Posted by: Patrice Fitzgerald | November 10, 2010

Great Books We All Should Read

Okay, so this morning I just finished reading Catcher in the Rye.  Unbelievable, right?  You would have thought I’da been assigned it in high school.  And though I wasn’t… most of my friends were… and geez, what kind of a phony English major was I if I hadn’t read old J.D.’s masterpiece?  He was such a sexy bastard.  He kills me.

In fact, I thought I had read it, years ago.  It was a shock to me to realize that I must have stopped somewhere along the way.  Actually, I can remember brother Rob (3 years older) having that book lying around when he was in maybe 10th grade.  Which would have made me a 7th grader.  And I know that I picked it up then, being both precocious and a slightly obnoxious little sister… I was always reading his texts.  But it was too old for me at the time, and I didn’t really get it.

And then I got into 10th or 11th grade, and started reading it when the kids in the other English class did, and loved it.  But apparently I never finished it! Which I discovered to my great surprise when I got to the end this morning.  And it’s not as though it takes a lot of time to read!

In fact, I was describing the part I remembered to my husband this morning… from reading it in high school, which I clearly did not… and the part I “remembered” doesn’t even show up in Catcher in the Rye.  I’m wondering if I remember it from Portnoy’s Complaint… another tale of adolescent angst.  (I recollected a nonexistent scene where our young man protagonist takes pity on a plump waitress and asks her out, only to discover that she’s married.  My hubby remembered an actual scene where one of Holden Caulfield’s dates puts on a short skating skirt and shakes her cute little ass — Holden’s words, not my husband’s — in front of the narrator.)  Points to Richard.

More than that, I remember landing not once but twice in one of those “go to your daughter’s class” days at MPS where they were discussing Catcher, and I learned that Holden had lost a sibling, and wondered how I could possibly have forgotten that.  Because I guess I never knew it, though it’s described really early in the book.  It boggles the mind.

But Catcher in the Rye isn’t the only book that I, a proud reader, writer, and English major, have mistakenly thought I read.  The other major tome was The Great Gatsby!  By my namesake (no relation).  I read part of it in high school, but apparently never finished it.  I picked it up again about 10 years ago — oh this old thing, everyone’s read that, old boy — and discovered to my amazement that I didn’t even know the plot!

Okay, the great thing about this is that you get to read some spectacular books that you’ve been hearing about for years and find out what they’re really all about — and both these novels have cool happenings as well as great writing, and so are very neat to read as an adult and discover for the first time.  The bad thing is that it’s kinda embarrassing.

But every other great book out there that we all should read that I remember I’ve read I have actually read.

I think.

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