I am the worst English major ever, because I am 22 years old, in my final semester of college, and I just read Catcher in the Rye for the first time. We all know the gist of the story by JD Salinger. Boy gets kicked out of school, has a good ole time in NYC, and learns that he is a total git. Alright, so what? I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the book overall, even if I hated Holden as a character.
A little backstory: I have lied about having read Catcher in the Rye for years. I distinctly remember a day in HS where this guy I had a HUGE crush on, and he knew it, texted me out of the blue saying, “Have you read Catcher in the Rye? It’s my new girlfriend’s favorite book and I’m wondering if I should read it.” I was so upset, obviously, and I remember telling him the book said a lot about her as a person and going on my way. Now, I stick by that statement but with a little more understanding of why people actually read this book despite Holden as a character being the absolute worst.
Anyway, I finally read this book and I was shocked that I actually enjoyed the overall writing. The language is humorous and the situations are treated as they are, and even though Holden was an atrocious character I wanted to keep reading. It’s pretty great that the book is as short as it is though, because I don’t know if I could have taken one more use of the word “old.”
Frankly, I’d recommend about a dozen classics over this one, but I feel like I can say I’m a real English major for finally reading it, and I understand a lot of pop culture references now. I was also fascinated by the assassination conspiracy tie with this book, but maybe that’s not so effective as a CIA method going forward, huh Internet?
My own personal conspiracy theory about this book is that Holden was either killed/sustained major brain damage when his roommate beat him up and the rest is a dream/death vision/caused by brain damage. But that’s just me.
Another weird tie I have to this book: Joyce Maynard came to speak at my school my freshman year. She’s the author of Labor Day and several other books. I found out while googling her that she actually dropped out of Yale her freshman year to go live with JD Salinger as his mistress basically (he wasn’t married, but you know what I mean) and she later wrote about how awful her experience was and his estate tried to silence her. Crazy.
What book do you feel like you have to read to be a real book lover? Any books you’ve been lying about reading for years?