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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)

by Joan Didion

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,722228661 (3.83)319
  1. 20
    A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are autobiographical accounts of the writer's first year of widowhood.
  2. 00
    Logboek van een onbarmhartig jaar by Connie Palmen (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Trauer über den Tod des Ehemannes
  3. 00
    Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg (JuliaMaria)
  4. 00
    Nocturne: On The Life And Death Of My Brother by Helen Humphreys (unlucky)
  5. 00
    When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Both are beautiful explorations of magical thinking during grief -- Didion's in reaction to the death of her husband in older age; Wood's in reaction to the death of her father in childhood.
  6. 00
    The Long Goodbye: A memoir by Meghan O'Rourke (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Although these books certainly have differences, both are beautifully written, and both are about a year of grieving, each in their own way.
  7. 00
    Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield (sanddancer)

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» See also 319 mentions

English (221)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (225)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
excruciating, made even more so with her strange aloofness which is in all her prose. disturbing and affirming. ( )
  adaorhell | Aug 24, 2018 |
There is something about Joan Didion.

Let's get this straight. This is not new information. Didion has been around for decades, equipped with her sharp perspective on the world. Year of Magical Thinking is a heartbreaking account of life after death, and how to continually live through pain. Essential reading. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Aug 14, 2018 |
The book can read like a shipwreck at times, with Joan Didion meandering from place to place. But this probably reflects her state of mind best during this period of time when she thinks her husband could still come back to her. Didion kept thinking of the things her husband said and how she didn't pay sufficient attention to them and act on them. This is one thing I learned, at the very least, to pay attention to what they say. ( )
  siok | Jul 28, 2018 |
An odd choice of books perhaps, coming right after reading Billy Crystal's hilarious (and moving) memoir, STILL FOOLIN' 'EM, but Joan Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING is one of the most moving looks at bereavement and grief that you will ever encounter. The best book of its kind I have read since Anne Roiphe's EPILOGUE or Joyce Carol Oates' A WIDOW'S STORY. I much preferred Roiphe to Oates, but Didion's examination of the aftermath of a loved one's passing is maybe the best one of all. Not that there is any joy here, but there is certainly art. I had not read a Didion book since her early novels, PLAY IT AS IT LAYS and SALVADOR over forty years ago, but I'd read all the buzz about this one some years back. I'm glad I've finally read it.

All the boxes are checked: NY Times bestseller, rave reviews from all of the press, hundreds and hundreds of favorable reader reviews, and the winner of the National Book Award. I'm late to the party - or wake - yet again (for this 2005 book), so what else could I possibly add. An ineffably sad, but beautifully written book. Thank you for giving it to us, Ms Didion. My highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jul 24, 2018 |
I must admit I thought Blue Nights in some ways superior, but both books expose the journey we are all on in all is fragility. ( )
  dasam | Jun 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
Essayistic and concise, seeking external points of comparison, trying to set her case in some wider context.
added by KayCliff | editNew York Review of Books, Julian Barnes (Apr 7, 2011)
added by melmore | editLondon Review of Books, Michael Wood (pay site) (Jan 5, 2006)
The book is, as promised, extraordinary. The Year of Magical Thinking is raw, brutal, compact, precise, immediate, literate, and, given the subject matter, astonishingly readable.
added by melmore | editSlate.com, Peter D. Kramer (Oct 17, 2005)
Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative: a forced expedition into those "cliffs of fall" identified by Hopkins.
The Year of Magical Thinking , though it spares nothing in describing Didion's confusion, grief and derangement, is a work of surpassing clarity and honesty. It may not provide "meaning" to her husband's death or her daughter's illness, but it describes their effects on her with unsparing candor. It was not written as a self-help handbook for the bereaved but as a journey into a place that none of us can fully imagine until we have been there.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joan Didionprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for John and for Quintana
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Life changes fast.
I remember thinking that I needed to discuss this with John.
Confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames.
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Didion's journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140004314X, Hardcover)

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year’s Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:12 -0400)

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Demetrius and Paula Ogglebutt have problem parents who are in a chronic state of war with each other, which ultimately forces the children devise a peace plan for the family.

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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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