I promised myself about a year ago (see blogpost) that I would read more books of the list The best 60 books of the past 60 years, provided by Times Online. The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, is on this list and, believe it or not, I’ve never ever read it. This week I discovered it was on a banned books list as well. To me that’s very difficult to comprehend because in my opinion no books should be banned. Maybe that’s my next challenge, reading 50 banned books.
The narrator in the Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield. He’s a sixteen year old boy that’s been expelled from his boarding school. Because it’s not for the first time he’s afraid to tell his parents. Holden sees no reason to stay at school but he can’t go home because his parents don’t expect him to arrive any sooner then the end of the term. Therefore he decides to spend some days in New York.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this book. It’s the realness of Holden’s character that drew me into this story. Holden is a teenage boy with a teenage mind, using teenage language with a contempt for “phonies”. He’s growing up and that’s not easy. He is often depressed, feels attached to his deceased kid brother and to his kid sister Phoebe. In fact, I think his brother and sister are the two most important people is his life. It’s Phoebe who helps him out when he needs money. It’s Phoebe who won’t let him walk away all alone.
Throughout the book Holden’s getting to know what he really likes and what makes him happy.
One of the parts in the book I enjoyed most was when his sister Phoebe points out that he doesn’t like anything. He tells her what he would like to be, “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around –nobody big, I mean–except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff–I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy”.
Well, don’t you like that? Straight from the heart, I would say.
The last sentence in the book is one to remember, “It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody”.
This book really deserves to be listed as one of the best 60 books of the past 60 years. Four stars out of five.
I would like to recommend reading “J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly” by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post on october 19, 2004.