The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I wouldn’t be exaggerating by saying how famous this book is within the world of Literature, regardless of its age. I don’t remember how I came to know of this book but I spontaneously decided to read it at the beginning of my summer vacation. Luckily I found a copy at the Virgin Megastore branch in the airport.

Aside from the striking cover of what seems to be a demon possessed horse clad in red (it is actually one of the horses found on a merry go round which is brought up later in the book.) Another feature struck me. No blurb.

Look at that bold horse
My copy of The Catcher in the Rye.

“Ah, shit.”

This is a very personal preference of mine. I appreciate a good blurb to help me make a proper decision. If there is no blurb, I will most probably buy the book based on my judgement of the cover and whatever I have heard about the book. Only recently did I start tackling blurb-less books by noting down the book’s title and then searching for the blurb or reviews. However the thought didn’t cross my mind back when I was at the airport. Airports make me anxious. So along with five other books (with blurbs) I bought The Catcher in the Rye.

Even after buying the book I still went out looking for a blurb without spoilers.

The Catcher in the Rye is a timeless tale of a teenager struggling with society and himself. Holden Caulfield is a teenager who hates his own life. He believes that every single person in the world is phony. One day, he decides to leave school. His life changes when he decides to go to New York for three days.-Vivid Skies, Yahoo answers.

A relatively simple plot compared to some books I have read in the past. I did feel an ounce of disappointment but it was completely washed away by the time I reached the third chapter.

The author’s writing style, the protagonist, and how the plot unfolded are the three main aspects of this novel that captivated my attention until the last page. The novel’s content is rich in irony, sarcasm, and insights into the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings. The book deals with themes of sexuality, premarital sex, hypocrisy, and the internal battle of finding a path in life while indulging the readers with scenes of drollery and flashbacks.

I honestly feel that the image of New York is dramatically changed in this book. I have never been to New York so my thoughts of The Big Apple ranges from “making it big” to the glorification of the life of a struggling artist living in a run down apartment hoping to make his or her dreams come true. The novel adds a whole new perspective of New York: a harsh cold place filled with “phonies” (I’m sure there are decent people too).

Overall, this novel is a remarkable piece of literature and I hope you give it a chance if you ever see it on one of the shelves at your local bookstore.

Daniel Dalton wrote the article 36 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “The Catcher in the Rye” to commemorate the author’s 63rd birthday. I wanted to share it specifically for those who have already read the book since the article contains a few spoilers.



Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

I’m glad I didn’t put this book down.

It was during a book sale I found this book, around the last few weeks of spring semester 2014. Its unusual title certainly caught my attention: “Stealing” printed in yellow, “Buddha’s” screamed out in blue and pink, and “Dinner” printed in stark white. Such a colorful arrangement hovering over the picture of child.

My copy.
My copy of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner.

“So cheerful looking, maybe it’s a happy story.”

Never judge a book by its cover.

The author tells her story of how her and her family migrated to America to escape the perils of 1975, Saigon, Vietnam. The story is creatively divided into chapters using American dishes and snacks as titles. At first, I found this amusing  but as I progressed, me feeling shallow amusement sort of took a hike and was in a sort of awe by the end of it to be honest . Such an arrangement certainly makes the book more lighthearted since bold themes such as war, interracial marriage,cultural clashes immigrants face in a new country,and religion can be found within context.

“This story resonates with anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.”-San Francisco Chronicle

This is not an exaggeration. Although my family and I migrated to where we are now  is not as of a drastic experience as the author’s, that experience definitely helped me build an even stronger emotional attachment to this book. The change in diet, the “childish” need to try to be like everyone else, that undeniable envy from time to time, the loss or gain of a language are just a few points but it is all there.

But with time these feelings are pushed aside as you build your personality, mold yourself into the person you aspire to be. However, there will always be that feeling of not belonging. The author didn’t fail to leave that out.

The book is written with an easy-going style that I appreciate. One thing that gets me annoyed is reading a paragraph and not understanding what the hell is going on–and then I read it again–and it leads to this moment, “Oh, how didn’t I get that?!”

Personally, I am fond of memoirs. This one is certainly one of my favorites. I wonder if anyone else share’s such similar feelings.

Here is a link to the book’s blurb from goodreads: Blurb