Books to the Sky

the classics

Posted on: August 27, 2008

Gawker contemplates why kids read still read Catcher in the Rye. The question comes from an article in Good Magazine arguing that the novel is no longer relevant, edgy, or shocking.

I read it in high school. I don’t actually remember it that well; either it didn’t leave a lasting impression, or my budding feminist self was already growing tired of disaffected young male protagonists. What about you?

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2 Responses to "the classics"

I was never forced to read this one! I feel vaguely like I should, but I’m in no hurry.

I was reading an article recently by a high school English teacher who was contemplating the idea that it is English teachers who are killing the love of classic literature in their students. He used Catcher in the Rye as an example – and said that when he taught it in his high school Junior English class, it caught fire with the students. The boys related to Holden Caulfield, the girls could relate to how much they detested boys like Holden Caulfield, and love it or hate it, there was always a lot of interested discussion in it. But now, it’s standard to read Catcher at younger and younger ages, because the reading level of the book is such that, subject material aside, it can be read by a 7th or 8th grader. And he found that it just doesn’t resonate with the younger audience because they aren’t ready to share those life experiences yet, but teachers keep pushing it younger because of the reading level. Ditto with other classics.

I read it as a high school freshman, and I liked it well enough, but I can’t say that it was one of the books that shaped my adolescence.

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Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
--Arnold Lobel

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
--Groucho Marx

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