Category Archives: J. D. Salinger

My Worst Best Books

“What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?” That is the question from today’s Booking Through Thursday and I could instantly think of one and that would have to be Twilight which though no one I knew was loving most of the UK population seemed to be joining in with that whole bandwagon and that included me. I thought it was overly long repetitive and didn’t really have any likeable characters. I also got very bored with the whole ‘I love him but he’s dangerous’ that seemed to be repeated twice every page.

However if I am talking about books I have been recommended by lots and lots of people I know and would generally say I trust in terms of great reading guidance I think I have four main contenders, actually no, I have five books I could put forward for you. All of them have been described as being ‘very me’ and though bar one I have finished them all they have left me completely cold. The one I didn’t finish and therefore have promised several people I will re-read this year is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Hated the writing style, was bored and then someone told me the ending which I am hoping I have forgotten! I was also just generally a bit bored with it.

Second on my hit list would have to be The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Even I thought I would love this book as I am a big fan of dark gothic spooky tales but this left me cold, one part made me jump admittedly but the rest I thought was a bit dull, Novel Insights read this with me at the time and agreed. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger was another book loads of people told me I should read. I have never disliked a lead character more and I know you shouldn’t like all characters but when all they do is moan, lie and fantasise you come away bored. Fourth would be The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, found it very confusing and then the ending just completely let me down!

Now for the fifth and final book which I am sure will cause uproar for some people when I say this but it has to be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The leads are two of the most selfish vile characters written and in an overlong and quite dull narrative, totally boring. I couldn’t wait for the end of both of them and the end of the book. There I have said it. Sorry if that shocks you but seriously I was so disappointed. Having been to Haworth and walking to the farm that caused the inspiration for the book and walking the moors I thought I would love it… no!

I do love being recommended books though. I would never have read The Book Thief so early on if it hadn’t been raved about by my friend Danielle. I would never have dipped into Daphne Du Maurier if three people hadn’t told me Rebecca was one of the best books ever written, in fact I would have missed a fair few of my favourites (The Woman in White, Brideshead Revisited, Lady Audley’s Secret, To Kill A Mockingbird) if they hadn’t been recommended to me so fervently.

I am trying to think of books I have recently been recommended. Simon at Stuck in a Book has told me I must read Alice in Wonderland so will be giving that a go soon and reporting back and indeed I have promised Dovegreyreader I shall try We Need To Talk About Kevin once more. I will report back on those! What books would you recommend I read? What are the worst best books you’ve read?

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Filed under Emily Bronte, Henry James, J. D. Salinger, Joseph Conrad, Lionel Shriver

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

I never had to do J. D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ when I was at school and it’s always been a book that I have wanted to read and yet have never sort out when I have been in the bookshop. However this all changed when I saw a copy of this in Oxfam, they go like gold dust in charity shops I have been reliably told, for a whopping 99p. I am glad I didn’t pay any more for it frankly.

There is always a danger when you have heard how amazing a classic is that it simply wont live up to the hype, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is certainly one such book. I am sure that writing this will be seen as some kind of literary sacrilege, I am happy to put up with that as I don’t think me panning it will stop it selling anymore copies now will it?

Holden Caulfield is the protagonist and this is indeed his coming of age tale, this confused me from the start as I simply couldn’t work out how old he was, sometimes I thought he was about ten other times I thought he was about seventeen I found it completely confusing. I didn’t like him, he started of saying how he was a liar and from that point on I couldn’t work out whether what he was telling you was the truth or not, and I sadly ended up not caring. All the secondary characters were stereotypes and I felt the book offered nothing new we haven’t read or seen a hundred times of more, this being the classic I suppose it was one of the originals to do this, but hey ho.

No I really didn’t like ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ in fact I wish I had read it at school as you always hate the books you read at school and study to death, plus I would have got a boring dull book out of the way early on in my reading life. I have kept it on my shelves though, just to show people I have actually read it. I hope the classics I have planned to read soon don’t turn out as bad as this.

Note: My mother an English teacher has just said on the phone ‘oh god why did you read that rubbish, it’s terrible’. My Gran who is extremely well read and proud of it said something equally similar though slightly ruder.

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Filed under J. D. Salinger, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics, Review