Tom Quinn's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
31467977
's review

it was amazing

This is the best book I've ever read.

It keeps me out of trouble.

I first read it in high school, senior year AP Lit. We read it alongside Kafka's The Metamorphosis and had engaging discussions about what the hell was going on (in the books and in life itself), culminating in a detailed "compare and contrast" essay.

I read it again on my own the next year, my freshman year at college, just for fun.

I read it a third time my junior year, and actually recited a section as a dramatic reading in my Oral Comm class.

I read it again shortly before graduating, then again shortly after landing my first job as an English teacher, then I bought a copy for my classroom library in case some precocious student wanted to pick it up on their own.

I read it twice more after moving to a new state, once cover to cover and once again in semi-random excerpts, starting with whatever page I happened to thumb to.

I read it as my 52nd book of 2016, the last one to complete my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge. What can I say? More than 60 years after publication and it hasn't lost any of its charm, or its poignancy, or its power. More than any other book, this one has shaped my worldview. I love the wordplay, how perfectly beauracracy is skewered and mocked, how relentlessly logical thinking leads to illogical ends. I love how it makes you stop and think and appreciate, how it reminds us of the fleeting nature of life and of the value of living. I love how it encourages us to question everything: authority, beauracracy, faith, government, society. Just who the hell is in charge, and what the hell are they doing, and where the hell do I fit in? I love the ending, the final masterful decision Yossarian makes to stop being a pawn and make himself a king -- more than that, to leave the game and its arbitrary rules altogether.

I love this book.

So, I will read it again, and this review will get a little longer, and I will always affirm:

This is the best book I have ever read.

It keeps me out of trouble.
52 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Catch-22.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

May 26, 2014 – Shelved
September 15, 2016 – Started Reading
September 28, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Alex Interesting pairing there, with Metamorphosis. Disempowerment? "You are being screwed over by forces beyond your control or understanding"?


message 2: by Tom (last edited Sep 16, 2016 01:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Alex wrote: "Interesting pairing there, with Metamorphosis. Disempowerment? "You are being screwed over by forces beyond your control or understanding"?"

I'm pretty sure it was intended as a mini-unit on Absurdism. Much of our reading list for that class was just throwing famous books at us in case they showed up on the AP exam at the end of the year.

Also, this book led to the eye-opening highlight of the whole year when a classmate gleefully marched in one day and declared -- "'Scheisskopf' means 'Shit-head!'"


Steve Great tribute to a wonderful book, Tom! But I wonder if next time you might prefer to read its sequel, Catch 23? (Sorry)


message 4: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Steve wrote: "Great tribute to a wonderful book, Tom! But I wonder if next time you might prefer to read its sequel, Catch 23? (Sorry)"

The series really takes off in the fourth installment, C4TCH, featuring Vin Diesel.


Steve Hahahaha! You get 4 ha's for that one.


message 6: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick I think my record with this book is 4 times back to back. Nice to know I am not alone in my response to it.
FWIW as a teacher you are considered a first line bureaucrat. Not only am I also in public service, but I had a degree in it.
And yes there are still passages I can recite from memory. - An feel the need for


Paul Dembina The new TV series has prompted me to go for my (mere) 3rd reading


message 8: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick there is a tv series?


Paul Dembina Catch-22 review – George Clooney's dizzying, daring triumph

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-ra...


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Dembina Not sure if that link is OK or not


message 11: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Aa its a Hulu movie, no idea if an when I will get to see this version. FWIW I very much liked the first movie.

speaking of which
I get why there is such a focus on bureaucracy. I wonder how it is that folks seem to miss that the villain of the piece is Milo Minder binder, who is not so much evil as he is lost to the profit drive. The Bureaucrats may be inept, but the commercial world is blindly corrupt, and corrupting.


message 12: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl I'm missing something. *How* does this book keep you out of trouble?


Tyler V. I adore it too. I’ve read it maybe 2 or 3 times since high school. The hardest part is picking which part is my favorite.


message 14: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Steve wrote: "Great tribute to a wonderful book, Tom! But I wonder if next time you might prefer to read its sequel, Catch 23? (Sorry)"

There is a squeal, of sorts:
Closing Time

I do not remember it as being esp good. J. Heller has a number of other titles. None caught fire the way Catch 22 did. Perhaps justly so. I have read most of his stuff, but I suspect only because I liked C22.
Some one has written a Catch 23, about it I know nothing more.


message 15: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Paul wrote: "The new TV series has prompted me to go for my (mere) 3rd reading"

Indeed, that's why I revisited this again this year. I have very mixed feelings about Hulu's miniseries (I'm halfway through at the moment). They seem to have gotten the broad strokes of the themes right, but enough was changed from the book to bother me. It's a decent adaptation, and as a standalone work it's good, but not especially nuanced.


message 16: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Cheryl wrote: "I'm missing something. *How* does this book keep you out of trouble?"

Mostly by keeping me skeptical enough to think before I act. Usually. Sometimes.


message 17: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Phrodrick wrote: "Closing Time I do not remember as all that good. J. Heller wrote several other books and play - much of which I have read. Mostly because I liked C22. I do not think any of them made it big and maybe they should not. "

I agree - Closing Time was a disappointing follow-up. I've also read Picture This and plan on reading his other books but none of them pack the punch of Catch-22.


message 18: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick All this has me wondering if all here present have seen the 1970 version.
I am not sure another one is needed, but the scenes of the bombers are amazing, and I suspect lifted into the new version based on some of what I have seen the the trailer.

In 1970 computer animation could not do what actual pilots did with real WW II bombers. As I recall director Mike Nichols assembled one the the largest Air Forces on the planet to make the movie.
Consider screen play by Buck Henry anda cast from Alan Arkin to Bob Newhart, and Art Garfunckle Again, I am not sure what this version can do better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd3X_...

Please stay for the full 5 minutes the crash landing is superb flying



Umm ok again from the trailers, this cast looks younger.


message 19: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Thank you Tom. I can see that the book would help you with that. Sometimes.


message 20: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Quinn Phrodrick wrote: "All this has me wondering if all here present have seen the 1970 version.
I am not sure another one is needed, but the scenes of the bombers are amazing, and I suspect lifted into the new version b..."


I did, around 10 years ago. I remember it as faithful to the plot, but pretty low-energy.


dpcinh I have been reading this on and off since 1976. It is still as fresh as the first time that I read it.


back to top