Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sleep Tight, Ya Morons!

Imagine if you hadn't yet read your favorite book.

What it'd be like to read it for the first time again. Rushing home to pick it up. Wishing for weekends to spend more time with it. Studying the rhythm, the tone, the way it's put together. Falling in love with it again.

It's been years since I read The Catcher In The Rye and I still count it as my all time favorite book. There are a few that have come close, but when I really think it about, Holden still wins. I don't remember when I first read it - I must have been in middle school, maybe high school - but I remember it affected me to the core. It transformed me. It changed the way I talked (I nearly broke my crazy neck), added colorful new characters to my world (I know a Stradlater when I see one), and most significantly, it transformed the way I thought about books.

From then on I knew that literature could have a tremendous impact, first on me - and later I realized on culture, on society, on nations.

The Catcher In The Rye is the reason I have a degree in literature as well as journalism. I couldn't settle on one or the other because I knew I'd likely be a reporter, but because of The Catcher In The Rye I couldn't not study literature.

There wasn't one class in any of my literature classes that even mentioned The Catcher in the Rye, but I'd still spend my evenings in Bracken Library digging up criticism of Salinger's book instead of doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. What does Holden's red hunting cap symbolize?

What someone thinks of the book, and what their lasting images of it are, is important to me. It's one of the things I ask people when I'm getting to know them... Does the phrase, "Sleep tight, ya morons!" mean anything to you?

I can't think of one person who has ever told me they haven't read The Catcher In The Rye, though I'm certain half of them were lying. (Phonies.) Except last week. I met someone who told me he'd never read it, and I was shocked. Shocked he hadn't read it, and shocked he revealed such a gap in his required reading.

I could feel the giddyness rising up inside me and a glint forming in my eye. "You have to read it now! Like, right now!"

It's pretty exciting to know someone who's reading it for the first time. I'll be able to live vicariously through him. Hopefully it's not awkward when I call him up every night to ask where he is in the book, what just happened and what's his favorite part so far.

I think I'm going to start reading it again too. It's been years since the last time and I'm curious how it will read now. We'll be a book club - of two.


gerard said...

I liked this post a lot.

I read Catcher in HS, but I must confess I don't remember much of it. I remember liking it. I remember the moment when he talks about being the catcher, and then the title becomes evident. That was pretty cool.

Amy P said...

I'm so excited! We finally agree on a book! I LOVE Catcher. Love it. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

i absolutely ADORE catcher in the rye, i've read it a billion times and it appalls me every time someone tells me they haven't read it, and then my urgent recommendations start lol, thanks for the post though, my feelings exactly! :)