J. D. Salinger passed away today at the age of 91. I would just like to take this post to say thanks for showing me the wonderful world of the novel.
I was never one for reading. I struggled with it throughout my elementary and high school years. I can remember being made fun of by other classmates in high school whenever I had to read out loud since I would stumble over the words... and once I stumbled, it would escalate, and soon I was flat on my face. Then the teacher would say, "Next." So I learned to be afraid of reading, and quickly learned that you can pass high school without really reading. Yep, I even did alright in English classes without reading the books. Scary. I did not do so well on half of the S.A.T.
When I was in college my older brother, for some reason or another, gave me a book to read... maybe he noticed that I never read anything. The book was Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote. Since Breakfast is actually a short story it was included with three (?) other stories. It was a very easy read and something I could finish... one story at a time. I recall it taking me a couple months to read (do mostly to my lack of attention span, not my lack of enjoyment), but I did it. I was very proud of myself.
The next book my brother gave me to read was J. D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye. A real book, a novel, and not a short story. Another easy read. I adored the story. I was quickly wrapped up, in, and around the antics of Holden Caufield. I read as much as I could every day, often re-reading parts since I clearly missed things on the first read. Then after a couple months I finished it. I had accomplished something I had never done before... I read a novel strictly for enjoyment purposes. I was well aware at the time that kids five years younger than me could read this book in a day, but that did not matter. I was proud, and I only wanted to read more.
To celebrate my accomplishment, years later I found, in good condition, an early edition of Catcher. I try to read it yearly, or even just pick it up and read a few pages now and then. My love of books and stories is bigger than my time for them, but I hope to one day be able to find the time. I still struggle with reading, but the more I read (and write) then better I get. I still often daydream a bit too much (usually when I am tired), but books seem to always be on my to-do list. I hope my love of books and LP's strong reading skills rub off on the munchkin since being a strong reader will take you far.
It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 9