Unlike most wannabe Literature students, I didn’t get into Literature until a relatively late age. While yeah, I’d always enjoyed reading, my book collection had never strayed far beyond A Series of Unfortunate Events and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. However, this all changed at the tender age of thirteen. It was at this age that the five-story Waterstones in the heart of Birmingham created a ‘banned books’ section, featuring an array of books that had been banned throughout history. It was this sense of danger, the controversy, this excitement that wove its way into my very being, with this raw passion still burning five years later.
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The first book I dared to buy from this wondrous banned bookshelf was Salinger’s masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, and it is this book that has dictated my fate ever since. Salinger’s raw first person account of teenage isolation, through the voice of Holden Caulfield, is one that is enduring yet melancholic. Essentially, very little happens throughout the novel, with Holden aimlessly walking the streets of New York after having been kicked out of school. However, this lack of plot is really rather irrelevant. What makes The Catcher in the Rye so tantalising is Salinger’s beautiful account of angst, isolation and depression. He perfectly captures a voice that sees so much futility in our ever-turning Earth that you can’t help but see the ‘phonies’ in the world that Holden despises at after reading the novel.
It was this book that taught me the power of literature. Even though five years have passed since first reading it, I can still say a little piece of Salinger’s presence still exists inside of me as a result.
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