Wednesday, April 13

Book: The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger Click for more info

As much as I hate to admit it, I suspect that The Catcher in the Rye is a book for guys. I'm uncomfortable with such an assertion because I reckon good books in particular should be gender-neutral, but my anecdotal evidence indicates that while guys seem to lap it up girls just don't get it.

Why this is, I can only guess. A lot of my particularly clever guy friends although hardly as rebellious as the main protagonist seem to have been through the phase of doubt and mistrust in themselves and others, fuelled by a high level of cynicism which eventually made them conclude that everyone (including themselves) is a fake. Caulfield's lack of direction should be recognised by most people though.

The lack of any kind of plot means that the book instead has to rely on its characters, and in this case it does very well. Despite cringing at how pathetic Caulfield could get, I did find myself understanding what he was going though, and feeling his pain as he got through the week

But despite the sophistication of his character, he also goes to show just how simple guys are - despite his contempt for women he has a soft spot for them, and the things he gets annoyed and distressed about are very obvious and in some cases trivial; there's no apparently emotionally led behaviour with him and although everything annoys him, they annoy him for a clear reason.

The Catcher in the Rye is a small and very easily read book that is more about a single guy than the story he's in. If you're into characterisation in novels then it's an utmost treat, but if not (or if you're a girl) then you might want to give it a miss. Personally though, I loved it.


  1. I first read Catcher in the Rye when I was 15. It is one of my favourite books, and I am a girl. I think it's very gender neutral and I could relate/sympatheize with Holden.

  2. Catcher in the Rye is one of my favourite books as well. I think Holden Caulfield is a character that most people can identify with and it doesn't matter if you're a guy or a girl. Everyone has spent a day being Caulfield.

  3. Zany, Sady,

    I'm more than happy to stand corrected. Like I said above, really good books don't only belong to particular genders so thanks for proving me wrong.

  4. Kylie14:12

    The Dice Man is apparently another one of those "bloke books" but I liked it, and like Zany, read Catcher in the Rye as a school girl and really enjoyed it.

    I think a more important distinction sometimes is the age you read a book at. All my favourite books tend to be the ones I read at school age and most of which I've re-read several times since.

  5. Kylie,

    Wait a minute. You're a girl? Oh man, now I have to go back read all your comments again...

  6. Oh dear, all your repsonses seem to be from females! I wonder how many of your male readers have read this novel in in comparison to your female readers?? Perhaps you thought women only 'get' books about love and romance ;)

    I read this for my course at univeristy, which had at least 80% female majority, and I don't remember anyone not liking it - in fact, I'm sure it was everyone's favourite on the reading list. It's definately one of my all time favourite modern classics, and Holden Caulfield one of my most loved characters. I disagree that it's a book just about a single guy: Holden is a disillusioned teenager who has left the innocence of childhood behind and is unable to come to terms with the 'phoniness' of the adult world. Because he's unable to move into the adult world, he finds himself alienated from society and life itself. Yeah there are guy elements to it, but, at least for me, I think that's just part of the growing up and disillusionment.

  7. Hafsah,

    Maybe this was all just a ploy to get women to post on my blog?

  8. On a serious note, I guess I was just trying to rationalise and explain the anecdotal evidence I had indicating that girls didn't like this book.

    Like I said above, I'm glad that such a good book isn't actually limited to just guys.

  9. Anon.78610:45

    Have you read Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth? It's a Catcher in the Rye for our age group. The protagonist is a 33 year old single professional being pestered by his Jewish parents to settle down and get married. He handles his sexual urges in a very different way to you though. It's very funny and I would recommend it, though it may offend some of your religious sensibilities!