6 books that hurt so good

2. The Year of Magical Thinking


Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking is stunning; there is no other word for it – except for heartbreaking. This autobiographical book describes the period around Christmas 2003 when Didion’s daughter Quintana was struck a with life-threatening medical condition. After coming home from the hospital's intensive care unit where Quintana was being treated, Didion and her husband, author John Gregory Dunne, were preparing dinner when Dunne suddenly suffered a massive coronary and died. This book is Didion's vivid study of grief and mourning told through her personal narrative of John's death and Quintana's illness, and the result is a flawless meditation on both loss and the life from which it draws its power. It is also a portrait of an extraordinary marriage. As Didion writes, "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." The pages of this book practically tremble with emotion, the prose leave you feeling raw. Didion’s deceptively simple prose gets deep inside you, and her writing becomes unshakable. Intensely personal, utterly universal, this book changed the way I read.

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