Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Whether she’s in the classroom, on the softball field or thousands of feet in the air, junior catcher Erin Shireman excels.

Erin is an aerospace engineering student and four-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection. During her freshman season, she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. On the diamond, she has played four different positions for the Longhorns, spending most of her time as a catcher.

But what sets her furthest apart from most utility players is her private pilot’s license.

Erin’s father, Kirk, worked for NASA, so aerospace engineering has always been an interest of hers, she said. A few years ago, Kirk started flying again, and that prompted Erin to take lessons and earn her license too. The skills she uses when she flies carry over to other aspects of her life.

“It helps with softball and school a lot,” Erin said. “Whenever you’re flying, you have to constantly look at the instruments, make quick decisions, assess things and respond — kind of like catching. When I’m working on problems for different classes, I look at the formulas and sample problems, and stuff actually comes into play when I’m flying or in the wind tunnel, too.”

Erin’s versatility has helped her grow into a key fixture for Texas. She has played in 45 games this season, including 44 starts, as a catcher, third baseman and designated hitter. Head coach Connie Clark said she appreciates the intelligence Erin brings to the game.

“It couldn’t be better that she’s a catcher for us — that field general who just has a really good, big-picture sense about things,” Clark said. “She’s got a tremendous work ethic and a competitor’s mentality. She comes in early and works and is really a student of the game.”

That work ethic has helped Erin improve her offensive output. Early in her career, Erin struggled with chasing balls outside of the strike zone. She finished last season with a .284 batting average, three home runs and 16 RBIs in 34 games played. She currently boasts a .307 average, tied for third-best on the team, and eight home runs and 39 RBIs, both the second-best records on the team.

Erin put significant work into improving her hitting during the offseason. She said she believes her time as a catcher has influenced her offense as well.

“My whole job is to catch pitches and read the release out of a hand, so I think that comes into play, and it helps a lot with being able to recognize the spins quicker and know how pitchers think,” Erin said.

As Texas (32–14, 7–5 Big 12) prepares for a three-game road series against Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State (20–28, 3–10), Erin and Clark both want to focus on the little things, while improving on consistency, to get the victory.

“I don’t know that we’ve hit on all cylinders yet,” Clark said. “We’ve had some great pitching outings and just didn’t get the timely hitting. Other times, we didn’t get the pitching, but we got the great offense, so I’d like to see it all come together.”

The series takes flight at 7 p.m. on Friday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, followed by afternoon games Saturday and Sunday.

Freshman catcher Michael Cantu has made his presence known behind the plate, throwing out seven would-be baserunners this season.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Trying to steal a base against freshman catcher Michael Cantu isn’t an easy task.

The feat proved especially challenging Saturday, as Cantu displayed his defensive prowess against Oklahoma. In the sixth inning, a Sooner runner tried to steal second, but the freshman made a phenomenal off-balanced throw from his knees to senior second baseman Brooks Marlow for an inning-ending out. He followed that with another equally impressive throw from his knees to freshman shortstop Joe Baker later in the game.

“Cantu did a great job throwing people out at the plate,” sophomore pitcher Kacy Clemens said after the game.

Cantu, a Corpus Christi native, has thrown out seven runners attempting to steal on him this season. He’s hitting .265 on the season and is tied for third in the Big 12 in walks with 25. The 6-foot-3, 237-pound catcher has been a bright spot throughout the season — especially when the team overall is struggling.

Although Texas dropped two out of three against the Sooners, Cantu hit .500 and drew three walks. Head coach Augie Garrido said he was impressed with Cantu’s play.

“He threw out every runner that tried to run on him,” Garrido said. “He was a very mature baseball player. If we could get everybody particularly on offense competing the way he competes — they certainly have a leader and a model to follow in him.”

Cantu came to the team with high accolades. Before coming to college, he was ranked the No. 1 catcher in the state by Perfect Game USA. Perfect Game USA also named him an underclass second-team All-American in 2013 and a third-team All-American in 2014. The Texas Sports Writers Association named him a first-team all-state catcher in 2013 and second-team in 2014. Cantu was also drafted by Chicago Cubs in the 30th round in 2014.

Cantu has proven himself with his confident play from behind the plate. Cantu said that confidence comes from his trust in himself and his baseball ability.

“You got to be confident,” Cantu said. “I was always told that there’s no age in baseball. It doesn’t matter. If you can play, you can play. That’s the big thing: You got to have confidence and trust yourself and trust that what you’ve been doing that’s got you here will keep you going.”

Although he isn’t shy about his skill, Cantu also is quick to mention his teammates and throw the spotlight off himself.

“I’ve just been trusting myself and having confidence in my teammates,” Cantu said. “I threw a guy out that Joe [Baker] caught [against Oklahoma]. The ball was up the line, and he made a great play on it. It’s just trust in ourselves and trusting our defense.”

Texas (19–18, 6–6 Big 12) hopes to live up to that trust as they continue to battle through recent struggles.

Cantu and the Longhorns will try to break out of their slump in a three-game series against Kansas starting Friday at 6 p.m. in Lawrence, Kansas.

The art of trash talk in the MLB

When many people think of trash talking in sports, the first sports that come to mind are football, hockey and basketball.

Although baseball isn’t as rough or as physical as other sports, trash talk is still very present, with phrases such as “infield in” to “easy out.” Running your mouth, egging on opponents and being an annoyance are just some of the aspects of baseball many fans tend to forget.

Many players use trash talk to motivate themselves to play better by ridiculing the skill and toughness of their opponents. The goal of the art form is to get inside your opponent's head to try to take them out of the game mentally. If an opponent's mind is thinking about the trash talk, then he is not thinking about following his team’s game plan.

Many players are specifically known for their trash-talking abilities.

Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has a mouth that has gotten him ejected from many games, and baseball great Satchel Paige, who was completely confident in his own abilities, would make his defense sit in the dugout while he retired the side.

Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who played for the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins, had quite a mouth as well, getting into plenty of arguments with umpires and players. Zambrano was also known to “hold the mound” for an extended period to get underneath the batter’s skin.

The tension of rivalry games, such as the ones between the Red Sox and Yankees or Cubs and White Sox, always brings some of the most exciting in-game action. It also brings out the best trash talk.

Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, was a master of trash talk, and his biggest rival was former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Martínez admitted to making fun of Posada’s ears, calling him “Dumbo” after the famous cartoon elephant whose ears were so large that it enabled him to fly.

But Posada wasn’t shy either when it came to trash talk.

Martínez said there was bad blood between them after the catcher mentioned Martínez’s mother in a negative light. The bad blood eventually led to an all-out brawl in the 2003 playoffs, when Martínez threw then-72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. 

“Then he let it go a little bit too far with the Zimmer incident,” Martínez said on the 'Daily News Live' show earlier this year. “I did not appreciate that.”

Trash talk, at least for Martínez, sometimes resulted in intentional beanings as well.

After former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens pegged a Red Sox player, Martínez didn’t hesitate with his retaliation and hit the next two batters he faced.

Throughout most of his career, Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro Suzuki struggled to talk trash to opponents because he only knew his Japanese. Many players thought Suzuki could only speak English through his interpreter to reporters.

Suzuki, however, learned to speak Spanish through conversations with his teammates, so he could talk smack with some players in the MLB. 

Although he still can’t fluently speak Spanish, he was able to pick up some of the common trash-talking phrases.

“We don't really have curse words in Japanese,” Suzuki told the Wall Street Journal. “So I like the fact that the Western languages allow me to say things that I otherwise can't."

Baseball players get an adrenaline rush from the competition of the game, and competition fuels the fire of trash talk. Ultimately, the common bond between trash talkers in baseball is simple: It’s for the love of the game and winning.

Freshman third baseman Bret Boswell had a nice game against Incarnate Word on Tuesday night in a 7–1 victory. His RBI double in the third drove in two runs to propel the Longhorns to their third straight win.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

ARLINGTON — Texas had the win in sight.

With the game tied at two going into the top of the ninth, the Longhorns struck for three runs in the inning, including a two-run triple by sophomore catcher Tres Barrera to take a 5-2 lead.

But for the first time all season, the Texas bullpen faltered with the game on the line.

Senior relief pitcher Ty Marlow gave up back-to-back hits to start the bottom of the ninth. Fellow senior relief pitcher Kirby Bellow gave up another hit to load the bases. Then freshman closer Kyle Johnston then came in, walked in a run and then gave up a two-run single to left, allowing UTA to tie the game at five-all.

And in the top of the tenth, junior relief pitcher Ty Culbreth gave up a leadoff triple and then threw a wild pitch, allowing UTA to take a 6-5 win at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night.

“It’s very difficult [to lose a game like that],” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We take pride in our pitching.”

Texas had a number chances early on in the game. The Longhorns drew three walks to load the bases in the top of the second with one out. But junior left fielder Ben Johnson flied out on the first pitch he saw, and senior right fielder Collin Shaw struck out looking to end the inning.

But it wasn’t until the sixth that the Longhorns finally capitalized on their opportunities.

Barrera singled to left to lead off the inning and scored a couple of batters later on a single by freshman first baseman Michael Cantu.

After UTA retook the lead a half inning prior, sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz led off the top of the seventh by reaching on an error by shortstop Travis Sibley and advanced to second as the ball sailed into the stands. After Gurwitz took third on a sacrifice fly, junior shortstop C.J Hinojosa managed to leg out an infield single to third, allowing Gurwitz to score to tie the game at 2-2.

Then in the ninth, with two on and two outs, Hinojosa singled to left to score Gurwitz to give Texas its first lead of the game. Barrera then followed that up with a two-run triple to right-center field to up the Longhorns’ advantage to 5-2.

“It was our only inning of being aggressive, I think, because it was the last inning and it was tied,” Garrido said. “So they played the game up to their ability level.”

But the lead wouldn’t last long. UTA quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and finally broke through with a single by pinch hitter Will Olson to force the game into extra innings. Mavericks second baseman Christian Hollie led off with a triple and then scored the winning run five batters later when Culbreth missed his mark and the ball bounced to the backstop.

The bullpen’s failure to maintain the lead in the ninth went against the norm for the Longhorns. Prior to the game, Texas relievers combined for a 1.56 ERA with only 14 earned runs given up.

“I think tonight was more of a let down than trying too hard,” Garrido said.

The Longhorns return to Austin for a three-game series against Kansas State beginning Friday at 6 p.m. 

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

There were high expectations for freshman catcher Tres Barrera coming in to the season. 

Head coach Augie Garrido slotted him into the four hole from the get-go. Barrera was behind the plate that first night while senior catcher Jacob Felts, who led the Longhorns to the College World Series in his freshman season, watched from the bench. 

“Augie had a lot of faith in me from the beginning,” Barrera said. 

But as the season began unfolding, expectations turned to frustration. The highly touted freshman was batting .128 just over a month ago. 

“I was [in the four hole] for a reason: RBIs and to bring guys in,” Barrera said. “At the beginning I was trying to do too much and that’s why I think I started slowly.” 

He had no multi-hit games in the first 15, and his average was the lowest on the team. Sophomore catcher Jeremy Montalbano and Felts began getting reps behind the plate, and all of a sudden, the catching job was up for grabs. 

“Of course it got into my head,” Barrera said. “But I took a step back and realized there were a lot of ball games left. Ever since then, things have been going my way.”

A three hit performance on March 11 against Texas State broke him out of that slump, and since that game, he has had nine multi-hit games while batting over .400. 

“Augie said he knew it was going to come,” Barrera said. 

Barrera’s power that Garrido talked about early on has also begun to rear its head. Barrera had just one extra-base hit in the first 15 games; in the next 21 games, he had 11.

But he is not just making a difference at the plate. He is making one behind it also. He is calling pitches for the a pitching staff that has a 2.12 ERA, which is fifth best in the country.

“It’s fun working with them,” Barrera said. “I study the hitters a lot before the games. They are all pretty confident in me.”

As Barrera’s bat started coming around, so did Texas (30-8, 9-3 Big 12), winning 17 of 21 games since March 11. The team has climbed all the way to No. 6 in the country.

“Winning: That’s all that matters to me,” Barrera said. 

Barrera heads into the TCU series this weekend with the team’s most doubles and its third best average and slugging percentage.

The opening game will be Thursday at 6 p.m. at home, as the weekend series was moved up a day for Easter Sunday. TCU (23-13, 7-5 Big 12) is third in the Big 12, two games back of Texas. It also sports a 2.69 ERA, second to Texas. 

Sophomore infielder Erin Shireman has proven to be a model student-athlete, currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering while playing a key role in the diamond for Texas.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Erin Shireman, a sophomore catcher/third baseman, is perhaps the most interesting player on head coach Connie Clark’s team.  

Shireman embodies the role of a student-athlete, currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering and continuing her family’s legacy.

“I have grown up with [aerospace engineering] my entire life,” Shireman said. “My parents got me into it at a young age, especially being from Houston. My dad works at NASA, so I have always been in that atmosphere and learned a lot from him. I have recently started flying, and that has kind of changed my mind, or given me a tough decision, as whether to go with space or atmospheric in the future.”

Shireman hopes her degree will be a launching pad for her ultimate goal of being an astronaut.

“I still want to be an astronaut, but I am being realistic that it may not happen,” Shireman said. “But now, having gotten my pilot’s license, I am really enjoying the atmospheric part of it. My parents keep me intrigued with that, and we go on family flying trips all the time.”

Many student-athletes view sports as their ultimate career destinations, often emphasizing their roles as athletes over being students. But when asked to choose which accomplishment she was most proud of, Shireman was stuck in the middle.

“That is a tough question because they are both a big part of my life, and so if I say I am more proud of one, I am kind of letting down the other part of me,” Shireman said. “I am proud of everything. Softball has given me the opportunity to come to UT and do the school aspect and then school will help me later on in the future, so they are pretty evenly balanced.”

Shireman and her teammates have had an up-and-down season thus far, but she has a concise summary for what has happened so far.

“Entertaining,” Shireman said. “There is never a dull moment when you have 19 girls on a team, and even when things are going rough we are always picking each other up and during the good times it is just easy, breezy rolling.”

The Longhorns made it to the semifinals of the College World Series last year and hope to reach similar heights this season despite their relative youth. 

“We have had a lot of games where we have lost by one run, or they have been really close games,” Smith said. “If we can just work on finishing that or getting ahead that will be the key to getting us back to the College World Series.”

Freshman catcher Tres Barrera continued his impressive season Tuesday evening with a 1-for-4 showing at the plate, which included a pair of RBIs. Texas continued its strong play by defeating No. 12 Rice in Houston. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Freshman catcher Tres Barrera continued his hot streak as the No. 8 Longhorns took down No. 12 Rice 5-2 in Houston. Barrera led the Longhorns with two RBIs, while junior pitcher Lukas Schirladi, dubbed by head coach Augie Garrido as the “best Tuesday starter in college baseball,” kept Rice in check.

Schiraldi allowed five hits in 6.2 innings and surrendered both Rice runs.

As the theme has been of late, the Longhorns (23-7, 2-2 Big 12) jumped on top of their opponent in the first inning. After the first three hitters reached in the first before Barrera — who has raised his average from .129 to over .290 in less than a month — came up to the plate, it appeared as though the Longhorns could break it open early.

But Barrera, in one of his few bad at-bats in his recent tear, grounded into a double play to drive in a run but kill the threat of more.

Texas’ top of the order tacked another one on in the third with the help of poor defense from the Owls. After junior second baseman Brooks Marlow walked and advanced to third on an error off the bat of sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson, he gave Barrera another chance to drive in a run. Barrera did what he needed to, lofting a fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly to give Texas a 2-0 lead.

Rice (21-10) kept things close, though, with a two-out RBI single in the fifth to make it a one-run game. But Texas did what it has all season — come through in close games.

A big sixth inning gave the Longhorns a comfortable lead. Freshman third baseman Zane Gurwitz started the scoring with a sac fly. Then, with two outs, Marlow singled, and Johnson reached on error for the second time to load the bases for senior center fielder Mark Payton.

Payton, being patient, worked a walk to push the lead to 4-2 and give way to Barrera.

Barrera came through with yet another big hit, just as he did over the weekend against Texas Tech. He singled home Marlow to push the lead to 5-1.

Schiraldi yielded one more run in the seventh, but that was all the Owls got.

Sophomore reliever Travis Duke came on in relief and threw 1.2 scoreless innings before handing things over to freshman pitcher Morgan Cooper to close it out.

On the day, the Longhorns had 10 hits to the Owls’ seven. But it was two errors that doomed Rice. Rice’s pitching allowed only two earned runs but five total.

This is the second time Texas has beaten Rice this season in as many tries. The teams will face each other again next Tuesday.

It’s that time of the year again, fantasy fanatics. Spring is right around the corner, and pitchers and catchers have already started reporting to spring training to prepare for the 2014 Major League Baseball season. While the players are working out and getting back in shape, future fantasy baseball owners are searching the internet to see the latest mock drafts and investing their time in reading about each team and what lineup card and pitching rotations are managers are going to roll with on opening day.

Each week, I will give my two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, my full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Let’s start with catchers:

Which catcher should go off the board first?

Buster Posey (SF) – While he wasn’t the top catcher in the 2013 season, he did win the National League’s Most Valuable Player award just two years ago. Posey posted a solid 2013 campaign hitting with a .294 batting average, 15 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Apparently, he gained 10 pounds during the off-season. Maybe this will give him a little more power, who knows.

Who is making a comeback from a bad 2013 season?

Carlos Ruiz (PHI) – Last season, Ruiz took a step back from his 2012 career year. He tallied a lousy five home runs and batted in just 37 runs. He was suspended for the first 25 games as well for amphetamines. I owned Ruiz in 2012, though, and I remember how good he was. He hit 16 home runs and had 68 runs batted in, both of which are career-highs. Ruiz hit for average in 2012 as well, batting .325. I don’t expect him to be a top-5 catcher, but I do expect him to crack the top 12.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – The 25-year-old prospect is going to be the everyday catcher for the Mets this season. He has battled the injury bug throughout his young career, but he’s healthy as of now and worth a gamble in leagues. In fact, you may be able to pick him up off the waiver wire because he might go undrafted in leagues that only have one catcher on the roster. Last year, he hit a poor .202 in 31 games, and while that is unattractive for fantasy to say the least, he was a great hitter in the minors, and I think this could be his year to become a relevant fantasy player.

Bound to Bust

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA) – Last year, Saltalamacchia hit a very respectable .273 to go along with 14 home runs, 40 doubles (second among all catchers) and 65 runs batted for the Boston Red Sox, who happened to be the best team in the majors, winning the World Series. Great players in that lineup surrounded him. Now he is moving to Miami to play for the Marlins, one of the worst teams in all of baseball. I just do not see him repeating what he has done the past couple of years.

My Preseason Rankings: Catchers

  1. Buster Posey (SF)
  2. Joe Mauer (MIN)*
  3. Yadier Molina (STL)
  4. Carlos Santana (CLE)
  5. Brian McCann (NYY)
  6. Wilson Rosario (COL)
  7. Salvador Perez (KC)
  8. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)
  9. Evan Gattis (ATL)
  10. Wilson Ramos (WSH)
  11. Matt Wieters (BAL)
  12. A.J. Pierzynski (BOS)
  13. Jason Castro (HOU)
  14. Miguel Montero (ARI)
  15. Carlos Ruiz (PHI)
  16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA)
  17. Russell Martin (PIT)
  18. Alex Avila (DET)
  19. Travis d’Arnaud (NYM)
  20. J.P. Arencibia (TEX)

*Moving to first base, but he is still eligible to play catcher in leagues

I’ll leave you with this...

There are not many positions in fantasy baseball as forgettable as catcher. A lot of people consider catchers to be a very weak position, and while that may be the case, it doesn’t mean you should flat-out forget about drafting one because they could very well be the most valuable position on your team.

I would try to be included in that first wave of fantasy owners to draft a catcher. Nothing stings more than realizing you are in the last few rounds without a starting catcher because you thought you could wait and get someone that is “just good enough.”

Good luck!

Twenty one personal letters written by J.D. Salinger, author of “The Catcher in the Rye,” have been added to the Salinger collection at the Harry Ransom Center. In the letters, Salinger, who was known for keeping out of the public eye, directly addresses his reservations about the publishing process.

The letters, which were sent over a 40-year period, were nearly all addressed to Ruth Maier, a classmate of Salinger at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania until Salinger dropped out in 1938. After purchasing the letters from Maier’s family for $25,000, the Ransom Center added them to their already large Salinger collection, which also includes short stories, galley proofs, typescripts, and other writings — both published and unpublished. 

In November, an unknown source pirated two unpublished works from the Ransom Center and sold them for publication online.

According to Stephen Enniss, director of the Ransom Center, the letters will provide researchers with a candid insight into the life of the famous author.

“[The letters] will amplify what we know about Salinger and provide a fuller picture of his life. The correspondence is remarkable for its duration — 40 years — and for the open and unguarded way Salinger confided his thoughts to his friend,” Enniss said.

Enniss said the letters also reveal the rigor with which Salinger approached his work.

“I was most taken with what the correspondence reveals about Salinger’s high and exacting standards: He was unable to release new work into the world until he felt it was perfect in every way,” Enniss said.

Enniss said the new letters, and the Salinger collection overall, are important because they make famous authors accessible to today’s readers.

“This certainly opens up Salinger’s work to a new generation of students and scholars and [is] an important way the University fulfills its service to a research community,” Enniss said.

Salinger wrote candidly in many of the 40 letters, discussing Maier’s love life and marital status. In a letter from 1941, he wrote, “I hope you’re happy, Ruthie. You’re probably in love with the big handsome boy who kicks you in the stomach three times daily.”

In a 1978 letter to Maier, Salinger used a more jovial tone: “Ruth Smith Maier Pendergast Walker Snapperstein Combs (you do have a lot of names), Author of “Sheila’s Kid,” cabaret singer, mother of eighteen, Channel swimmer, etc.”

With the letters now available for viewing at the Ransom Center, psychology freshman Logan Hailey said she thinks the letters allow a rare look into Salinger’s personal life.

“Considering the profound literary influence of Salinger, releasing recently discovered letters, though personal, would be incredibly beneficial to both readers and scholars in understanding Salinger’s life and works,” Hailey said.

Correction: Because of a reporting error, the original version of this story incorrectly named J.D. Salinger's collection of work. Additionally, the story misstated the research restrictions placed upon the new letters. They are available through the Ransom Center's standard patron application.

Salinger relevant again with biography and documentary release

A 1951 file photo shows J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," "Nine Stories," and "Franny and Zooey." The authors of a new J.D. Salinger biography are claiming they have cracked one of publishing's greatest mysteries: What "The Catcher in the Rye" novelist was working on during the last half century of his life. 
A 1951 file photo shows J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," "Nine Stories," and "Franny and Zooey." The authors of a new J.D. Salinger biography are claiming they have cracked one of publishing's greatest mysteries: What "The Catcher in the Rye" novelist was working on during the last half century of his life. 

J. D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," is about to receive more attention than he's seen in decades.

Salinger, who died in 2010, is the subject of a biography and documentary, both released this week. Because Salinger sympathetically explores the frustration and alienation of an adolescent first entering the “phony” adult world, it is easy to see why "The Catcher in the Rye" took off the way it did. For generations, teenage readers have felt that the book’s narrator Holden Caulfield is speaking directly to them, and it remains one of the most widely read books of all time, selling over 65 million copies since its 1951 publication. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that "The Catcher in the Rye" has completely eclipsed the remainder of Salinger’s narrow body of work. Despite publishing two other novels and several short stories, Salinger's career was an unmistakable downhill ride after the huge success of his first book. Salinger has been forced into a distinctly Holden Caulfield-shaped box since 1951, a fate very few people would wish upon anyone. And that’s a shame, because Salinger spent his entire literary career attempting to answer the questions that "Catcher" only begins to ask.

Take his 1961 novella "Franny and Zooey," for example. The book depicts the nervous breakdown of Franny Glass, a college student struggling to define herself while surrounded by self-aggrandizing would-be intellectuals like her boyfriend Lane, who just can't seem to stop talking about his incredible essay on Flaubert.

Salinger’s best writing is about characters at crossroads, who are paralyzed and unable to do anything but ask why they've been forced to choose a path in the first place. He explores their frustration with touching sincerity. “I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. Sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody,” Franny confides in the reader.

In the oftentimes harsh, meritocratic environment of university life, maybe that’s a lesson we could all use: It takes courage, and a lot of it, to be happy with who you are. That’s something Holden Caulfield never got to learn in "Catcher," and it’s just one of the reasons why the obscurity of Salinger’s other work is so tragic. So to celebrate the release of "Salinger" this Friday, give one of his lesser-known books a read.