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Book Discussions > Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: Newest Pick!!

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
Oprah announced her 64th book selection yesterday. Was anyone surprised by it? I was.

On Oprah's website, this is the reading schedule.

Follow this reading calendar, and you'll finish Freedom in time to participate in our book club discussion with Oprah and Jonathan Franzen!

September 24: Pages 1–118
October 1: Pages 119–187
October 8: Pages 188–289
October 15: Pages 290–381
October 22: Pages 382–442
October 29: Pages 443–the end!

As a group, I wanted to get your feedback as to how we should read it. Do you want to follow along with Oprah or should we set our own pace? Let me know what you think! And let me know what you thought of the selection!


message 2: by Lisa Lorraine (new)

Lisa Lorraine Bowen (lisalorraine) | 1 comments Why were you surprised by the selection?


message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I was kind of expecting a book I have never heard of. That's the kind she seems to pick. Plus, I heard a rumor that he shunned her show so it was interesting that he didn't mind it being a selection.


message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
To read along with Oprah, you need to reach page 118 by Friday. I want to get started on this book, but library books that I've been waiting forever for keep coming in at the library! So I will probably be a little behind in reading but hopefully I can catch up.


message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I was looking at the online journal for this book on Oprah.com and the first question would make a great discussion question even for those who haven't necessarily started yet.

What does freedom mean to you?


message 6: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I was watching the Oprah show about the woman who was held hostage for 6 years, and she talked about the small freedoms that we have that I hadn't thought about. The freedom to change your mind, the freedom to be outside, the freedom to eat what you want, etc. I had always thought about freedom in a political way. It was very eye opening for me.


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments Last night I finished the book, having purchased it on August 31, the first day it was available at retail. (I loved The Corrections, which was published in 2001.) I keep a book journal and have over 30 pages of handwritten notes on the book. I feel Franzen has a remarkable ability to get inside the characters - into their souls, their psyches. There's is so much in the book, both personally with each character, and on a much broader level of what is happening in our society today. I don't think one reading is enough. I'm going to start it all over again tonight, focusing on the parts that were really meaningful to me and skipping over the parts I found distasteful or superfluous. Then, I am going to reread The Corrections, which I loved. I also read Franzen's memoirs (The Discomfort Zone) and essays (How To Be Alone) when they were first published. I find him to be a very deep, introspective author who obviously goes to great effort in his work.


message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments I started reading freedom today...Its my first time in a reading group with discussions...any tips in keeping a reading journal...


message 9: by Linda (last edited Sep 27, 2010 05:56AM) (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments On the "reading journal", I have small notebooks, like "composition books" students use. They are small enough for my purse/laptop bag along with the book. (Freedom was very heavy however.) I have a favorite pen. As I read and want to write something I note the page and the quote that impacted my thinking and my own emotions. Then I write my own thoughts about the passage. Sometimes I re-write my journals on my laptop, then print them out for my reading file. I read a great deal and want to remember what I read for a long time. I don't watch tv, am divorced with grown children, and semi-retired. Since early childhood reading has been like being on "sabbatical" - away from everything. Franzen would label me a "social isolate" but I'm very friendly really. Sometimes I just crave peace and quiet. (Elisabeth 713, Chicago)


message 10: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I dog-ear pages as I go and then write down my favorite quotes in a notebook when I'm done. I heard an idea of someone reading a book with a index card and writing down thoughts as she went and then she kept the index card in her book so she could refer to her thoughts without damaging her book. Oprah also has a reading journal online at her website at www.oprah.com/freedom

Thanks for joining us!


message 11: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments Thanx for all the advice..very helpfull..Look forward to the discussions...xx


message 12: by Dhitri (new)

Dhitri Lisa wrote: "On the "reading journal", I have small notebooks, like "composition books" students use. They are small enough for my purse/laptop bag along with the book. (Freedom was very heavy however.) I ha..."

Hi Lisa, this is so interesting! I've never kept a book journal before and previously I have only dog-eared the pages I found interesting. However, ever since I start reading on my e-reader, I've gotten into the habit of note-taking and with Freedom, I have taken so many notes! I think it's a great idea to write down thoughts whenever I put down the book. I have scribbled my thoughts to the questions posted on oprah.com, but since I have started on another book already, I think I am going to finish that first then start re-reading Freedom...


message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments Has anyone read Franzen's book of collected essays "How To Be Alone" from 2002? The book was published after the 2001 release of "The Corrections" but contains his essays going back to the mid 1990's. Last night I finished rereading the essays. Franzen is obviously a very deep, introspective author - and very complicated. In his essay "Reading in Bed" (1997) he writes of Phillip Roth's "ability to get away with writing about explicit sex". Yet back then, Franzen wrote, "...there are limits to my desire for immersion in a stranger's biochemistry". Apparently, he's changed his mind. (I'm being sarcastic.) And, to be quite honest, I found some parts of "Freedom", especially related to Joey's story in "Bad News", to be just too much. Does anyone else have thoughts on this? I'm now rereading "The Corrections".


message 14: by Vernon (new)

Vernon Goddard (gorseinonboy) Lisa wrote: "On the "reading journal", I have small notebooks, like "composition books" students use. They are small enough for my purse/laptop bag along with the book. (Freedom was very heavy however.) I ha..."

Hi Lisa - Thanks for the insights into how you go about keeping a Reading journal. Your approach is very detailed and obviously a labour of love as well. So far I have only read Corrections by Franzen for a Book Club I was in. I thought it a magnificent capture of family life, its tensions and ill-feelings but altogether human as well. I'm hoping Freedom will be as good. I read Corrections twice and felt more comfortable in understanding the book on the second occasion. I hope to start taking some notes re Freedom along the lines you suggested. It will help make me reflect on many aspects of the book and will certainly help when it comes to writing a review. Vernon


message 15: by Vernon (new)

Vernon Goddard (gorseinonboy) Adhityani wrote: "Lisa wrote: "On the "reading journal", I have small notebooks, like "composition books" students use. They are small enough for my purse/laptop bag along with the book. (Freedom was very heavy ho..."

Hi Adhityani

I'm interested in how you are getting along with your EReader and how it might help in taking notes. I've been offered by my wife the possibility of an Ipad for Xmas so I'm just researching the different products and their pros/cons........


message 16: by Dhitri (new)

Dhitri Hi Vernon,

I have contemplated switching to ebooks for a long time before I finally got my Sony Reader (and this, after carefully weighing all the options available on the Australian market!). I have so far read 3 ebooks on this device (including Freedom) and am reading my 4th book. I love it because of its intuitive note taking abilities. The Reader has a touch screen and a stylus, so I don't need to fiddle with too many buttons. Page turning is fast and I love that you can expand the storage (unlike with Kindle). The e-ink is beautiful and does not hurt my eyes. I find that my reading speed substantially increased with the Reader, maybe has something to do with me not getting intimidated by the physical dimension of a thick hardback. I can export the notes on to my laptop, which makes browsing for additional references and just storing the notes much easier. If you need more details, feel free to PM me :)


message 17: by Dhitri (new)

Dhitri Lisa wrote: "Has anyone read Franzen's book of collected essays "How To Be Alone" from 2002? The book was published after the 2001 release of "The Corrections" but contains his essays going back to the mid 199..."

SPOILER ALERT:

I read the book right before I read Freedom! Thanks for pointing out that passage. Perhaps Franzen is deliberately trying to intrigue readers into contemplating about love, sex and, maybe, biochemistry? But too be honest, he didn't do quite a good job when it comes to exploring Patty's and Walter's sexual relationship. Only think we know that it turned bland, I believe this part deserves more elaboration! How did it change over the years, the ups and downs, I mean they got off on a good start (at the motel?) and went on to have two children after all. Or does this reflect how little Patty cares about her and Walter's sexual life? I wouldn't think so, she dedicated entire passages in her autobiography to this... I think, Franzen got a little carried away describing Walter's and Lalitha's and definitely Patty's and Richard's explosive sexual encounter in the lake house, they were really detailed (and explicit, if I may say).


message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments Adhityani wrote:

"I have contemplated switching to ebooks for a long time before I finally got my Sony Reader (and this, after carefully weighing all the options available on the Australian market!)."

I appreciate your comment about the ebook readers. I've been agonizing over this for some time as well. I'm happy to know that you can export your notes from the Sony Reader to your laptop and also expand the memory. Thank you!

Also, thank you for the comments about Walter's and Patty's sexual relationship. I was actually thinking more about Joey - That's where Franzen really gets "quite detailed". I can't say more as it would spoil everything for those who haven't read that far. I'm also rereading The Corrections now. At least I have a paperback copy - much easier to carry on the commute train. But an ereader is in my future - soon. I'm almost "overdosed" on Franzen but he's complicated and a second reading provides more insight. There are so many good books that I have accumulated and new books coming out each week now.



message 19: by Vernon (new)

Vernon Goddard (gorseinonboy) Adhityani wrote: "Hi Vernon,

I have contemplated switching to ebooks for a long time before I finally got my Sony Reader (and this, after carefully weighing all the options available on the Australian market!). I ..."


Thanks for the initial comeback. As I get more into the research of the various EReaders I may well PM you. Thanks Vernon


message 20: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments Adhityani wrote: "Hi Vernon,

I have contemplated switching to ebooks for a long time before I finally got my Sony Reader (and this, after carefully weighing all the options available on the Australian market!). I ..."


Ive thought of switching too...I also live in Australia...and am not to well informed on ebook readers...Thanx for your comment..Very helpful...Can I ask you what price range its in...just pm me if you want to tell me...lol...sorry for intruding...also where do you purchase your ebooks...I need all the advice I can get..lol...thanx..xx


message 21: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments Well, I seem to be doing an independent study course in Franzen. I am more than 1/2 through my rereading of "The Corrections" at about page 350. I first read it in 2002. I am liking "The Corrections" more than "Freedom". Freedom seems too rushed. Some of the characters are not as developed as in The Corrections, such as the daughter - Jessica. I guess, since the weather has turned bad here in Chicago, I will be ready to start rereading Freedom by Monday. I did enjoy it, but not like The Corrections.

Does anyone else have certain books they save for "winter reading", like Dickens, Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy?

On e-readers, on certain brands you only have the book for a certain period of time and not forever. I have to look into that. Also, the amount of storage, the ability to take notes, readability in different types of light (in bed at night or in sun at a park), how to transfer your notes to your laptop - all of these are issues. I'm not sure if you really want to keep a book how long it would be available on an ereader if the technology would be obsolete when you want to go back to the book some time in the future. These are all questions I have.


message 22: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
Oprah is going to have Jonathan Franzen on her show on Monday, November 29. I can't wait to watch it even though I never finished the book. There were parts that I liked, but as a whole I just couldn't finish it. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about his book!


message 23: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 66 comments I just started reading "Freedom" two days ago since I got it from the Skokie Library. I'm enjoying it a lot more than I enjoyed "The Corrections." I'm still on the part that's being told from Patty's point of view. Maybe the other characters will not be as developed. That remains to be seen. Although some of the minor characters are being shown as prototypes, I'm finding the main ones a lot more fleshed out than the ones in "The Corrections" were.


message 24: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
Oprah interviewed Jonathan Franzen very briefly on her show today, but she had a full interview with him afterward that she posted online. Here's the link to it:

Jonathan Franzen Interview


message 25: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments I just watched the full interview online and truly appreciate making this available. I think Franzen seems shy, very introspective and insular. He discussed how he writes (in a dark office with no internet or phone). He produces about 1000 - 1500 words per day! This creates only 3 or 4 pages a day. In today's society is it remarkable that someone can stick with such a project for the years it took him to complete the book. Everything seems so "instant", so temporary and momentary, today. For him to brave a one hour interview with Oprah was highly commendable. I loved the questions from the men belonging to the Gower Street Book Club. All of the audience questions were really good.


message 26: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
The thing I thought was most interesting about the interview was the chiclet comments. I totally agree with us being a "chiclet" society where we take small pieces of instant things, like music, and chew them up, throw them out and move on to something else.

But I really thing the move to digital music and the MP3 age was more than that. I think after the Beatles, and especially in the 90's and early 2000's, bands moved away from making albums and were more concerned with the one hit wonder route. I think teenagers of the time (because I was one) rebelled against this one good song, all the rest are bad songs by making mixed CD's and sharing the one good songs with their friends. It was painfully obvious on some CDs that they had put all their effort into one song and filled the rest of the CD with songs that weren't even worth listening to. I buy more albums today than I used to because bands can't survive on the one hit wonder route anymore. I think we've come full circle where bands are becoming more concerned with making quality albums again. Sorry if this is off topic, but it was just something I was thinking about.


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