way, that perhaps it was a much-needed kick for its day, but there’s no real resolution or even a peak in the story, it’s just yet another aimlessly disenchanted teen. I’ve already had my own aimlessly disenchanted teenage years thanks!

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