The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – What’s Old is New

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

One thing Nicole and I have realized during our year with What’s Old is New (our literary classics podcast, if you didn’t already know) is that we tend to like the books based off of and inspired by classics a lot more than we like the classics. Another thing we have realized is that much of our popularity actually seems to come from our dislike of so many of the classics we have read. People wait with horror to see what blasphemous things we will say about their favorite classics, or with anticipation to see if we will join them in their distaste for something they were just never able to get into.

With that in mind, we’ve added a new format of show to our schedule, one we are informally calling the Classics Rip, in which we simply just both read a book, and then discuss it on the podcast. Essentially it is just the first section of one of our main shows. For our inaugural show, we decided on The Catcher in the Rye, perhaps one of the more polarizing classics out there.

I don’t want to spoil this episode for you, but my background with The Catcher in the Rye is that I read it in college and absolutely detested it. To me, Holden was nothing more than a whiny brat. On this read, my reaction was a bit more nuanced. Holden still grated, and all his talk of the ‘fakes’ all around him made me think he was protesting a bit too much (dude is the fakiest faker that ever did fake), but I was able to recognize more clearly just how much his brother’s death screwed him up, and my annoyance was (somewhat) tempered with sympathy. Of course, that didn’t eliminate all of the obnoxiousness, and I still can’t remember the last time a book made me want to swear so much.

Nicole, on the other hand, really liked The Catcher in the Rye when she first read it (she was younger than I was when she first experienced it). Up until now, we have always agreed on the classics and whether or not they should remain in our personal canon. Will this be the first literary cat fight on What’s Old is New? You’ll have to listen to find out.

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9 comments to The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – What’s Old is New

  • I read this book in High School (most of it, anyway…I was a late bloomer when it came to reading) and I remember loving the rebellion of the language and that our teachers would allow us to read something so “cool”.

    I’m sure I would feel differently about it reading it as an adult…should give it a try!

  • I hated this too, when I first read it when I was 22 or so. I’m wondering now if I, just like you, would feel a little sympathy. Not sure I’m up for a reread, though!

  • I’ve often thought I should revisit certain classics to see whether my reactions have changed. Catcher in the Rye would be a great one for me to start with because I haven’t read it since high school. I really liked it but would my reactions be different now that I have matured, at least somewhat.

  • Sigh. I’m in love with this book, but I’m finding it difficult to re-argue its benefits. I’ll just point back to one of my posts about it, for those who are interested:

  • I read this randomly a few years ago and I was not a huge fan… I mean to reread it one day because I might like it more now.

  • I too had a completely different experience the second time I read CATCHER IN THE RYE. The first time I was young and rebellious and thought Holden was totally cool. When I read it as a mother of teenagers, my heart broke for Holden and his family. There are so many kids (heck, plenty of adults too!) who are broken and just can’t admit it. A true classic is one you can read over and over and find something new every time.

  • I remeber reading it in high school and didn’t see what all the fuss was about!

  • classics need to retain resonance with the readers to remain classics in my opinion.
    You are not the first i have heard who has “trouble” with this book. it would not surprise me if in a couple more generations, it falls off the list and becomes just “one of those old books people dont relate to any longer.”

    personally, i love catcher, but the gap seems to be widening :)