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The Freedom to Read What You Want: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen


I just stumbled on a recent Wall Street Journal article about alikewise.com, an free online dating site that uses reading preferences to determine compatibility. This electronic equivalent of checking out a person’s bookshelves sounds like as good a way as any for singles to meet up with each other, as long as subscribers are more honest about their reading habits than they are about their age, weight, and height, and remember the cardinal rule of readers’ advisory: “Never apologize for your reading tastes.”
By now, most everyone has probably heard that Oprah Winfrey picked Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom, as her latest (and last?) book club pick, even though he was ambivalent, to say the least, about the honor when she also picked his last book, The Corrections, nine years ago. The brouhaha over Oprah’s choice (Freedom was already getting a lot of buzz, so many of Oprah’s choices are written by men, etc.) perpetuates the book world controversy underway before Freedom was published to great fanfare (women pointing out that most books reviewed in The New York Times are written by men, Time Magazine’s anointing of Franzen as the great American novelist, etc.)
Reading Freedom has suddenly become a cultural touchstone. Have you read it? Will you read it? Why or why not? (My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that Freedom is a very good novel, but A Gate in the Stairs by Lorrie Moore and So Much for That by Lionel Shriver — a woman — are equally good, and so are many other novels. If you want to try a book by a woman to compare to Freedom, check out this article in the U.K. Guardian about underappreciated American novelists.)

Click here to check availability of Freedom in the Old Colony Library Network catalog.

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