So, before class today a student comes to me and asks if I know of any other books he could read that are “like Catcher.” So I asked what it was about Catcher that he liked, and he said something to the effect of “it’s realistic, and dark, and funny” or something like that.
Well, for someone with a memory like mine, that is a hard task. I’ve consumed a lot of media in my life, of all sorts, and I generally incorporate parts of these books, movies, music, and games into my brain, but rarely catalogue them by title or genre or author, or even into lists of preferred over non-preferred. They just go into the mix. Every once in a while I’m shocked or delighted to recognize an idea that I thought was my own while accidentally re-reading/viewing/listening to something I thought I had never seen before.
But in the past few years, I’ve become a cyborg. Since my organic brain can’t keep up with it all, now I use the internet as my memory database for that kind of information. For books, in particular, I use some resources on Amazon to supplement my own incomplete memory. The Catcher in the Rye page on Amazon has a lot of interesting connections to other books, particularly if you look at what other customers bought (mostly other high school “classics,” but a lot of good stuff, to be sure), as well as the Listmania lists at the very bottom of the page. One of the Listmania lists I liked in particular is this one: link. It’s got a great mix of edgy modern books, some classics, some easy reads, some tough (Lolita!), and books by and about women as well as men. (It could use a stronger African American and Latino contribution, but they got Zora Neale on there, which is worth plenty.)
Are these books like Catcher? Only in the sense that someone who liked Catcher–the tone, the subject matter, the reading level, whatever–liked these, too. Actually, the best thing about this list is how different these books all are–you might find yourself reading and interested in something that you never thought you would like, and then, hey presto, you’ve got a new “type” of book to start branching out from. While the connections between the books in these lists might not be immediately apparent, it’s a reasonable bet that if you liked Catcher, you’ll find something here to be interested in.
Anyway, whenever you like a particular book this is a good tool to spin off other titles that “people like you” like. (And yes, Carter, I am saying “people like you” with a sour look on my face.)