Friday, August 27, 2010

Top ten books you were forced to read in school

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's perennial middle-school novel To Kill a Mockingbird, TIME magazine came up with a list of the top ten books you were forced to read in school.

One title on the list:
The Catcher in the Rye

Published in 1951, Catcher has long been a literary touchstone for alienated high school students. Main character Holden Caulfield is the ultimate whiner — everyone's a phony, everyone's a crumbum, and the only person who is really worth a damn is his little sister. Because Catcher is a fairly glum tale about a screwup of a kid who may be going crazy following the death of his brother, it's really easy to forget that it's kind of the ultimate high school fantasy — Holden roams around New York City for a couple of days, gets into bars, dances with older women and gets beaten up while trying to procure a lady of ill repute. While it may seem like the boy is just drifting, that sounds like living! For those very reasons, though, many of today's teens are having trouble relating to the book, according to a June 2009 New York Times article. "I can't really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City," said one teacher, paraphrasing some of her students. But despite the generational gap, this book won't be leaving classrooms anytime soon.
Read about another book on the list.

The Catcher In The Rye
appears on Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, Dan Rhodes' top ten list of short books, and Sarah Ebner's top 25 list of boarding school books; it is one of Sophie Thompson's six best books. Upon rereading, the novel disappointed Khaled Hosseini, Mary Gordon, and Laura Lippman.

--Marshal Zeringue