32 thoughts on “Jonathan Franzen's Desert Island Reading

  1. Title could be: how to suck the fun out of your desert island booklist!

  2. I'd take Sartre's 'L'idiot de la famille'. this is a huge ass book about Flaubert.

  3. What the fuck? Can't he just answer the fucking question and name three or five books that he would carry with him on an island? By the way, Corrections is an awful book. Franzen just tried to imitate Roth and Easton Ellis.

  4. wtf is wrong with all these hate for this writer? I am just reading Corrections in polish translation and it is wonderful book. and just looked for some interview with him on youtube… why people hate this man and call him pretentious?? couse he is not wearing a cap and does not do rap music? seroously whats going on?

  5. Oh my god, look at the amount of douchebagery going on here. There is a real hate campaign going on against Franzen that is partly sad, but also really hilarious. Most people who hate him are just people who never read books and get told to read Corrections and Freedom and either put it away after the first 10 pages or don't get the stuff in there at all and need to let out their frustration on him, because their 10-second-attention-span is not being rewarded with images of violence and superheros fucking each other in the ass or whatever people nowadays consume.
    And then there's people who don't know him at all taking his comments on the world or literature out of context to call him pretentious or a misogynist blabla.
    Like how more can you feel threatened by a person's own opinion and work?

  6. As someone who has never before heard of this individual I can say I really didn't find anything bad about him? Especially illustrated in just this video?

  7. Franzen is puzzling. It is hard to imagine a more viscerally dislikable human being.

  8. The very sound of this man's voice is as pretentious and ridiculous as any imitator of Anthony Hopkins or Jeremy Irons chewing up the scenery. Why is Franzen respected again? Is it because he THINKS he has something worth hearing?

  9. He'd learn Russian to read Russian literature (War and Peace)—some books are their best in their original language—translations do not always give works their full brevity. Seems you didn't listen very well before you decided to say snotty things. Shame on you for your ignorance!

  10. can't believe he said "chinese". it's not chinese and my kid brother knows that.

  11. I mean if I had all the time in the world to be alone and not have to deal with the idiots on the Internet, I would learn new language and the history of china and everything. It's about personal growth, not necessarily external usefulness.

  12. If you mean "Omg I kinda hate the comments," then I agree.
    Many people are taking the phrase Desert Island Reading literally. Franzen defines clearly at 0:25 when he says, "Desert Island is not a literary canon. Desert Island is a wish list. What I wish I had had sustained reading time to actually figure out." Even if it were a true desert island, he is taking Russian grammars and dictionary to read "War and Peace" in the original language.

  13. What the fuck would be the point of learning Russian, if you're never going to talk to anyone ever again? You smarmy fuckamu!

  14. What good is learning a new language if you're alone on an island?

  15. Haha! It's funny how you mention mixing up the b and g. I attempted to learn Russian not long ago and I kept getting the English letter 'N' and the Russian letter 'и' mixed up. I'd have a brain fart every time I had to write it.

  16. "Books that are not only fun but have some substance to them" Don't discount reading better children's books, such as Newberry Award Winners. I would recommend "Walk Two Moons" and "A Single Shard" to anyone that can read intelligently. "Pictures of Hollis Woods" wasn't bad either.

  17. I actually tried to learn Russian in high school in a class taught by a former CIA agent. I even found a copy of "Essentials in Russian" somewhere near DLI in a used bookstore. But no one in Russia has used the word "comrade" since Glasnost, so this textbook it's merely an artifact. I think the first lesson features a visit from the KGB or something of that nature. The alphabet alone…astounding to learn. For years, I mixed up my English cursive 'b' and 'g' as a result. Fun times.

  18. RE Why not take the opportunity to learn a language? Because there'd be nobody around to converse in that, or any language, with!!! Isn't that the whole point of this scenario? Isn't that why the 5 books are so important, cos you're going to be without human contact? WUBBA WUBBA WUBBA!!!!

  19. Actually, when read from a secular, literary perspective, the Bible (and all religious scripture) is some of the best reading ever. However, I wouldn't expect some people to be able to overcome their prejudices.

  20. You're absolutely right. I'm all for looking at the Bible as a work of fiction. If there was a way of just killing the superstition and saving the literature I would be advocating it, unfortunately I don't see that there is.

  21. Sure, I'm not in favour of "ridiculous and inimical superstition" I just wouldn't want to leave the poetry and foundational cultural touchstones of the Bible behind. If we saw the Bible in the same way as we saw the Iliad and Ovid's Metamorphoses then there wouldn't be a problem.

  22. But now that we have the English language and the opportunity to preserve the best of what we've achieved and leave the worst, doesn't it make sense to leave ridiculous and inimical superstition behind?

  23. The Bible is Western Civilisation! Without the King James' Bible you don't have the English language, any more than you would without the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer.

  24. …the Bible? If the world came to an end and you had the opportunity to preserve a select few books you would chose to preserve a book that has held Western civilization back for two millennia?

  25. The "What would you read on a desert island?" question always intrigues me. Am I on the desert island because the world came to an end? In that case, I would bring books that deserve preservation, like the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. Are they the only books I will ever have for the rest of my life? In that case, I would take an author I've always wanted to read more of but haven't, like Dickens. What am I expected to do on the island? Escape? Relax? Settle? The answer changes each time.

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