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Joan Didion Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Run River (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Play It as It Lays (1970) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Book of Common Prayer (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Democracy (1984) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Last Thing He Wanted (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Vintage Didion (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The White Album (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Salvador (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Miami (1987) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Some Women (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
After Henry (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sentimental Journeys (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Perspectives On the Individual (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Political Fictions (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fixed Ideas (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Where I Was From (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Live and Learn (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Blue Nights (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Insider Baseball (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
South and West (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Collected Essays (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The American writer Joan Didion, an institution in her own right, would come to encapsulate much of the sixties, with her reporting during that decade. Over the years she has become something of a figurehead for a new age of journalism, one that would combine factual reporting with more literary methods. Known for her creative non-fiction, she would coax the subject out, bringing it to life for the reader in a manner that many still attempt to replicate to this very day.

She would come to write fictional novels as well, with many of her stories being largely influenced by own life and experiences. It would be her style of journalism that she’d become best known for though, pioneering a new way in the world of reporting. This would pave the way for many writers to follow in her footsteps, as her legacy continues to be felt, with her still writing to this day.

Early and Personal Life

Born in 1934 on the 5th of December, Joan Didion would grow up in the area of Sacramento in California, which would come to have a big effect on her and her writing. Writing from as young as five, she would always be interested in the written word, reading everything she possibly could throughout her childhood. Constantly found with her head in a book, she would overcome her shyness and anxiety through the public speaking and acting.

Moving around a lot as a child, her father was in the military during the second World War, and this would lead to a feeling of dislocation for her as a young girl. Later in 1956 she would graduate from the University of California in Berkley, gaining a BA degree in English studies. This, along with winning an essay competition to work for Vogue during her senior year, would pave the way to a successful literary career.

Working for Vogue after leaving university, she would start out as a copywriter there, before rising up through the ranks. In time she would become a feature editor, and it wasn’t long until she’d go on to publish her first novel ‘Run River’ in 1963. Then, later in 1968, she would publish her non-fiction title ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’, which would be a collection of magazine pieces from her time spent in California.

Meeting the writer John Gregory Dunne, he would help edit her first novel, as the two of them would marry one year later in 1964. Living together in California, she’d enjoy a successful literary career, and later they’d both move to Manhattan, collaborating on novels and screenplays all the while. In 2003 her husband passed and then in 2005 so did her daughter Quintana, but Joan remains strong to this day, still writing with a strong legacy and body of work behind her.

Writing Career:

Publishing her first debut novel in 1963, Joan Didion would mark her entry onto the literary scene with the novel ‘Run River’. This would establish her as a name to watch, but it was her 1968 work of creative non-fiction titled ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ that would really make her name. Many leading publications and reviewers would note its style, wit and intelligence, setting her up as an author with much to say.

Later she would also go on to write screenplays, including an adaptation of her own 1970 novel ‘Play It As It Lays’. Often collaborating with her husband, the two of them would work to produce many great pieces as well, all of which would be well received. Winning various awards, including the 1996 ‘Edward MacDowell Medal’, and the 2002 ‘St. Louis Literary Award’, she’s not without critical acclaim. Highly regarded by readers worldwide, her name has inspired many, and will continue to do so for many years to come yet.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

As a collection of essays based on Didion’s time in the sixties, this looks at California during that time and what the counter-culture was really all about. Getting behind the myths of the period, it lays bare the reality of the era like no other writer could, giving the truth in a direct and matter of fact style. Documenting sixties America it doesn’t leave anything out, reading in an extremely personal and intimate manner that definitely gets under the skin. Not just for those interested in the time, it’s accessible to all readers with its easy to read passages that continue to resonate.

First published in 1968, this would fast become a modern classic, with it being hailed as a stylistic masterpiece. Featuring stories of barricades and social upheaval, there’s everything from kidnapping to mass murders. Getting behind the revolution, this is a must for anyone wanting to understand the history of America and its progress during the twentieth century.

Play It As It Lays

Originally published in 1970, this would become a hugely influential fictional title from the writer Joan Didion. Seen as one of the great novels of its era, this would sum up the feelings of many living at that time, with much of it still ringing true. Looking at the ways in which a new generation were navigating a modern world that was rapidly changing, it documents period effectively. It would also come to be made into a film in 1972, directed by Frank Perry, with the screenplay written by Joan and her husband at the time John Gregory Dunne.

Breaking down the feelings of a generation, this looks at life in the late sixties, as it follows Maria Wyeth trying to make sense of her life. Now divorced from her husband and in her early thirties, Maria is feeling disconnected from her friends, life and her own emotions. Coping with her ennui, she’s now a fading actress living in Hollywood, as she attempts to find meaning and reason in her own life. The book itself has stood as a testament to the period it was written within, still as relevant today as it ever was, marking one of the best that Didion has to offer.

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