In February 2014, AARP published a list of “Readers’ Picks: Ten Books Boomers Love.” Numbers two through ten are published at the end of this post. Number one was J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, first published for adults on July 16, 1951, only to became popular with adolescent readers because of its teenage themes of angst and alienation. The book has been translated into almost every major language in the world, and it’s already sold more than 65 million books with an additional 250,000 sold every year.
In 1960, a teacher was fired, and later reinstated, for assigning the novel in class. While I remember having the book as required reading in high school, I don’t recall anything from it, even after reading the synopsis. Does that mean I had my angst and alienation under control?
Three highly-publicized shootings have been attributed to the shooter’s reading Catcher in the Rye, including; Mark David Chapman’s shooting of John Lennon, John Hinkley Jr.’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and Robert John Bardo’s shooting of actress Rebecca Schaefer. Other murders have also been associated with the book. Talk about angst!
On the other hand, last year, the Huffington Post, listed five things the book can teach you, “even if your prom-going days are far behind you.”
- You’re not alone in your frustrations.
- Societal niceties aren’t only phony.
- Excellent writing can transport you.
- Growing up means channeling your frustrations towards something productive.
- Beauty is rare and worth holding onto.
In 2014, a movie documentary, named “Salinger,” (duh) was aired. It’s available on Netflix. I found it fascinating, but critics and reviews rated it poorly. If you have two-hours, and you’re motivated to learn about Salinger’s “unique” life, please watch it. He was certainly one of the “Greatest Generation,” having landed at Normandy, surviving the Battle of the Bulge, and ultimately being involved in the liberation of one of the German concentration camps. He also volunteered to help with the trials of German war criminals.
By the way, did you know J.D. stood for Jerry (actually Jerome) David?
And here’s the rest of the ten books boomers love:
- In Cold Blood
- Lord of the Flies
- Fahrenheit 451
- The Color Purple
- The Joy of Sex
- The World According to Garp