Joan Didion

Joan Didion was an influential American writer known for her lucid prose style and incisive depictions of social unrest and psychological fragmentation. Her works often explore the themes of individual and social fragmentation, the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos. Didion's notable works include 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem,' 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' and 'Play It as It Lays.' She was recognized for her distinctive blend of narrative journalism and memoir, and her contributions to literature and journalism are widely celebrated.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Play It As It Lays

    The novel centers around a woman named Maria Wyeth, a former model and actress, who is drifting through life in the 1960s Hollywood scene. As she struggles with a failing marriage, a difficult relationship with her daughter, and a career that's spiraling downwards, she grapples with existential despair. Told in a series of fragmented narratives, the story reveals Maria's mental breakdown, her self-destructive behavior, and her desperate attempts to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless world.

    The 419th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem

    This book is a collection of essays that capture the essence of the 1960s in California. It portrays a society in the midst of social and cultural upheaval, as traditional norms are challenged by the counterculture movement. The author explores various themes including morality, self-respect, and the nature of good and evil, while providing a vivid picture of the era through her insightful and incisive observations.

    The 561st Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Year of Magical Thinking

    This book is a raw and honest exploration of grief and mourning, written by a woman who lost her husband of 40 years to a heart attack while their only child lay comatose in the hospital. The narrative delves into the year following her husband's death, a year marked by grief, confusion, and a desperate hope for things to return to normal. The author's poignant reflections on death, love, and loss serve as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

    The 583rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Democracy

    This book offers a critical and insightful view of American politics and society through the lens of a tumultuous love story set amidst the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The narrative follows a wealthy and influential family, their political maneuverings, and their personal struggles. The book explores themes such as the complexity of human relationships, the nature of power and democracy, and the impact of war on individuals and society, all while providing a biting critique of American political life and culture.

    The 3077th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction

    This book is a compilation of seven works of nonfiction that explore the themes of American culture, politics, and landscape. The author's sharp observational skills and distinctive narrative voice provide insightful commentary on a range of topics, from the counterculture of the 1960s to the breakdown of the nuclear family. Her essays are deeply personal, often reflecting on her own experiences and emotions, while also offering a broader critique of society. The collection is a testament to the power of storytelling, both in shaping our understanding of the world and in helping us navigate through life.

    The 4525th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. After Henry

    "After Henry" is a collection of essays that delve into the cultural, political, and social landscapes of America during the late 20th century. The book reflects on the author's personal experiences and observations, offering a poignant critique of the media, the political process, and the shifting dynamics of contemporary society. Through incisive prose, the author explores themes of memory, place, and the complexities of personal relationships, all while paying tribute to a significant personal loss, which serves as a touchstone for the broader exploration of the ways in which personal and public histories intertwine.

    The 5329th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. A Book Of Common Prayer

    This novel explores the tumultuous life of an American woman who finds herself in a fictional Central American country amidst political turmoil and personal tragedy. As she grapples with the disappearance of her revolutionary daughter and the disintegration of her own life, the narrative delves into themes of loss, identity, and the elusive nature of understanding. Through her journey, the protagonist's story becomes a poignant examination of the ways in which individuals seek meaning and connection in a world that often seems indifferent to their struggles.

    The 6221st Greatest Book of All Time