He was Julia Roberts's boyfriend in Eat Pray Love and a rock climber in 127 Hours. Now, the actor, artist and author explores the books that influenced his work—and his writing.
As I Lay DyingAs I Lay Dying
By William Faulkner

"My father gave me this book when I was getting into trouble in high school," says Franco, whose story collection, Palo Alto, focuses on several delinquent teens, including one on probation for drunk driving. "I was spending a lot of time alone at home," he continues, "and that's when I really started reading." First published in 1930, Faulkner's fifth novel follows the corpse of Addie Bundren as her family hauls her coffin on an arduous journey across Mississippi for burial near her relatives in Jefferson. Franco, who is working on a film adaptation of the book, has read it several times and is drawn to the nontraditional style and multivoiced narration: "Essentially, the book is a bunch of smaller, linked episodes. I really love the interior lives of the characters and the multiple perspectives—they have inspired my own stories."

Franco's next pick: Love & Fame by John Berryman


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