Readersforum's Blog

September 23, 2014

50 best cult books

Albert Camus, Joseph Heller, JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon are among the authors chosen by our critics for the 50 best cult books

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

By Telegraph Reporters

A cult book may be hard to define but one thing is for sure: you know a cult book when you see one.

Cult books are somehow, intangibly, different from simple bestsellers – though many of them are that. And people have passionate feelings on both sides:

Our critics present a selection of the most notable cult writing from the past two centuries. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire . . .

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February 14, 2012

Top Ten Funniest Books of All-Time

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:23 am

CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller

In an age of Wall Street riots, pizza-shucking politicians, and the generally chaotic atmosphere of the universe, we’ve decided to compile a list of the Top Ten Funniest Books of All-Time. Consider this list cheaper than Prozac.

The criteria? Gut-splitting, eyes-watering, holy effing-you-know-what-I-can’t-believe-it funny. You know what we’re talking about here. These are the ones where we’re laughing out loud on the subway and people are staring at you because they think you’re insane.

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October 12, 2011

Catching up with Catch-22

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 4:56 am

Shrimp-time: the Heller family after the publication of Catch-22

Erica Heller was nine when her father’s great novel, Catch-22, was published. On its 50th anniversary she describes how it changed her life – and why she is reading it for the first time.

It was love at first sight. The first time I saw Catch-22, I fell madly in love with it. But it was 1961, I was nine years old, and at the time I read only about three pages before putting it down again. And although I’ve tried many times to finish it, I’m actually only reading the whole book for the first time now.

I never set out not to read Catch-22; there was never any kind of deliberate tactical avoidance. The truth is, I sat down with it more times than Yossarian flew missions, but then always halted midway. Something invariably came along to distract or deter me and inevitably, confoundingly, I let it. I wasn’t in the mood for reading a “war book”, or was seized by a sudden mad desire to commit to memory the designated tree, flower and bird of every US state, or sample every cheese with a name beginning with a vowel. Or a new book by Edna O’Brien was out. Nothing, not even blood, has ever trumped Edna O’Brien.

Meanwhile, friends, boyfriends, professors, dentists, relatives and one ex-husband vehemently urged me to plunge ahead and risk the unknown territory between the Catch-22 covers. But the more they insisted, the more I resisted.

At some point, a few years became many. Suddenly Catch-22 was a teenager, had grown up, entered its twenties and thirties. Today, it perches on the cusp of 50.

In my defence, one so lame it needs crutches, is the fact that the inscription Dad wrote in my copy of the novel in 1961 read: “To Erica Jill, With the hope that when you read this book in 10 or 15 years you will love it at least a little – and you will love me too.” Somehow I mistook this for an amnesty and figured there was no rush. But really, 50 years?

Now, the first book Dad wrote is the last of his I’ll read. And as for why I haven’t read it before, my best answer is that reading it means relinquishing the anticipation of reading it.

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August 3, 2011

Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22′ turns 50

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:55 am

Click to buy

By Deirdre Donahue

A half a century ago, a Manhattan ad guy straight out of Mad Men wrote a novel whose title became an indispensable part of our lexicon.

This October, get ready to sing “Happy 50th birthday” to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Publishers are already marking the anniversary:

•Out this week is One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller by Tracy Daugherty (St. Martin’s Press, $35), the first full biography of the writer.

•Due in stores later this month is Yossarian Slept Here (Simon & Schuster, $25), Erica Heller’s bittersweet memoir of her father.

•Released this spring: A 50th anniversary edition of Catch-22, with an introduction by Heller friend and fellow satirist Christopher Buckley (Simon & Schuster).

Biographer Daugherty, who teaches at Oregon State University, calls Heller’s debut novel “the bible of American black humor.” The classic has sold more than 10 million copies since 1961.

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