The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

Where was this book read? In the corners of rooms, on the bus, and in a warm cafe while I waited to meet a friend for dinner. 

Where did this book come from? At the Friends of the Seattle Public Library book sale.

The Specs: A memoir, acute observation to detail, grief and mourning, grappling for control, the vortex of "memory lane," California and New York, family, and ritual. 


"Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information is control."

"One thing I noticed... was that many people I knew shared a habit of mind usually credited to the very successful. They believed absolutely in their own management skills. They believed absolutely in the power of telephone numbers they had at their fingertips, the right doctor, the major donor, the person who could facilitate a favor at State or Justice.... Yet at I had always at some level apprehended... that some events in life would remain beyond my ability to control or manage them. Some events would just happen." 

"Who is the director of dreams, would he care? Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?" 

"We were equally incapable of imagining the reality of life without the other... Marriage is memory, marriage is time." 

"We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will not be at all." 

Should I read this book? Absolutely. It now falls into my personal cannon of "grief literature."

Buy it or Borrow it? I would say either. It is a beautiful memoir, but I didn't feel as compelled to make as many margin notes, probably due to the sacredness in Joan Didion's story; it was hers to tell, not mine to note on.