The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

the catcher in the rye

 

I first read this book in September, 2015. It’s been almost two years since I last read this book.
Like so many of other readers, I initially HATED this book. There was seriously NOTHING I could identify myself with, and my Goodreads review back then goes like this:

Quite honestly, I’m not even sure what to make of this – in the beginning, until I reached almost the half of the book, I was kind of mad at Holden because- I swear – there was NOTHING I could relate to him; I neither got to understood his feelings nor felt like trying to see things from his angle.
Yet, when I was past 70 percent of the book, the closer it got to the end, the less disturbed and disgusted I became.
Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like this book, I wouldn’t mind it as much as I did in the beginning.
I may even go back to this book sometime later in my life, who knows I won’t?

I had thought that I would hate this book as much as I did the last time, but quite surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this reread.

First and foremost, his narration didn’t bother me as much; I clearly remember feeling frustrated and irritated by his insolent attitude as though he was making fun of everything, but with this reread, I was curious – the entire time – to know why he acts the way he does, I wanted to pin down where his sarcastic, sort of jaded perspectives come from.

The narrator of this book and the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, basically lashes out at everything, literally EVERYTHING. Once he finds something that he doesn’t like, he knocks it right off the bat and nothing escapes his cynical, sarcastic eyes.
At the same time, however, he is sensitive and vulnerable; even the smallest of things can trigger his mood swings and his emotions and feelings fluctuate by the second. One moment he despises everything he sees, but the next minute something tugs his heartstrings and he becomes quite compassionate and appreciative.
I think this second-by-second emotional fluctuation comes from his observant nature and is well reflected in somewhat desultory narration. We get to see how his mood swings and how depressed he gets through his soliloquy, but the author stops short of revealing Holden’s true emotions and the reasons of his actions until we are well into the book. All I got to have up until that point was Holden’s inexplicable, pent-up frustrations and angst the source of which I can’t put my fingers on. Some of you may find this rather frustrating, but that actually worked well for me and made me power through this book.

Like I said earlier, the writing reflects his vacillating emotions and his seemingly stuck-up nature really well. He has a very distinct voice and his perspectives may come across off-putting at first, but as I went deeper into the book, his compassionate, soft nature gradually came into view. I even find him far from apathetic or indifferent. Rather, I assume he is incredibly honest and doesn’t want to do anything at a surface level; if he does do something, he wants to put his mind to it. That is where his aversion to phoniness comes from and it was masterfully narrated. Believe it or not, I was impressed by the writing. I was so invested in Holden’s character this time.

Although I still don’t know where his angst and undirected emotions stem from, I thought what he fears the most was ‘change’ or ‘growth.’
Whenever he observes others acting differently than before, he feels depressed and lonely. While he wants them to stay the way they used to be, they rapidly go through their transitional phase from childhood and adulthood.
He doesn’t want to grow up but he needs to grow up. Such ambivalent, conflicting emotions and the fear of failing to catch up with others torments him and drives him to his impulsive itinerant actions.
I might be wrong, but that’s how I viewed him.

Again, there are so many things that I still can’t put my finger on as to Holden’s emotional process, but his desperate attempts to sate his emotional starvation was acutely felt this time.

“I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”

Sadly, however, it was up to this point I really enjoyed reading this book.
This sequence, where Holden decides to go back to his house and sneak into Phoebe’s room was a watershed moment for me both in a good way and a bad way.
The dialogue that Holden has with Phoebe was pretty eye-opening and enlightening. Phoebe’s character setting is just wonderful. She is smart as a tack for a 10-year-old, I personally found Phoebe much more mature than Holden. A simple sentence, just one single sentence she mentions here cuts right through the truth and takes Holden by surprise; triggered by her question, Holden starts to gush about the reason why he detests phoniness with his own words and this is where I felt that I partially understood Holden.
I thought I would end up liking this book much better than the last time, but then again, there comes another twist and I was yanked back to the square one – another litany of rambling which I felt kind of sorry given the incident he went through but I felt my interest rapidly withering away. The ensuing 20 pages until the end felt pretty tedious and drag if you want to know the truth. 

The ending is kind of hopeful, it does end on a positive note. However, I still felt the ending a bit anticlimactic, or rather, it still leaves a lot of unanswered questions for me, it’s almost akin to indigestion and I was kind of sad about not being able to say ‘I loved it!’ with this reread. Since I was enjoying this book until pretty close to the end, I really wish I could say that I come to love this book.

That said, I am glad that I got to better appreciate this book than the last time.
Apart from the ending, I really enjoyed reading this and I thought it is well-written and gripping.
It definitely has a strong first half and I see the value in it. Only for that, I think I can raise my rating exponentially from 2 stars to 3.5 stars.

If you go into this book knowing what kind of character Holden is in advance, you might not be put off by it as much.
I put my much delightful reread down to having built up a stronger threshold for Holden.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

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1984 (Signet Classics)

 

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.


※ The following contains some spoilers.

First and foremost, it was so much fun reading this book; it was a great reading experience and I really enjoyed it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The draw and gravity that this book possesses were so strong; this is such an immersive read that I just couldn’t put it down once I picked it up last Friday intending only for a brief skimming.

At first, I was a bit nervous if I’d get to wrap my mind around this dystopian novel. As is the case with reading fantasy books which has got a lot of world settings/ world building , I was not quite sure if I was ready to tackle this dystopian world and policies and everything.
However, it ended up a needless fear; the ideology of the world was easy enough to follow and well spelled out. The more I got to knew about the world, the more captivated I was.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous and magnificent. It was simply enchanting. But I would say what really grabbed me was the ideology of The Party and what coercion and duress – in particular, ‘fear’ – can do to you. I also found it an interesting idea to continuously wage a war to use up the surplus generated from production so as not to raise the general standard of living. So long as the general population, particularly the mass categorized as ‘the proles’ which accounts for 85% of the total population, are left in constant poverty, they wouldn’t conceive any intellectual or independent idea which conflicts The Party’s ideology and policies.
It also struck me that the proles, a class where I’d be most likely to belong to if I were to put in this world, are treated as though they were animals or some kind of mindless disposable machines or expendables. They’re regarded as just a mere labor force, not worthy of education. This aspect disturbed me quite a bit.

The world in which Winston lives is simply unimaginable and bleak; people are put under a constant surveillance with telescreens which can also pick up even the smallest, subtlest hints/noise such as palpitations and neurotic eye movements in the flicker of a moment. They literally and invariably need to watch their deeds and words even in their sleep. History, past, even facts are subject to constant modifications and amendments to make it look like The Party has, and always will be correct and the government itself is in fact in charge of the tasks.
People are also hand-fed all the information that they need to know by the government and nothing else is allowed to enter one’s mind. Once discovered, one’s future is doomed – one will be on the road to vaporization and death at the exact moment one has committed the first-degree crime.

Now, I am not a kind of reader to superimposes or reflects my own world onto this dystopian world which is rigidly regimented with an ironclad system, but I still find it rather disturbing.  In particular, the fear what Winston experienced in Room 101 was just beyond imagination; the description of it literally blew me out of the water. It was spectacularly described and was hard-hitting – you definitely should read it. It was simply fantastic. 

Compared to ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ which I read two months ago and is another highly-acclaimed dystopian novel, I personally think this 1984 hit home for me way closer because of the element of ‘fear’ being described more in detail. It is really descriptive and feels realistic; it almost made me believe something like this could be actually happening in this world I’m living in. I absolutely loved it.

The ending, the very last sentence left me in awe, in a weird sense. I was a bit overwhelmed by the power of brainwash and what the ruling organizations/ powers can do to you. My gosh, I wouldn’t want to go through that!!

This is an amazing, captivating read although there are scenes that I felt a bit redundant somewhere in the latter half.
None the less, this is THE BOOK all readers should pick up at least once in a lifetime.
I will definitely come back to this book. I am certain of it.

Out-of-Control Book Haul

I went on a book-buying frenzy the other day.

Well, it’s technically a couple of weeks ago when I bought them, but as I bought all of them from Book Depository, it was just last week that I got a package from them.

Now, take a look at how big the package is;

big package

This is undeniably the biggest package that I have ever received from them, but it’s a small wonder- I bought as many as 18 BOOKS in one go; all Classic books including some Modern Classics.

Since there are so many, I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of them to share with you guys, but let me just put the pic that I took and posted on Instagram last night to celebrate World Penguin Day.

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Needless to say, this pic doesn’t cover everything so I’ll put the titles instead to walk you through all the titles I got from this out-of-control book haul.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee (Vintage Classics Edition)
  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute 
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen 
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell 
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James 
  • Howards End by E.M. Forster 
  • Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I didn’t even realize that I actually did, but no sooner had I opened the package than I realized that I had ordered two copies of Catch-22 (Silly me!)so I tweeted if any of my friends would be interested to read it and then one of my Twitter friend said she would, so I decided to send it to her by the time she comes back to Japan at the end of July. Yikes lol

Although Lolita was not initially included in the list, I found it’s going to be one of the May group reads for a Goodreads Book club that I belong to, I decided to add it to my list. I have never read Lolita before and I am super excited to read it along with my book club members 🙂

Upon buying so many books in one go, I had decided to rein in book buying for the next few months; I’ve obviously bitten off more than I can chew, there are way too many books to read.
However, I flip-flopped my mind already- reading Nevil Shute On the Beach made me his fangirl and I wanted to read more of him. So, I ended up buying Most Secret which I could expect to get in the next few days along with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood which I haven’t read yet but has been all over the Book community.

I will definitely give you guys an update once I receive them!

Thanks for reading guys and I hope you have a wonderful reading week!

On the Beach by Nevil Shute

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On the Beach

 

It’s been a few days since I finished this book yet I still don’t know how to articulate my thoughts on this book. This book took me by surprise on many levels; I wasn’t expecting that I would be moved and be on the verge of tears by this post-apocalyptic novel. Yet the latter half, particularly the last chapter cannot be read without a poignant, heart-wrenching grief over the recognition “the world is going to end.”
It was such a blow to me.

I wasn’t quite sure where I was standing in the story at the beginning; I didn’t quite understand what was going on in the story, say, the war situation and everything; who started the war and who actually dropped the cobalt bomb – the very culprit of the consequence the people in this story will have to bear – there was a lot to take in and it kind of stumped me in the beginning. As per usual, I had to do a lot of tabbing and taking notes to help myself keep track of the story.

Mind you -there is not much going on in the first half. There are, at times, some hard-hitting moments and heart-wrenching revelations that hint the grim future that awaits the people in the Southern Hemisphere, but I must say what you will find in the first half are just descriptions of the banality of everyday life.  If you expect a frantic, chaotic situation and a lot of panic-induced incidents happening in the story, you might be a bit disappointed because there’s hardly ANY.
That said, the bleak recognition and realization gradually yet steadily creeps in as you get into the latter half and I think that’s where the story gets riveting.
Even at this point, where the Australians try to come to terms with the grim promise of the future – their doomsday – they don’t go panicky nor become reckless.
They just calmly face their fate and keep living their lives as they used to. Some may still find it hard to come to grips with, they just refuse to believe their life is going to end in the next six months, but some do accept their inevitable death without flinching, and they even prepare themselves for ‘the time.’  This is what struck me the hardest.

The writing is generally calm and collected throughout, there are hardly any over-the-top, exaggerated descriptions. Rather, I felt the author chose to put the simple facts without attaching any emotions to them, laying them out throughout the book and letting the readers and the characters take them in.
That’s actually what heightened the poignancy for me. By dedicating the first half to showcasing what their normal life is like, the stark contrast of the hopeless, sobering future is effectively highlighted; as the lethal fallout from the cobalt bomb drifts towards the Southern Hemisphere, the despairing outlook slowly crawls not only into the characters mind but also the readers’ mind and what slim glimmer of hope they have is stubbed out like a cigarette.  I thought it was really well done.

Although I didn’t get to emotionally connect to any of the characters, I enjoyed this story immensely. I think this is definitely plot-driven, not character-driven but I think this will please many readers who usually go to character-driven stories as well because the plot is amazingly well-crafted. I liked it so much.

This book is not your average apocalyptic novel, it’s not like your average hooks-you-on-adrenaline type of book with lots of exciting, thrilling twists. But it will definitely make you THINK about what you would do when you faced the end of your life, on your last day on earth. I highly recommend this.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Lord of the Flies

I have no words to describe this book; simply stunning, incredibly disturbing yet it was such a delight to read.

This book had been on my radar for quite some time and I had been meaning to read it and then I got sent this by my Twitter friend who said she wanted to hear my thoughts on this, so here you go;

I must admit the litany of descriptions of the island held me up a little bit. I had to reread the same part over and over in an attempt to visualize what the island looks like and what paths the characters are taking, etc, etc… it got me stumped. That said, the writing is absolutely gorgeous and the plot is magnificent – incredibly dark and heavy, it made me feel sick in the stomach. I cannot say anything but AMAZING.

What I found quite disturbing and jarring was Jack’s transformation from a boy to nothing but a bloodthirsty savage; he is gradually stripped away from his rationality and fair judgement, and gets obsessed with hunting and even becomes capable of a horrific murder – it literally sent chills down my spine. So unnerving, so spine-chilling.

You may find the first half is kind of slow at first but the latter half is definitely a page-turner. I loved how the creepiness begins to crawl into every sentence and each scene and how the descriptions get more and more graphic as the story moves on. The jolt definitely comes in the latter half and it only gets intensified from there.

The cast of characters and the dynamics are just brilliant. In my personal opinion, the main two characters, Ralph and Jack are at the opposites end of the spectrum; Ralph represents rationality and order while Jack savagery and feral instinct and I found it really well done, simply stunning.
The power struggle happens in the latter half is also gripping, too. Despite Ralph’s attempt to bring order to the group and hold everyone together again, the small society crumbles and the assembly ends up a complete flop; Jack starts to gain ground and eventually assumes power – he literally reigns  as an invincible sovereign in the uninhibited island with the charismatic authority. This gradual power transfer is written so perfectly, it’s just glorious and riveting.

The last four chapters may be too graphic and horrific to read; I actually had to put it down so many times and take a breather to calm down. My heart was beating so fast that I thought I could hear my heart was bumping against my rib cage.

Could this really happen to kids, or us were we left to our own devices with no adult supervision or intervention?
Could our mind really be grawed at and overtaken by our own inherit feral instinct?

Such idea like those made me think, really THINK.
I honestly don’t want to admit it, I really want to refuse, but I also know it CAN happen and that’s what I found the most horrendous.

Nevertheless, I can also say that’s where things start to happen and the plot becomes intense and captivating. It’s gory, yes, but it’s like watching a horror movie between your fingers – you cannot stand the goriness but you want to see how things unfold.  That’s what happened to me.

Like I mentioned, I did struggle to grasp the story and took me some time to get into the flow, but I am now glad that I made it to the end.
Since the writing is rather graphic, this is definitely not for the faint of heart, this is not for everyone, but I think this story will stick with me and I’m sure I’ll come back to this at least more than once. I quite enjoyed it.

Crazy Book Haul Part 2

Hello, all!
Since the books that I mentioned in my Crazy Classic Book Haul have finally arrived, I’m going to do my Crazy Book Haul Part 2 as I promised.
It’s supposed to be my Crazy Classic Book Haul Part 2, but I’ve decided to lump them up with some other books I got in the last couple of weeks.

The books that I got are:

books

(From top left to bottom right)

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark
  • The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Middlemarch by George Elliot

 

I remember pre-ordering The Hate U Give at the end of last year. It wasn’t like I had my eye on this book but I happened to bump into this book while I was browsing Amazon and the premise caught my eye. I immediately decided to get this book because I thought it would be important to read books like this given the time and the world we live in.
Right now, I’m on a huge Classic kick so I haven’t gotten around to actually reading this, but hopefully I can read this in the coming months.

The Comforters and The Man Who Loved Children are what I got after watching one of my favorite Booktubers, Mementomori video. He vehemently gushed about how much he loved these books and how, without fail, Muriel Spark has hit his comfort button.
Having heard the premise, I decided to give them a try and am looking forward to find out whether these babies will measure up to my expectations 🙂

Although I haven’t even read his latest novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, that came out two months ago, I was itching to read this short story collection, Tenth of December first.
Reading thick books or full novels does take a lot of time and commitment and that’s the beauty of reading for sure, yet whenever I get busy, I tend to get more inclined to read slim books or novellas that I can fly through in no time and that’s how this book fell into my lap.

As for The Nightwalker, I simply fell in love the synopsis. Crime thrillers involving insomnia and night-walking sounds so intriguing and spine-chilling and I just wanted to read this. I’m pretty certain that I’ll get to this book one of these days.

 

Now, with regards to Classic books that I got… I have no idea what had gotten into me, I simply don’t.
All I can say is that I had gotten bitten by a massive Classic bug and just couldn’t resist to get those pretty Penguin English Library editions.
Most of the books that I got over there are from watching Lucythereader videos. As I mentioned in my previous haul post, I know absolutely NOTHING about the synopsis. I don’t even know if my English skills are good enough to read these books.
I may well hit a huge setback in reading them, which is likely the case as a matter of fact,  but I hope that I get to enjoy them all.

 

That’s it, we’ve made it. Those are the books that I got just within the last couple of weeks.
I’ve completely forgotten how many books I actually bought and am quite surprised at the number.

Have you done a book haul recently? If you have, what kind of books did you get?
Whatever the case, thank you for reading guys and happy reading!

Crazy Classic Book Haul! – Part 1

Heavily influenced by BookTubers’ videos, such as Mementomori and lucythereader, I found myself going on a big Classic book haul…

Honestly, I’ve lost count exactly how many books I got in the last couple of weeks, but I thought I’d share some of them with you guys, so here we go 🙂

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From top left to bottom right:

  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • A Room With a View by E.M. Foster

Now, let me tell you – I have never been a Classics type of reader. I hardly read any Classics or Modern Classics in my entire life.
I have watched the movie adaptations of ‘A Room With a View’ and ‘Clockwork Orange,’ but I have never read the books.
As for William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy, I haven’t even heard of them before… where have I been??! That sounds crazy. I’m even ashamed of myself XD

However, the BookTubers’ videos that I talked about earlier made me kind of intrigued to branch out my reading taste into the realm of Classics (including Modern Classics). So, in a bid to right this embarrassing situation, I decided to go on a big Classic spree and bought them. I know almost NOTHING about their synopsis though…

I’ve only read Fahrenheit 451 and am still muddling through Crime and Punishment, but I am so excited to read them all. Particularly, I am so pumped to read A Clockwork Orange. The movie left such a big impact on me, giving me a sort of distorted, disorienting feelings, I am really curious to see if the book has the same vibe to it.

Next we have Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and Jane Eyre by  Charlotte Brontë.
Yes, the Brontës.

Brontes

Again, I have never read any of their books even the translated versions, but I am all up for giving them a try because I’ve heard a lot of good things about them!

In my Reading Habits Tag post, I told you that I now can handle maximum two books at once, but speaking from my meager experience with reading Crime and Punishment (you guys surely know how beefy the book is),  I think such tomes should be given my undivided attention. Otherwise, I’d completely forget how the story and dialogues between characters go.

Anyways, this is the part 1 of my crazy Classic book haul!
I’m still expecting the other half of the books to arrive and it’s most likely to take another week or so, I’ll wrap this up here.
I’ll definitely give you an update once my books have arrived!

If you have any recommendations on what Classic books I should try, definitely let me know!
Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you guys again soon! 😀