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by Jonathan Franzen | Literature & Fiction
Registered by wingStoepbrakwing of Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on 1/13/2013
Average 6 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by jrfep): travelling

This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!

2 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingStoepbrakwing from Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Sunday, January 13, 2013

This book has not been rated.

Synopsis (Credit:

This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other.

Shortlist: National Book Critics Circle Awards: Fiction 2010.
On the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List.

(Bought new at Wordsworth, Willowbridge Mall, Bellville.) 

Journal Entry 2 by wingStoepbrakwing at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7 out of 10

When I found an audiobook version of this book in the library, I grabbed the opportunity despite having the book on my bookshelf. The advantage is that I could listen to it while commuting, thereby gaining bonus 'reading' time.

It was interesting to experience how my rating of the book varied. It started out a sure 8, then dumped to no more than 6. At the end I scored it a high 7.

The value of the book is that it captures a certain modern-day Zeitgeist (mostly American but surely to be found elsewhere as well) in all its perceived complexity. It is a formidable story with many interlinked characters. Just about all of them are flawed in some significant way, yet their better sides shine through as well. Life is difficult (mostly as a result of our own doing) and nothing turns out quite the way one thinks it will, seems to be the theme. Plus: we don't know how to handle freedom.

What I missed is subtlety. Nothing is alluded to or implicated: all is spellt out in minute detail and full colour. Perhaps the idea was to depict oversharing as a symptom of the time described. I also missed some ordinary people: those who enjoyed life without so much subconscious angst.

Ironically I listened to this audiobook at the same time as reading The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The contrast was striking: while Franzen was describing the results of uncontained freedom, Solzhenitsyn was analysing a society stripped of freedom of any kind. Both books were included in the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but I have no doubt which of the two I would release in the wild without second thoughts and which would linger on my Permanent Collection shelf a while longer. 

Journal Entry 3 by wingStoepbrakwing at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Thursday, February 28, 2013

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (3/2/2013 UTC) at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa


To be taken to the BCct meetup at The Fisherman's Choice at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

Read and Release! 

Journal Entry 4 by jrfep at Maracaibo, Zulia Venezuela on Wednesday, March 02, 2016

6 out of 10

Ada (my life partner) was interested in reading this book when she saw it at our last meeting with Cape Town BookCrossers some years ago. Shortly after that meeting we moved back to Maracaibo, Venezuela, and the book came along we us. Ada tried to read the book but her interest faded after a couple of pages and the book stood unread in our book shelf for a long time.

I decided to give the book a try, and started reading out of curiosity. I found the first pages very funny to read and I had the feeling that there was something interesting in the story. I kept reading with certain entusiasm and enjoyed the detailed, lengthy descriptions of emotions, feelings and moods of the leading characters.

However at some point beyond the first half of the book, I started to feel annoyed by the combination of long descriptions of certain events while the author skipped other key events altogether. It strikes to me that the books concentrates on the conflicts and problems of the characters, while all pleasant and positive moments and accomplishments seem to happen off-pages, and we only read about the effects that they had. All conflicting characters (Patty, Walter, Richard and Joey) speak their minds at some point, but the "almost normal" Jessica only gets some lines of dialogue. The end was good but slow (the longest final 50 pages I have read in one night).

At the end, the stories come together with some unexpected, tragic and beautiful turns of events, and it somehow makes sense that our lives are never straightforward, that love is never infallible, that it never dies but struggles so much to survive. 

Journal Entry 5 by jrfep at Bücherwald Prenzlauer Berg (OBCZ) in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on Wednesday, March 02, 2016

This book has not been rated.

Released 2 yrs ago (2/21/2016 UTC) at Bücherwald Prenzlauer Berg (OBCZ) in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany


Started to read it in Maracaibo, brought in on the plane to Germany, and finally released it in Berlin for some further journeys. 

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