Last week, we read a fun article over at PWxyz entitled “We Fix the Top 100 Novels List,” wherein the Publisher’s Weekly staff sounded off on which novels they’d add to the Modern Library’s ubiquitous Top 100 — and which they’d take away. The article got us thinking about which novels we think are lauded entirely too much, whether by the press or the public at large. Now, keep in mind that this isn’t a list of bad books — it’s a list of good books that (to our minds) just seem to get more accolades than they deserve — and it is, and can only be, based on our humble opinion. Click through to read our list of terrifically, epidemically, perpetually overrated books, and add to (or subtract from) our picks in the comments.
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Whenever we tell people that we didn’t like The Cather in the Rye, they immediately demand, “Well, when did you read it?” The prevailing wisdom, after all, is that it’s one of those novels you have to read at the right time — that is, the pinnacle of your own self-pitying, frustration-filled adolescence — in order to really get its brilliance. Well, we tried at the right time, and still thought Holden was totally obnoxious (he is, after all, one of the most divisive characters in literary history), and we tried again later and came to the same conclusion. That doesn’t leave the book without merit of course, but it does beg the question: why do high schools (and young men) everywhere revere this tale of the wanderings of a bitter, privileged slacker so much? As South Park’s Kyle complained, it’s “just some whiny annoying teenager talking about how lame he is.”