In our November reading group we had two new members, this is on top of two new members last month as well so we are really happy with how the group is developing. The two newest members are coming to the group from very different places in terms of their reading: one is an experienced reader interested in reading new things and having a chance to get together and talk about books, whereas the other said that he has never read much, but he is looking forward to getting into reading through the book group.
There was a lot of lively discussion about The Catcher in the Rye, encompassing the main character, the way it was written and how place-specific the text is. A few members of the group had read the book as teenagers, and one talked about how different it is to re-read a book like this. One reader felt he had identified with it a lot more when he was younger, and though he could still see bits of himself in Holden Caulfield, he no longer identifies with him as much. “I was like him, I was a punk.”
There was a good debate around whether Catcher deserves its status as a literary classic. Another group member argued that it does, as it feels contemporary despite being published in 1951. “I identified with him [Holden] a lot when I was younger, I still do to be honest.” He also said that he felt like re-reading the book now made him realise that Holden is unwilling to compromise with anyone, as he has strongly held beliefs and expects people to understand and go along with his way of thinking. “It is only now that I am older that I have started to see the need to compromise … it’s not exactly that it used to be my way or the high way… but kind of.” Coming back to the book, he said, helped him see that you need to compromise with people, and that relationships involve two people who are willing to find common ground.