1951 – the catcher in the rye ~ j. d. salinger

It was a strange feeling that washed over me as I read J. D. Salinger’s American classic, The Catcher in the Rye for the very first time. It took me so long to even begin to understand what this elusive emotion could possibly be.

It was bitter regret. It was longing, tinged with something that looked a lot like shame.

But I loved Catcher in the Rye! How could a book I adored fill me with such an overwhelming sense of sadness?

The answer to this question took me a while to discover. And even now, it’s difficult to put into words. Nonetheless, let me try…

(But before I start, I should let you know: this review is a little on the spoilery side. I’m assuming I’m one of the last people in the world never to have read this novel. If you’re yet to enjoy Catcher in the Rye, I suggest you steer clear of this review until you’ve found a chance to read it…)

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1874 – far from the madding crowd ~ thomas hardy

If you’ve visited Book to the Future before, chances are, you’ll know exactly what’s going on. But if you’re new to this site, this post might take a little explaining…

So. It’s like this: I’m moving forwards in time, reading and reviewing one novel every week to represent every year from 1900 until the present day. However, at the conclusion of every decade, I read a book published before 1900 – just to make things more interesting. Take a look at the Table of Contents tab at the top of this page for some of my past choices.

(And by the way – if you’re new here, welcome!)

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Reading Thomas Hardy is just like an armchair, dragged from a stuffy room and into the afternoon sun.

For me, a Hardy novel is my own special kind of paradise. It’s comfortable, warm, and lovely. As I turn the pages, I can’t stop myself from smiling with joy. Given Hardy’s penchant for tragedy, this might seem somewhat perverse to the casual observer.

This is no mere literary crush, dear reader. This is love. I discovered Hardy when I was seventeen. Now, in my thirties, my feelings grow stronger with every Hardy novel I read. I consume Hardy’s novels slowly. I’m determined to space them out evenly over my life.

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1946 – zorba the greek ~ nikos kazantzakis

Reading Nikos Kazantzakis’ classic Zorba the Greek for the first time was like stumbling upon a canteen filled with fresh water after wandering, lost and thirsty in the desert for days.

My first impulse was to greedily devour the whole thing, to pour it over myself and revel in it without restraint. But, at the same, I know that once it’s gone, there won’t be any more.

It’s a special kind of painful ecstasy, reading a life-changing novel for the first time. With every page you turn, the looming terror of that final page grows stronger, more tangible.

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1945 – brideshead revisited ~ evelyn waugh

The past few books I’ve read have left me feeling much the same way I feel around three o’clock in the afternoon on Christmas Day; that time when, slumped in a feeble plastic chair on the back lawn of my parents’ house, my stomach bulging, I swear to everything I hold sacred that I will never eat again.

I’ve read some truly brilliant books lately. It’s just like having Christmas dinner every week. It’s great – but I’m left feeling overwhelmed, overindulged…as if I couldn’t possibly consider ever reading another book on my life.

I am bloated with books.

In fact, if this was the last novel I ever read, I think I’d actually be okay with that…

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