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10 Interesting Facts About The Catcher in the Rye

Posted by Cybil on September 01, 2017


This post is brought to you by Rebel in the Rye, in select theaters September 8.

J.D. Salinger and his masterpiece are studies in contrasts. Salinger wrote his only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, over the span of a decade and then found instant success when it was published. Once famous, the author quickly turned from the limelight, fleeing New York City and rarely speaking to reporters. The Catcher in the Rye is both one of the most-taught books in American high schools and also one of the most-banned classic novels in American schools.


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Salinger's story is about to come to the big screen with Rebel in the Rye, a film that looks at the influences that shaped the young writer, including his time on the frontlines of World War II. In light of this, we thought it was a good time to take a look at the author, and his most-famous work:

1. Rye was with him when he stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day.
Shane Salerno, the co-author of Salinger, told NPR, "That was something that stunned me. He carried these chapters with him almost as a talisman to keep him alive, and he worked on the book throughout the war."

2. J.D. Salinger published only one novel: The Catcher in the Rye.
The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and Salinger's other work consists of short stories and novellas—all of which were published before the mid-1960s. In 2013, a few years after Salinger's death, the alleged transcripts of three of his unpublished stories leaked online—despite the author's order that they be kept under lock and key for decades after his passing.

3. About 250,000 copies of The Catcher in the Rye are sold each year.
That's almost 685 copies a day. Since its publication, the novel has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. On Goodreads, the book has more than 2 million ratings and more than 45,000 reviews from readers.

4. The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most banned books in America.
In fact, it appears on the American Library Association's annual top ten most-banned books as recently as 2009 for offensive language and sexually explicit material, 66 years after its publication. It's also the second most-banned 'classic' book (after The Great Gatsby), according to the ALA.

5. The Catcher in the Rye is also one of the most taught books in America.
Between 1961 and 1982, Catcher was the most studied book in high schools. In 1981, the book was both the most frequently censored book in the United States, and, at the same time, the second-most frequently taught novel in American public schools.

6. The New York Times once declared that Millennials hate Holden Caulfield. In a 2009 article titled Get a Life, Holden Caulfield, the newspaper reported that kids thought the book's protagonist was "weird, whiny, and immature." The article ends with this kicker from a children's literature expert who was told by a 15-year-old boy, "Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, 'Shut up and take your Prozac.'"

7. The best-selling book has never been made into a movie.
"If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me," Holden Caulfield says in The Catcher in the Rye. And so far, Salinger's estate seems to be siding with Holden. Despite interest from moviemakers including Billy Wilder and Steven Spielberg, Salinger's estate (which controls his work since his death in 2010) has actively prevented any movie from being made of the classic.

8. Salinger was considered one of the most reclusive celebrities.
The author began withdrawing from public life after the publication and quick success of Catcher and led a very private life for the next half century. He also sued to keep a biographer from reprinting letters he sent to friends and fans, according to TIME. After once being hounded by a fan, he complained, "I'm a fiction writer! If I'd have known this was going to happen, I don't think I would have started writing."

9. The Catcher in the Rye has been a favorite of high-profile killers.
Mark David Chapman, the man who in 1980 murdered John Lennon, remained at the crime scene reading The Catcher in the Rye. In his statement to police, Chapman said, "I'm sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil." In 1989, Robert John Bardo was carrying a copy of the book the night he murdered actress Rebecca Schaeffer. John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, claimed to be fascinated with the book.

10. Salinger's former home in Cornish, New Hampshire, now houses cartoonists.
Salinger's remote cabin, where he retreated from fame, is now serving as home to a residency with the Centre for Cartoon Studies. In details about the residency, the house is described this way: The "secluded home is reached by traveling a mile and half down a winding dirt road. The one-bedroom apartment is equipped with a kitchen, studio, and claw foot tub."


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Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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message 1: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Interesting. "The Catcher in the Rye" is one of my favorite books of all time. Thanks for the info! :)


message 2: by Madison-chan (new)

Madison-chan None of this information is new except the last bit; lame article.


Beverly~ Lady B One of my top favourite books I have ever read. Bar none. ♡♡♡.


message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie Boyer This is one of my favorite books and these facts are so great!


message 5: by Breslin (new)

Breslin White This is very interesting publication information. Thank you.


DNF with Jack Mack Thanks for the warning. I'll be sure to tell others never to watch that. Stay pimp!


message 7: by John (new)

John Sadly cult status increased following John Lennon's murder by that person (sic)

Interesting as to why The Great Gatsby was / is on banned list,.


message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara Holden Caulfield DOES need prozac though...


message 9: by Thomas (new)

Thomas One of my first serious-business-adults-talking books I read as a kid, and probably my inspiration for anything written in first-person after that. It hasn't aged well, but it's a hell of an accomplishment at the time.


message 10: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby I've read it twice... in High School in 1982, and in College in 1987. Never found anything likable in it. I also agree with the kid from the article: Nobody in my HS class liked it.

Once overheard my American Lit teacher confide in another teacher that she wished they could stop teaching it because Caulfield is "such a whiny bitch"


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim Read it in high school, then again as a middle aged man. It was like reading two different books. Reading it with a more mature perspective completely changed the book.


message 12: by Kattia (new)

Kattia Mora Rivera I cannot believe such a highly regarded book remains unread in my shelf. That will change soon!


message 13: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Well, #9 should provide reason enough not to teach or read it anymore. :) And I would love to blame Salinger for no one seeming to know how to write in third person anymore.

A young friend is having to read this for school. He not only hates it, but he is annoyed that it's not available in Kindle. I thought he was wrong, but a quick search showed that none very little of Salinger's work in on Kindle. Wonder if that is an estate decision or a publisher one.


Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* Interesting trivia

I read as an adult and loved it.


message 15: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Hatton It's hard to imagine now what impact this book must have made in uptight 1950s McCarthyist America.
"Fact number 6" just shows how lazy and complacent "Millennials" are.


message 16: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pate I read this book every year. It is one of my all-time favorites. There's a pretty good documentary on Netflix that mentions some of these tidbits called "Salinger."


message 17: by Lia (new)

Lia  One This must be one of the most overrated books I've read.


message 18: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby Bruce wrote: "It's hard to imagine now what impact this book must have made in uptight 1950s McCarthyist America.
"Fact number 6" just shows how lazy and complacent "Millennials" are."


I'm not a millennial. Neither was anybody I went to school with, HS or College.


message 19: by Phil (new)

Phil Hill Catcher in the Rye one of the best books ever written. It defies time and will continue to influence or "piss off" readers as time moves on.


message 20: by Bill (new)

Bill Madison-chan wrote: "None of this information is new except the last bit; lame article."

Did anyone say it was?


message 21: by Jami (new)

Jami What I don't understand is how this book even got published let alone considered a classic. Holden is a spoiled rotten brat who needed a spanking and then be sent to military school. The writing was awful. It's about on par with Twilight and 50 Shades when you get right down to it.

I had read it on my own years ago, then later had to read it again high school. Asked my teacher why we had to read it since it was so awful. She replied, "Because every teenager can identify with Holden." My reply was, "I don't." She snapped at me, "Don't be stupid, of course you do."

No, no I didn't. All I thought the entire time is how stupid and bratty Holden was and how his parents needed to paddle his butt with an actual wooden paddle.


message 22: by Delia (new)

Delia Devin Good to know I share a favorite with some high-profile killers.

(This is obviously sarcastic)


message 23: by Anya (new)

Anya Jami wrote: "What I don't understand is how this book even got published let alone considered a classic. Holden is a spoiled rotten brat who needed a spanking and then be sent to military school. The writing wa..."

Thank you! I read the book back when I was 14 and remember thinking how awful and spoiled Holden was. Imagine my excitement to read it because it was supposed to be a relatable piece of literature (which was rare for a young Indian girl who'd mostly read British classics so far (small town, not a huge variety of books available)). I absolutely hated it.

Now, I can understand how shocking the book might have been in the conservative America of the 1950s but I honestly feel that it's overrated and not worthy of all the trumpeting that surrounds it.


message 24: by Janet (new)

Janet I think I need to reread this book.


message 25: by Nərmin (new)

Nərmin Lia wrote: "This must be one of the most overrated books I've read."
Agreed. I didn't even like it)


message 26: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Quist I chose this book for a paper I had to write in high school and regretted every minute of it. I loved a lot of the other books I read that year -- The Great Gatsby, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -- but this one just didn't do it for me. Couldn't even feel disgruntled with my teacher since I picked it, but I remember turning in a rather bitter paper.


message 27: by Sadia (new)

Sadia Afrin I found the Prozac comment in number 6 a bit troubling. Many had expressed opinion of Holden being whiny and entitled, but the emotional confusion and pain that he goes through is necessary in my opinion. By the end of the book he shows that he understands he needs to change, and his blunders were necessary to gain that insight. Simply taking Prozac and shutting off the world would not have helped him.


message 28: by ! (new)

! I saw this movie at the Sundance Film Festival in February! I thought it did a great job of portraying Salinger's personality and view of the world. Definitely gave an insight to Holden's character.


message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill Big spoiler alert.


You've been warned.


Ready?


I think Holden Caulfield is the biggest phoney in the whole book.
What I'm not sure of - and it would really change the book for me to know - is whether Salinger intended it that way.

It was initially my assumption that it was the author's intention that the narrator of the book be all the things he railed against, but later I heard suggestions that he really did consider Caulfield the hero of the piece.


message 30: by Mary (new)

Mary Langer Thompson Still love this book since I read it in the 60's. Loved Holden's adolescent voice, how he could spot a phoney, and his love for his little sister, Phoebe, who is not a phoney.


message 31: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby Mary wrote: "Still love this book since I read it in the 60's. Loved Holden's adolescent voice, how he could spot a phoney, and his love for his little sister, Phoebe, who is not a phoney."

Of course Caulfield could spot a phoney. in his eyes EVERYBODY was one. Except for his sister.


message 32: by Deb (new)

Deb Ramage I have always hated TCITR so I was happy to learn that millenials, a generation younger than my own kids, agree with me. It might be shorter, but I consider Franny and Zooey to be Salinger's only decent novel and by far and away his best work. It puzzles me that the same man could have written both of these, because they seem to evince completely opposite views of what has value and meaning in life.


message 33: by Donna (new)

Donna Lindsay Janet wrote: "I think I need to reread this book."

I am definitely going to reread this book. But I "lent" it to my granddaughter, and she hasn't given it back! Haha.


message 34: by Donna (new)

Donna Lindsay Ok, I am seriously wondering; on my bookshelf I have two books, "Franny and Zooey" and "Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters", both written by JD Salinger. Why does this article state that Catcher is the only novel written by this author? I purchased and read these books, after reading and loving Catcher, in the early 60's, my very impressionable years (early college student). Why no mention of these other books?


message 35: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby Donna wrote: "Ok, I am seriously wondering; on my bookshelf I have two books, "Franny and Zooey" and "Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters", both written by JD Salinger. Why does this article state that Catcher i..."

Most likely because the other two are collections of short stories, not novels.


message 36: by Donna (new)

Donna Lindsay no, they are not


message 37: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Roxby Donna wrote: "no, they are not"

Actually they are. Franny and Zooey is a short story published in a single volume, but that doesn't make it a novel. Ditto for Raise High the Roof Beam, it's a pair of novellas.


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