Reading List: The Catcher in the Rye

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I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I was a 15-year-old misfit. The story or, rather, musings, of the young Holden Caulfield struck a chord with me, as with millions of other people who have found the book during an opportune time in their lives. Caulfield gave a voice to the edgy, slightly neurotic, adolescent parts of my mind, which had begun to take shape but could not yet be articulated. Like Caulfield, I feared the change that I knew would come with adulthood, which I was quickly approaching. I found I wanted desperately to hold on to my childhood and my youth. To keep everything as it was. It was the book that helped me make the transition from young adult fiction to ‘grown-up’ books. This is why when somebody asks for my favourite books, it is the first one I think of. When I read the book again a couple of years ago, in my early twenties, it didn’t have quite the impact it did back when I was a teenager, staying up all night to pore over a friend’s old, tattered copy of the book. I found I had outgrown it. Perhaps I am turning into a dreaded phoney. The Catcher in the Rye The ultimate coming-of-age novel, which continues to furrow the brows of young people all over the world.

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

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