Another bit of my ramblings on The Catcher in the Rye discussion:
Books are deemed classics for a lot of reason one of which is that they speak to the human condition and give us insight into ourselves and/or mankind in general.
Somewhere around puberty, we learn to think abstractly. Up until that point, we are limited by what we have experienced ourselves and we think that everyone experiences the same reality. Somewhere around the 7th grade we begin to read literature that is more abstract and opens our minds up to a different reality. We read books like Silas Marner , Great Expectations , An American Tragedy, Catcher in the Rye , and my favorite Of Human Bondage .
By reading books such as these, we learn more about the psychological and philosophical world we live in. We learn to understand what human nature contains and why people and countries act the way they do. Criminal profilers do not like the serial killers they interview, but they interview them to learn about why they do what they do.
We might not like the characters, the language, or the settings of these books and find them boring even, but that isn't why they are studied. We can change because of a book even if we don't like it. I think that is why they are classics.
I try to read a lot of classics because I think they improve my understanding of myself and others. When I come across a book that appears on most classics list and I don't like it and can't see the point, I feel sad. There are a lot of people out there who are learning wonderful things, and I can't get it. Lots of times I go on my library website to get the ebook copy of Cliff Notes or something similar to see if I can understand it. I still struggle with Toni Morrison or Salmon Rushdi, so every few years, I try them again. If all those people who are smarter and more well read than I am say that something is in this book that makes it a classic, I pretty much believe them, especially if the book has been around a long time. If Catcher in the Rye has been on the classics list for this long, it has value even if I may not enjoy reading it.
This is a really good discussion and I wish I could quote some of the other posts here, but I can't, but here is a link to the discussions:
The Catcher in the Rye