Franzen in February 2017

It’s that time of year when Reading in Bed pauses and takes a moment to alternately love, hate, and love-to-hate that great American novelist (it’s okay when it’s not capitalized) Jonathan Franzen.

Last year I debuted this feature and it was so much fun. I was drawing on a couple years’ worth of ideas, though, and at the beginning of 2017, I considered leaving it at that: a one-time thing. Do I have that much more to say? Two years out from his last book, the Fran Man is not in the news much lately, and reacting to his media presence is half the fun. Nor do I have any new conspiracy theories, unfortunately.

But then I kind of forced my hand by writing him a letter and letting him know about the whole Franzen in February thing:


D’ya think he reads his fan mail?

So! Here we are. I have a couple ideas up my sleeve, and I hope a couple of you contribute a guest post or two. If you would like to review one of his books, or write anything at all, loving or not, get in touch in the comments. No sign ups or prizes, just good, clean Franzen fun. Here’s what I’m working on:

  • The start of a”Complete Works” project with a review of Franzen’s first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City
  • A review of Nell Zink’s Nicotine, which pairs nicely with Purity
  • Chip Lambert and Charlie Brown: The Influence of Charles Schultz on the works of Jonathan Franzen (sounds academic, right? It’s just going to be Peanuts comic strips and quotes from The Corrections, don’t worry)
  • Show and tell: my Franzen collection, from ARCs to signed first editions

In the meantime, check out this wonderful Author Spotlight at new-to-me book blog bibliotaphs, or check out the Franzen in February archives.


On my shelf




  1. Kristine

    I really enjoyed reading last year’s Franzen in February and am glad you are doing it again! Not that I am very well versed in his bibliography but you did inspire me to read my first Franzen last year, Freedom. Though I did not love it, I did kind of love-not-hating-it-but-getting-angry-with-it-on-multiple-occasions. If that makes sense. Should I try The Corrections next?

    • lauratfrey

      Ha, did you read my sister’s guest post last year, about Freedom? Her reaction was quite similar! And yes indeed you should read The Corrections, it’s a lot more enjoyable IMO.

  2. artfulreader

    Oh I kind of want to get in on this but don’t know if I’ll have time. I’ve only read on of his books,Freedom I think it was, and I guess I viewed it very differently since I’m not American(or living in America). Will read those posts with interest.

  3. buriedinprint

    How is it that I wasn’t subscribed to your feed anymore? So weird! Anyway, found you again. But I don’t want to play in Franzen’s sandbox, so I’ll just peer in from the margins. 😀

    • lauratfrey

      I miss a LOT of your stuff because I can’t subscribe to you in WordPress reader, which is pretty much how I read blogs. I just signed up for your email updates. Usually I just try to catch up every once in a while, but you’re so prolific, it’s hard 🙂 That is totally fine and I get the Franzen thing, ha.

      • buriedinprint

        I use Feedly to organize my online reading, because you can include pretty much anything that updates, but I think there is a setting which auto-culls things at times (I use the free service, not paid, so maybe I don’t have as much archiving space, or maybe it’s actually something I’m doing). It’s always interesting to hear how other people manage their stuff, as there’s just so much of it these days!

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