James Franco: TOP TEN BOOKS


Photo courtesy of Alice Barigelli/Flickr

“One of the things I pride myself on is being able to fit into whatever film I do,” the actor and artist James Franco told The Guardian last year, explaining his diverse resume that ranges from stoner comedies (Pineapple Express) to arthouse flicks (Wim Wenders’ 3D-drama Everything Will Be Fine). Over the years, Franco has both charmed and bemused critics with his refusal to be placed in a neat box, exploring the realms of poetry, fiction, art, and  performance with equal gusto. His Twitter and Instagram feeds alone might qualify as an art project. Not everyone approves—”I don’t think anybody’s afraid to write a bad review of my stuff,” he told New York Magazine — but his all-consuming commitment to creativity can’t be denied.

Below are James Franco’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy
This is the western to end all westerns. Its rich tableaux of the borderlands mixed with unrelenting violence creates an inimitable portrait of our country's history.
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The Long Home

William Gay
An unabashed disciple of Cormac McCarthy, this is the first book by a reclusive man who had old Tennessee pumping in his veins. Youth versus experience, love versus hate, this is a distinctly southern tale of a honkey tonk, murder, young lovers, and retribution.
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Jesus' Son

Denis Johnson
A slim book of interconnected stories following a hapless drug addict nicknamed "Fuckhead." Humorous, dark, and moving, with prose that surprises with its drug fueled imagery.
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The Sellout

Paul Beatty
This book killed me. Funny, poignant, outrageous, and deep as hell. Beatty talks about all the hard stuff of race with great skill and humor.
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As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner
On the surface it's the simple story of a family going to bury their mother; underneath it is a roiling tale of desperation, love, and struggle.
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Díaz
Everyone knows Junot Díaz is the man. This book is hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure; pop-cultural and political. Just a great read.
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Paulina & Fran

Rachel B. Glaser
Art school, lovers, comedy. I recently read this book and fell in love with its characters and prose. It's quirky and right on about trying to be creative today.
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Raymond Carver
The master of short minimalist fiction, Carver destroys the heart with economic prose like no other.
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In the Western Night: Collected Poems

Frank Bidart
A student of Robert Lowell, his poems breathe fire. He is both nakedly vulnerable and violently terrifying. My hero.
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Donkey Gospel

Tony Hoagland
A self-proclaimed post-modern confessionalist poet, his poems gather and distribute so much energy it's like he's a boxer, or a wrestler rather than a writer.
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