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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 28 November 2011
"The Catcher in the Rye" tells of Holden Caulfield, a 16-17 year old who, after being expelled from his boarding school, decides to pack up and leave. From here we experience him in the adult world, spending money, staying in hotels, experiencing (or trying to) sex. Meanwhile we are introduced to his mind. The character has a very speculative, cynical outlook which shows a sense of Salinger reaching deep inside himself to portray these complex and incredible emotions. It's a powerful portrayal of a misunderstood state of mind. Or perhaps I'm just thinking way too deeply about it. Either way, this is one of the best reads I've ever had.

Long story short, I think this is amazing. Right from the first page I was hooked. I'm very much on the same level as Caulfield. His mind set is similar to my own, and he came to life right before my eyes. It's difficult to put my finger on why I love this novel so much, I think it's because of how introspective it is. I spend a lot of my time thinking, and I suppose that aspect of my personality transcends the form of this story. For my own reasons, this is one of my favorite novels. I think that the majority of people can relate to this, as there will always be things in this world that anger us, and this is a brilliant indulgence in the cynical side of ourselves.

From what I've experienced in other reviews, there's a divide between those who think the character is unappreciative and the novel simply boring, and people who say it is a brilliant classic. It's the detractors which I will address. The beauty of the novel (at least for me) is the cynicism. Don't let this criticism put you off.
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on 18 February 2011
Salinger has managed something remarkable here. Perhaps by design, perhaps by serendipity. It took me a few attempts at reading it to appreciate this. My first effort caused me to give up after a few pages. I found it prosaic, dull, pointless. Later I opened it half way through and tried again. It tells you a lot about the quality of writing that you can start anywhere and still appreciate it. I was then hooked and read it from cover the cover several times. The secret to this book's brilliance is that Salinger has made this a very personal experience. I felt a close connection with Holden Caulfield just as I'm sure millions before me have felt the same. Holden is a very credible likeable character. He calls everyone 'old'. Even his ten year old sister is 'old' Phoebe and he has a lot of love for his sister, his elder brother and his recently deceased brother. He adopts an adult droll and ends sentences with the cliched 'and all' as if he is an actor in a movie.
Holden's stream of consciousness is fascinating. He is a well meaning, flawed eccentric. He's looking for meaning in a meaningless world of 'phonies'. His search for meaning, and need to connect, causes him to ask seemingly crazy questions about 'where the ducks in Central Park go in winter and why the fish don't die when the lake is frozen over'. He is transcending the ordinary visceral selfish world of the material and the flesh and looking for fulfilment. He is of course looking for a reason for the death of his innocent teenage brother although this is never made obvious by the author. Holden is trying to be grown up by drinking, dating and engaging a 'gas cooker' but his heart is firmly ensconced in childhood, hence his desire to save youth and innocence enshrined in his 'catcher in the rye' myth.
Catcher in the Rye becomes a companion. A book to keep by your bedside and dip into when you need to be reminded that you are not alone. That there are millions of others crying out to make sense of a senseless existence. That's why it's a classic. It perfectly sums up the position we find ourselves in: the human condition.
JP (not JD ;)
(I have not discussed the fact that the book contains swearing and other rebellious features that might have made it shocking and popular to rebels 50 years ago because I'm reviewing its relevance in 2011, and it is still very relevant.
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After hearing much about this book for many years, I finally got around to reading it. I must say that bearing in mind that it was written so long ago, it remained fresh and engaging. That said I did feel somewhat frustrated by the conclusion as much was left feeling unfinished. In many ways this is like life and it could have been the result of my wishing the story continues. I would certainly recommend the story for others.
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on 6 February 2011
Read this book as part of my New Year Resolution, which was to read the modern classics I didn't read when I was younger. I am now sorry I didn't read it all those years ago. It's full of angst and darkness which, I assume, becomes more apparent with the age of the reader. I found myself veering between pity and loathing for the main character Holden, but couldn't put the book down once I'd started reading. Holden is such a complex character I discovered myself in him quite a few times. I could imagine a budding psychologist having a field day with this book, trying to analyse Holden. Despite the underlying darkness, this is nevertheless a "must read" for everyone.
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on 19 May 2017
This Book. Oh. My. God.
Not being the most avid reader, I asked an American colleague of mine for a recommendation for a book. Her first response was that over all other books I need to buy and read this one. 2 days post purchase I have finished this book and it has changed my life. I now love reading, especially the classics such as this. Best book I have read for years.
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on 18 January 2016
I am trying to read as many "classic" books as I can. Some have been disappointing/hard going but I LOVED this book, definitely goes straight in to my top 5. The character is so likeable and the stories/memories he tells are hilarious/poignant/sad/inciteful or sometimes all of the above. A real "I'll just read one more chapter" book.
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on 4 July 2011
Let's be honest: the genius of this book is exagerated greatly.

However, as a sort of existentialist parable about a spoilt teenager, the impossible yet highly erudite Holden Caulfield, in a tense identity crisis and a race to find his own self-worth as an individual in post-War cookie cutter pseudo-utopian America, and as a cultural icon in and of itself, it still serves as a required and interesting read, most especially to those sorry beings entering that difficult adolescent stage in their lives (don't get at me, I'm only 19 myself, the pain is still fresh).
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on 8 May 2012
I bought this book after several recommendations from friends. Beforehand I read up about the novel(with the power of google and wikipedia)and I discovered that the novel has been the issue of controversy and censorship. I instantly tore the brown delivery packaging and tossed it in the bin. The books opening lines, in particular, "...all that David Copperfield crap. but I don't feel like going into it.." conveyed this book was different. Indeed as I read on it portrayed the traits of adolescent rebellion: smoking, drinking, sex, lack of respect for authority... I'm 16, and thus relate to the protagonists struggle. I recommend this book to anyone of my age, its strange how a book my grandfather would have read relates so much to society today. In the midst of university choices and the transition into adulthood, I feel sympathetic with Holden's struggle to move on from childhood and immerse into the world of adults. His inability to "get sexy" with a girl perhaps suggests his wish to hold on to the last strand of his childhood, his virginity. The adult world is everything Holden loathes, in particular the corruption of "childhood innocence". His dream of being a, "a catcher on the rye", catching kids from falling off a cliff, or falling into adulthood supports this statement. Again, this reflects modern adolescence, the struggle of identity and confusion into the transfer of adulthood is still as relevant then as it is now, believe me. The book also conveys how those who refuse to accept the rules of society are removed. Holden is the creative sort, and thus detests the strict rules of education. His anger at the, "digression business" conveys this. He is furious when a fellow classmate is incriminated for expanding on his topic; breaking the rules to convey creativity. Holdens repeated expulsions show his ambition to break the rules and be different. But those who break the rules are punished, again and again; and if they don't learn from such mistakes, they are eventually imprisoned or hospitalised(as Holden is).

I don't really know were I was getting with that point. "The Catcher On The Rye" however is an excellent book, I especially recommend it for someone of my age group. However a basic interest in literature is probably necessary, if your son is pissed because you got him this book instead of, "GTA 5", don't blame me. Overall I conclude that this book satirises youth sub-culture excellently, and whether it has a deeper meaning reflecting the institutes of society is a matter to the reader, in my personal opinion it does. We each will reflect upon this novel differently and that is the beauty of personality.
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on 4 February 2012
I was watching that Mel Gibson film where everyone thinks he's paranoid and a weirdo, everytime he sees this book in a shop he has to buy it. I'd heard of it but it intrigued me after this film so I logged on this old site and bought it.

Wow, well I didn't really put it down, it's one of those books that anyone could have written, the kind where people say, 'everyone has a book in them', this is that book. Obviously I'm not taking away from the author the talent in writing it.

Just buy it and stop pondering.
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on 7 March 2016
I read this for the first time recently, attracted to it because of its firmly cemented status as a literary classic. I found the main character irritating, very whiney, not very likeable and I cared not for his little wander. There is very little entertainment to be found in the storyline.

Perhaps it had more relevance at a particular place at a particular time- as a Brit in my mid 20's I wasn't familiar with a lot of the references and the slang.

It doesn't have a place on my shelf.
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