This. Goddamn it. THIS was what I was hoping for.
There seems to be a growing and yet infinite amount of "Best Book" lists (one maybe might want to use the term innumerable). An aggregate collection of those best-of-the-bests now contains hundreds of books—thousands when they are spread-grouped by genre/decade/language. J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey is on almost all of them and near the top of many.
When I walk into my favorite bookstore on the planet I head straight for the Gold Room where I begin browsing the Fantasy/Science Fiction shelves and then the Action/Suspense/Thriller sections before I cross the isle to take a gander at the Mysteries; if I'ven't (is a double contraction too many?) found enough to sate my brain for the coming weeks, I try the coffee shop and scan the graphic novels before walking down a few steps to the Blue Room in order to peruse the Small Press/Literature areas. Still not carrying enough? Green Room for New Release/Non-Fiction and then Sale Books.
The first reason I've avoided reading F&Z for so long is because it was in the Red Room (World Religion) or the Blue Room (Classic Literature). Also, I have a clear economic aversion against small books because I want my entertainment money to stretch and F&Z is only a four-hour book at best.
I've avoided reading F&Z for so long because when I was but twenty-one years old Mark Chapman became, overnight and forevermore, Mark David Chapman (one maybe might want to use the term with a bullet...but should immediately suppress that urge). Chapman caused me to read my first J.D. Salinger: Catcher in the Rye. At the time and in hindsight, I recognize my own scorn at my least common denominator pandering and (for more than the obvious reason) I wish I could, instead, say that I learned the metaphor of Holden Caulfield's dream after a smoky-eyed Yugoslavian college girlfriend recommended it. The truth is rarely so. But. I didn't identify with Caulfield, or his surroundings, or life, or outlook. Even a little bit. And I was a full-time art college student at the time.
Franny and Zooey is non-abstract, photo-realistic, character based, and the most tightly descriptive successful balancing...nay juggling act I have ever read. With the complete human condition rendered perfectly in the center, unchallengeable objective knowledge solidly detailed on one end of the fulcrum, and spiritual belief critically explained on the other. It gets my highest recommendation. I'm really happy today was someday.