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The Year of Magical Thinking Audiobook

The Year of Magical Thinking

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2005

"Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

The weeks and months that followed "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck...about marriage and children and memory...about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad, will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child.

Listen to Joan Didion's full-hour interview with Charlie Rose.

©2005 Joan Didion; (P)2005 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Biography/Memoir
  • National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, Autobiography, 2005

"Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays....This is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Year of Magical Thinking is not a downer. On the contrary. Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (1946 )
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4.1 (992 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ray Stewart 07-27-15
    Ray Stewart 07-27-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
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    "Heartbreakingly Honest"

    Written with all the emotions involved in trying to live with the death of a spouse. And on top of that, dealing with a critically ill daughter. Amazing that the author could write about such traumatic events in her life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Vazquez 03-10-15 Member Since 2009
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    "Stands one"

    There is no other book that approaches grief from this angle, she observes without laying out prescriptions, like a testimony.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne A. Wood Abilene, TX 02-25-15
    Marianne A. Wood Abilene, TX 02-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Helpful + Beautifully Written and Read"

    This beautifully written and artfully narrated first person memoir delivered what the title promised: a reflection of truly magical thinking.

    I began listening to it as my father lay ill after a long and active life. During the course of my listening, I worked on domestic tasks and painting in my studio. These tasks help me concentrate, and I knew that I needed to concentrate, to learn from Joan...for days ahead.

    I finished The Year of Magical Thinking about a week after my dad's funeral and while waiting for my mother to return from a short stay with my sister. By hearing Joan's progress, I feel that I can help my mother begin hers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MrMonterrubio 02-18-15
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    "A life changer."

    An amazing narrative by Joan Didion and the process of grief on her husbands dead. It literally make me change the way I live my life.

    The only flaw is the horrible music at the end of each chapter. It totally screws up the narration and the felling of the text.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 02-03-15
    John 02-03-15
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    "A Compelling Story"
    Would you listen to The Year of Magical Thinking again? Why?

    I would listen to this book again. I'm certain I would find different meanings as I grow older and have new experiences.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 02-01-15
    Anne 02-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Very helpful and realistic"

    As a event widow this book made a lot of sense
    No one expects the fear and bewilderment that follows a death of your husband but knowing that what you are feeling is to be expected helps
    .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tadhg Kelly London, UK 01-09-15
    Tadhg Kelly London, UK 01-09-15 Member Since 2013

    tadhgk

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    "Ditch the music"

    Every sections last couple of minutes are over-dubbed with cheesy music that make it hard to hear the actual text. Boo.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juli glendale, CA, United States 12-20-14
    Juli glendale, CA, United States 12-20-14 Member Since 2015
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    "soothing through my divorce."

    highly recommend. Barbara Caruso does and excellent job narrating. doesn't miss a beat. Joan Didion did an amazing job in writing the story despite the fact she didn't have her husband to assist her with the editing process. just... an amazing book. one of my favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theresa J Keynton 07-21-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Great writing and narration."
    Would you listen to The Year of Magical Thinking again? Why?

    I have listened several times and love this book more each time I listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The writing is so lovely, almost lyrical.


    What about Barbara Caruso’s performance did you like?

    Barbara Caruso's performance is wonderful, I can listen to her while driving, walking, or while trying to fall asleep. She has a lovely voice which is ideally matched for this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie United States 06-19-14
    Debbie United States 06-19-14 Member Since 2016

    Well researched thrillers Chriton-esque. Nonfiction: Science, medical, biography, "self-help" meta cognitive sub-genre, memoir, philosophy..

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant! Compelling ... Riveting Journey 8*s"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Year of Magical Thinking to be better than the print version?

    In a way. The book lends well to hearing vs. seeing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Joan Didion of course! This is a memoir of her year. The year after her husband & partner 24/7 of 40 years suddenly died. It is intimate, transparent and very "her." Amazing writing. It is beyond humbling to even consider I could write a review of a book by the author who is largely considered to be the best essayist of a generation.


    What does Barbara Caruso bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She does an excellent job with pacing and phrasing. Her tone is true to the content. Impressive. The wrong narrator would create a very poor experience with this book. Caruso was clear and so easy on the ears.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Please no!!! Do not let anyone make a movie of this book!!


    Any additional comments?

    A quote nearing the end of Joan's year of "magical thinking" - grief, passion, strength...


    ".... [the string of lights] burned out - went dead. This served as a symbol. I bought new strings of colored lights. This served as a profession of faith in the future. I take the opportunity for such professing's, where and when, I can invent them, since I do not yet actually feel this faith in the future.I notice I have lost the skills for ordinary social encounters, however undeveloped those skills may have been a year ago."


    --Joan Didion

    "The Year of Magical Thinking"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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