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I was not meant to read this

  • Feb 6, 2009
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This whole book describes events and stories throughout the lives of Joan Didion and her family, and it serves as a way for her to express her grief and try to come to terms with the death of her husband of 40 years, all during a year of what she calls "magical thinking."

It's not an entertaining read. It offers some insight on marriage and family, but overall I felt like I was reading something far too personal, a diary of sorts, something that anyone else might write but never publish. Obviously, since it is Joan Didion, the language, the prose, the style, everything about it flows and stops, flies by and slows down in a pleasing rhythm of words, but nothing about the topic is easy to read.

She studies her grief like a med student studies biology, analyzing the various processes that are happening in her mind, causing the sometimes strange and often random thoughts and ideas with which she is constantly struck.

The immediate comparison that comes to mind is with C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed," a comparison that Didion points out herself. The difference, though, is that with Lewis' work, I felt like I suffered through much of the grief with him and finished the book feeling a sense of catharsis and ability to move on. Didion's I felt neither of those things; it simply felt like reading her diary. And perhaps that was the point, but in the end I felt that I should not have read the book, and that's never something I like to feel after finishing a book.

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April 19, 2010
Great review of the book! You expressed my sentiments as well. I shall be writing a review of it shortly if you want to read it. :)
February 06, 2009
I can see how someone would feel that way about this book. But on the other hand, I think Didion did a very interesting job showing how grieving often trumps reason and logic, how we look to the past after a catastrophe and try to find clues and signs that give meaning. I did find it illuminating in that way.
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review by . April 03, 2013
Joan Didion, one of America's foremost journalists and writers, tackles a universal experience in The Year of Magical Thinking, that of dying, death, loss and grief. Ever the practitioner of the literary succinct and eloquent-trademarks of Didion's writing style-she explores these themes and global experiences via her own personal tragedies, i.e. the sudden 2003 death of her husband-of nearly forty years of marriage-in their apartment and their daughter, Quintana's severe ill-health. …
review by . April 28, 2010
No Consolation from Grief
   Click here to read the book quotes.      Originally, I read this book as a way to cope with a lot of family deaths that occurred during a difficult time in my life. It was recommended by a user of the Yahoo Cafe Libri Group, but it didn't live up to my expectations. Perhaps the disconnection lay in the fact that Didion suffered from the loss of a spouse whereas my grief was more distant: my cousin, grandmother, uncle, and great uncle all died in relative …
review by . July 05, 2010
Many years ago Joan Didion was featured on C-Span's BookTV.  I don't have many writers which register as rock stars, but for me, Didion is definitely one of them.  The show had a call-in period.  I didn't expect to get through, but low and behold after a few busy signals, did in fact get through to ask a question to one of my literary idols.  I wish I could say I asked her a phenomenal, insightful question and that her face showed she was impressed with my knowledge …
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
A great read, and very well-written, but certainly not a book to cheer you up. Read this if you're in the mood for something a bit sad.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
So sad and beautifully written,I recommended this book to everyone I love immediately after I finished it.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
A fascinating look at grief--how it changes us, how to accept when tragedies happen. A wonderful book.
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
Just another new age look at principles that cause people to think they can get something for nothing. That is not how life works.
Quick Tip by . August 28, 2009
The Year of Magical Thinking by iconic writer Joan Didion- tackles grief- a candid, memorable book- couldn't put it down!
About the reviewer
Mark J. Lehman ()
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Member Since: Jan 2, 2009
Last Login: Sep 14, 2010 10:59 PM UTC
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About this book


The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), by Joan Didion (b. 1934), is an account of the year following the death of the author's husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). Published by Knopf in October 2005, the book was immediately acclaimed as a classic in the genre of mourning literature. It won the National Book Award in November 2005 and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography 
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ISBN-10: 140004314x
Author: Joan Didion
Genre: Nonfiction,Autobiography
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date Published: 2005
ISBN: 140004314x
Format: Hardcover (first edition)
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