The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
Hardcover- $18.98

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet ...

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  "Brutally honest and searing in its intensity" by davidabrams (see profile) 03/08/06

  "a wonderful provoking book about death, the grieving process and survival." by thurgood5 (see profile) 05/21/06

This is a thought provoking book. Wonderfully written.

  "A must read for those suffering the loss of a loved one." by Zebra215 (see profile) 05/30/06

Joan Didion's journey through the year following her husband's death is insightful, giving her readers a synopsis of coping with the grief of such a painful loss. Her research into the different views, definitions, explanations, hypotheses, etc. regarding the coping mechanisms following death, and, more importantly, the distinction between the active process of grief versus the passive acceptance of mourning, was the aspect of the book I enjoyed (if that is the correct word) the most. The loss of the one person with whom she could share everything and her realization of the stark truth that he was no longer there to enjoy even the smallest detail of her life was eloquently described by Joan Didion. In combining her journalist's research methods and her novelist's skill, she has effectively given us a tool that can be used by all who have (or will, as it is inevitable) lose someone close to them. My favorite excerpt from the book is the one in which her husband gives her his last birthday present, his reaffirmation, and love, of her writing abilities, "Don't ever tell me again you can't write. That's my birthday present to you." What a wonderful gift! Thank you, Joan Didion.

  "Joan Didion/THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING is a novel written about the depthes into which we pluinge when we encounter the loss of a loved one. For awhile, we function in a limbo, and life just seems t" by imluna47 (see profile) 07/20/06

Heartbreaking clarity.

  "a moving and candid personal account of grief" by beckys (see profile) 09/27/06

  "Her life the year after her husband's sudden death." by KristinShoffeitt (see profile) 10/18/06

Depressing and rambling. I gained nothing from reading this book.

  "Not my favorite book." by [email protected] (see profile) 11/10/06

  "It feels like shaking hands with death. I believe it was wisely used to cope with a traumatic loss, and in effort to help others coping in a dignified way." by Cervantes (see profile) 12/07/06

I was engulfed in the sadness, but felt great respect for the writer in the way she gripped the end of one's life, wrestled with it, and parted with honor.

  "Woman loses husband and daughter is critically ill; her thoughts and reasonings regarding her circumstances" by wooperts (see profile) 01/13/07

  "Only recommend for those experiencing loss..." by lerafox1 (see profile) 01/28/07

This books is decent. It kept me sufficienty interested the day I read it. But I was very glad when it ended. I found it interesting at times but rambling at others. My book club would be depressed and the discussion would be limited as I view this.

I also found that Didion had an unrealistic view of the life of the average person. Her fame, money, name dropping, etc. got on my nerves after a while. Am I seriously supposed to invest in the death of this man when I don't take the main character seriously? Her diatribe on self-pity never resolves itself. Instead she remains a very self-pitying character in her own mind.

  "Amazing, beautifully written account of the author's process of grieving for her husband while overseeing the care of her critically ill daughter. Very moving." by scribread (see profile) 02/05/07

  "It provided a very spirited discussion about the experience of grief and mourning." by mcgovernweslee (see profile) 03/21/07

This is a book that I will read many times. I was very moved by the book when I read it over a year ago. I found it equally engaging when I read it again last week prior to our meeting. Ms Didion conveys the depth of her grief upon losing her husband and yet there is nothing "sentimental" about the narrative. It is a wonderful tribute to their marriage and parenthood. I recommended that our book club read the book in spite of protests that it would be too depressing. I did not find the book depressing but rather descriptive of a universal experience and perhaps offering anticipatory guidance. Ms Didion expresses her unique experience and emphasizes that it is unique and that mourning doesn't follow any "fast rules". In a sense she "gives" permission to express the many emotions that follow the death of a loved one and to be less concerned about what "others" might think. I did not think that there was much "self pity" rather that there was a moving forward with life but life in a different way and with a tremendous loss of support.

  "Cannot relate to the author. Not depressing, just dull." by lialegab (see profile) 03/27/07

This book was probably very therapeutic for the author; however, I can't understand how anyone else could benefit from reading it. Ms. Didion's journey of mourning her husband's death is a very personal story and she tells it with great honesty. She describes somewhat interesting phenomena which occur within her own mind; subconscious tricks to shield herself from difficult memories. The repetition of these events and inconsistent timeline are difficult and frustrating to follow. Death and loss are very personal issues that everyone deals with differently; therefore, I do not see even the grieving reader benefitting from the book. I was unable to empathize or relate to the author in any way. In fact, toward the end, I just wanted her to stop.

  "touching, extraordinarily insightful" by juliamo (see profile) 05/01/07

deeply moving and strait from the gut, joan didion bravely chronicles her first year of widowhood. i could truly relate to her "magical thinking" and had a great deal of empathy for a woman whose life is vastly different than my own. she bravely faces her new reality and does not shrink from it- bravo

  "I thought this was a terrible book. I did not relate to the author. We did have a good discussion bashing the book and trying to determine why it is so highly rated." by kbatson (see profile) 05/30/07

  "Memoir of a woman who lost both her husband to a suden heart attack and her daughter within a year." by chorner (see profile) 10/31/07

Abook which some members found depressing, but others found insightful in its comments on death

  "Sudden loss of a spouse and soul mate." by kathaileen (see profile) 12/09/07

After I saw a short article about this book, I decided I would probably have to read it.
The author lost her husband suddenly while her only daughter was in a coma in the hospital. I loved the book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has lost a spouse, parent, or someone close. And, to anyone in a long term marriage or relationship that still has both partners.
As I read it, I thought a lot about my mom and how these would have been her thoughts – if she had not been the first to go. I thought about my dad and, how he is dealing with her absence. I thought about my husband and our marriage and how it would be if one of us lost the other one. Joan Didion’s observations are right on and she communicates them to the reader so we can understand exactly what she means.

  "One of the worst books on grief I have ever read" by ginni (see profile) 12/11/07

I have been a professional grief counselor and educator for more than 22 years and have read hundreds of books on grief. There are so many books which are much better than this both in terms of enlightening and inspiring a grieving person. I think it has done as well as it has only because the author was already well known and had a personal following.

  "Honest and raw emotions" by kj1948 (see profile) 04/14/08

  "What's the big deal about this book?" by tia (see profile) 11/03/08

Most of us in the group (there was one exception) didn't get why this book has won so many awards. We didn't think the writing was all that great and didn't get any new insights from the author about the grieving process or dealing with loss. We felt it was mainly a recitation of what happened without much feeling or insight and that reviewers were really rewarding her body of work and posthumously, her husband. Why the 2 and not 1 rating? Just averaging what our members thought.

  "An account of how a brilliant author moved through grief into mourning." by corron (see profile) 07/26/10

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