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Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Favorite Read: The Year of Magical Thinking

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past.

August is Audio Book Appreciation Month, so all my featured books this month will be ones I listened to on audio.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, narrated by Barbara Caruso

Summary (from the publisher):
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. This powerful and moving work 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." With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. The Year of Magical Thinking will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child.

Why I chose this book:
I read this shortly after a friend's baby died, and the book was so moving, touching, and yet Ms. Didion doesn't feel sorry for herself or want anyone's pity, and it helped me to understand a bit more about what my friend was going through. Perhaps a bit raw for someone who's just gone through a terrible loss themselves, but a powerful and heartbreaking story. I actually kept checking the box of this audio, because the narrator's voice wavers just a bit in certain parts and sounded like she was going to cry. I was so convinced that the audio was being read by Ms. Didion, that it took a lot of proof to make me believe otherwise. I was moved to tears myself many times, and I would catch myself holding my breath. I again had many driveway moments where I just couldn't stop listening even though I had reached my destination. It was a beautiful story, wonderfully told. I am terribly sorry it happened, but the literary world is the richer for it. I appreciate Ms. Didion sharing her worst days with us.

4 comments:

Brenna said...

I had this is my hand at the bookstore the other day and opted out of it and got "The Woman Warrior" instead. Next time I'm there I'll get this one. I've only heard good things.

Alyce said...

This sounds so powerful. I think I'd have to be in the right place emotionally to handle listening to it or reading it, but I will keep it in mind.

Carin S. said...

Brenna, the Woman Warrior is also great, so no worries there. But this was a wonderful book. Though as Alyce points out, you have to be in the right mood for it!

nomadreader said...

I loved this one too. I read it before my blogging days, and I had the poor idea to read it on an airplane, so I'm sure my seatmates thought I was loony as I cried throughout most of it. I was captivated by Didion's writing, but I haven't read any of her other work since then. I should get on that!