Analyzing James Franco’s Bookshelf


Yesterday, James Franco tweeted a photo of what we can only assume is his bookshelf (who else would keep a bottle of whiskey with James Franco’s face on it on their bookshelf? Okay, maybe a lot of people, but still). Since we are no strangers to judging people by their bookshelves, we thought that this picture, with its clearly app-created distressed edges and faux ’70s sun-baked coloration, might provide a little window into the ever-fascinating world of James Franco. Or as much of a window as a series of low-res artifacts can ever provide. See the original tweeted bookshelf photo, as well as a few subsequent detail shots he posted after the fact, and all our commentary after the jump,.

How tantalizing of Franco to post a photo of his bookshelf where the only books that are clearly identifiable are a huge edition of The Great Gatsby and what looks like a Rothko art book. Since it’s hard to judge someone by these very standard texts (although we would definitely support Franco doing a modern film adaptation of Gatsby as Nick Carraway), we’ll have to see what else is happening.

1. The paisley wallpaper is amazing. What kind of guy has paisley wallpaper? From the painted wires above the doorframe to the right, this looks like a room in a fairly old building, so maybe the wallpaper came with the place. But we like to think Franco put it up on purpose, because hey, he liked the color.

2. Is that a beer on the top shelf? If anyone is a drink-and-reader, it’s probably Franco (maybe that’s why he’s always falling asleep in class), but maybe one day he came sauntering over to grab a book, beer in hand, and became so engrossed by his afternoon reading selection that he forgot the beer. Maybe it’s been there for weeks. We understand — we’ve also been known to accidentally leave open bottles of beer in strange places, like the pantry or the bathroom. We get distracted.

3. James Franco uses a crystal ball. The proof is right there in front of us on the second shelf! The proof is also in the fact that he never really picks a bad project — even when he does soap operas, it doesn’t seem to damage his career. The stupid stuff only enhances it. Is this because he consults the future before he signs on for projects?? Obviously, the answer is yes.

1. Now visible is Don DeLillo’s White Noise , which is a book we can get behind, and also seems perfect for Franco, captain of genuine irony. Strange, dark and hilarious, White Noise is at once a surreal satire and a meditation on the modern condition. Just like James Franco.

2. Also now identifiable is a stuffed Eric Cartman. We’d think that of all the characters, Franco might identify with Stan, or even Kenny, but Cartman? Maybe Franco is darker than we thought. Or maybe he just correctly chose the most hilarious character on the show. Either or.

Ah, another literary classic shows itself. Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree is the story of a well-to-do man who renounces his comfortable life with his parents, wife and son, and runs off to be a river fisherman, dating prostitutes and making friends with a guy who was sent to a work camp for violating watermelons. Well, we don’t think Franco is going to be abandoning his cushy life any time soon, but if there’s anyone who would do it “as a performance art project,” it’s definitely him. Or maybe this is just supplemental reading for his film adaptation of Blood Meridian that’s rumored to be in the works?

We’ve never seen that book about Walker Evans before, so we’re not sure whether it’s about Walker Evans the American photographer famous for his beautiful and affecting photos of the effects of the Great Depression, or Walker Evans the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer. Actually, we think we know.

1. Stephen Dunn! Good choice of reading again for Franco, although we still haven’t come up against anything controversial taste or character-wise.

2. James Franco has a bottle of whiskey with a picture of James Franco on it. It’s right next to a (bookend? tchotchke?) figure of King Kong climbing a building. Could the two artifacts displayed in tandem be suggesting something about Franco’s career? Something like “guys, I’m totally killing it”? Maybe, but we already knew that.