Maybe it’s a young person’s book…

Book club this afternoon and our book of the month is J.D.Salinger’s novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’; it is hailed as a classic of modern times… but written nearly seventy years ago, (the idea for it began in 1940 so it is even older!) it surely is no longer modern. Maybe a post-war classic would suit it better, a coming of age novel, an angry young man novel? Or maybe it’s a spoiled brat novel, a selfish, immature kid who throws his toys out of the pram and blames everything and everyone for his ‘angst’ and disappointments?

From this, you will gather that on re-reading I didn’t enjoy it and was shocked at how alienated I felt from the character and his adventures! Holden is a wealthy young man (fencing? a brother who is a script writer? exclusive boarding school? taxi cabs and hotel rooms?) and yes, he does have what amounts to a breakdown, but as I reread it I lost patience with him – sadly I confess because when I’d previously read it I’d had a very different opinion. So maybe it is a young person’s book – but these days would an ordinary young person in an ordinary situation empathise with Holden and his problems? I must find a young person to read it!

Here is something I wrote about coming back to books you used to love:

We were talking today about books we had loved when we originally read them and then were disappointed on reading them again.

Catcher in the Rye‘ by J.D. Salinger was a book I first read when I was about fourteen or fifteen, and although it was never a favourite, I did like it and put it on my ‘good book’ list. I read it again recently and was shocked and disappointed, shocked because I thought it just hadn’t stood the test of time; it seemed incredibly dated – yes, I know it was written sixty years ago but some books are timeless. I loved Salinger’s other books more, ‘Raise High the Roof-beam, Carpenter,’ ‘For Esmé—with Love and Squalor’, ‘Franny and Zooey’ – dare I reread them? Might I be disappointed with them too? Maybe ‘Catcher’  is a young person’s book, maybe if a fourteen year old read it now they would enjoy it as I did.

Catch-22‘ by Joseph Heller was my all-time favourite book for many years… I reread it a short while ago and really struggled to engage with it… again, maybe it is a book for the young! I still remember so many scenes from it and quote from it, and I still think it is a great book but I have changed as a reader. For some light reading I have been catching up with Agatha Christie recently; and I had mixed feelings. I think she is underrated as an author by some people, she was able to capture a character in a few lines, she did not shy away from risky subjects, child murderers, incest, sexual grooming of young people, adultery, and murder of course.  I enjoyed the books I read again, but as I read them I wondered how much they would appeal to new readers, although the plots and characters are revisited again and again by TV and film makers.

I wonder if the reverse could also happen; I wonder if I read books I disliked on the first reading, whether I would appreciate them more? It didn’t happen with Thomas Hardy’s books, or Jane Austen, but I wonder if I might actually manage to finish ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin‘ by Louis de Bernières and enjoy it?


  1. David Lewis

    Never get tired of seeing my first robin in the spring though. Some things you never get enough of. It’s a special time for me. It’s a symbol of life and rebirth. Youth and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Do your robins only comein spring time? Over here they are with us all the year round… don’t get many ion our garden though – loads of sparrows, jackdaws, pigeons and crows and the occasional blue tits – oh and seagulls of course! We used to get lots of starlings and magpies, but not so many of those now, either.


  2. David Lewis

    Our robins migrate in August to the southern states and return in April. My wife and I have fun trying to be the first to spot one. When I was a kid in England my brother and I had a bet to see who could spot the Blackpool tower first. A baby robin fell out of the nest in our tree years ago and we tried to rear it till he could fly but with all our efforts it died. Do you want to hear about the chicken with the big eyes?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Lewis

    When I was young and just started working at our steel plant I was having lunch when an old Italian fella came into our lunchroom yelling Davey you gotsa come a look, itsa chicken witha big eyes. I had to see this so I followed him out to the mill only to find out that is was a great snowy owl and sure enough it had the biggest eyes I had ever seen. Still laugh my head off when I think of the old fella.Next day he was crying at the lunch table and a friend of his asked him why. My wife a justa die he said. His chum said it was no reason to cry as he had three wives die and he didn’t cry.The first wife died of eating poison mushrooms. the second wife died from mushrooms and the third from a fractured skull. A fractured skull he asked? And his chum said yea she didn’t like mushrooms!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lois

      My all time favourite book is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – the Gary Oldman film got fabulous reviews, but when I went to see it – what a shocker! It was terrible! it had lost all the subtlety, all the tension… luckily I reread the book and it was just as good!


  4. lynnee8

    I love ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ still! However it took me years to finish ‘Catch 22.’ I never did see the film ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ because I knew it wouldn’t be even half as good as the book!


    1. Lois

      It’s so strange – and interesting, that everyone sees and feels something different in and about a book! When someone says ‘I’m sure you will like it’ I always really hope I do, because they would be so disappointed if i don’t!


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