Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I didn't like "The Catcher In the Rye" when I read it at fourteen

I just skimmed How to Choose Summer Reading for Students, an appropriate-for-the-Times call for more elitism in kids' reading. It mentions The Catcher in the Rye, which reminded me that I hated it when I was fourteen. I couldn't relate to Holden Caulfield. He was a rich kid at a boarding school, and I didn't have a clue then that I would be living something like his life within a year. I remember his annoyance with his roomie's clipped nails, and I couldn't relate to his fastidiousness: Dad clipped his nails when they bothered him, and therefore, so did I, and why should I care about some prissy kid? I didn't realize this was a prissy kid with psychological problems; all I knew then was that it was a prissy rich kid who was way too full of himself. I got the book at the wrong age. So, self-proclaimed reading guides of the world, shut up and let kids figure out for themselves what they love to read.

PS. Ms. Hollander, The Hunger Games has allegorical strengths that have eluded you, but not its fans—many of whom will go on to read and love The Catcher in the Rye.


  1. I didn't like The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager because Holden Caulfield reminded me of one of my (not at all rich) drunken cousins and I kept wanting to beat him to a pulp. Might have just been a surface resemblance, though.

    I'm quite sure I never got from literature what I was expected to get from it by the people who made reading lists.

  2. My biggest beef with reading lists is that they always pick the SHORTEST one. Tale of Two Cities. The Old Man and the Sea. Heart of Darkness.

    These are also the hardest ones. STOP IT, HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHERS! JUST STOP IT!