Thursday, October 4, 2012

Banned Books: The Catcher in the Rye

I can't remember if this book was required reading in 9th or 10th grade English class, but I still have my copy. I couldn't hand it in at the end of the semester because I kept re-reading it, each time feeling as if I were closer to cracking Salinger's secrets and understanding Holden Caulfield more completely. I've since read other Salinger books, but at the time this novel was so radically different than anything I'd read previously that I needed to keep it. And I still have it.

I tried to read it again recently, and found I didn't have the time or the patience to sit down and give it the attention it needs... there are so many layers of meaning, beyond the "bad language" and "innapropriate behavior" and "sexual content" that has parents trying to ban it from their school's curriculum.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? Was it required reading? What did you think? Have you read it again lately?

Out of the list of the Top 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century... Many of them have been banned and/or challenged. The list below shows those challenged and banned - for the complete list of Top 100 books, go HERE.

See how many of these classics you've read - Count them up and leave it in the comments. I've only read 23 of the 46 listed. (I guess I have more reading to do - and soon!) How about you? Which are your favorites?

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike


  1. Yikes. I've only read 12 on that list. I feel like such a slacker now.

    Catcher in the Rye was not required reading in my school. Half my English class that year read it. I didn't. I think I read The Sound and the Fury instead. I did read it on my own about a decade later though.

  2. *peeps out from between fingers* I've only read 6 of them!!

    1. lol, no worries! There's never enough time to do all the reading we'd like... but if you haven't read the top 5 on the list, you should definitely get around to them! Worth the time ;-)

  3. ...oh and Lord of the Rings should really count as 3 books - or 4 if you include the Hobbit!

  4. ...and I would recommend Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions over Cat's Cradle...

  5. I've read at least thirty of them. Interestingly, probaby because I'm seventy, Catcher in the Rye didn't turn up for me until college. Now my 13 year old granddaughter is assigned Lord of the Flies.

    My parents would not have allowed most of these books in my house. I read Native Son during a baby sitting job at about sixteen or seventeen, away from home. I did read Gone with the Wind at home. I probably was that same age.

    1. Native Son is one I've never read, but my oldest just had to read it for 11th grade AP English. Lord of the Flies is another great one I should've posted about - loved and hated that book in high school!

  6. I read six on your list. Wish I could say it was more. I also blogged about Catcher in the Rye as my favorite banned book. L-O-V-E it!

    1. (I can only imagine there was a lot of "required" and "Suggested" reading you must have skipped over... or maybe the books were banned from your curriculum?)

  7. 19. I'm a little shocked myself.

    1. Good for you, Libby! There are a few of these books that I started and didn't get into so never finished. For example, I love John Updike, but have yet to read his Rabbit books, despite having met him at a luncheon and owning a signed copy of Rabbit at Rest... such a slacker...


Go ahead - leave a comment! You know you want to! But don't be Anonymous - that'll just get you deleted. And who wants that?