Joan Didion has one of the most distinctive writing styles of the 21st century. Sentence for sentence, her controlled, yet searingly honest tone has made her a literary legend. For her confessional accounts of grief, self-respect and loss, there is also a coolness, a crispness to everything she writes. Didion's aloofness (and innate sense of style) only intensify our fascination with her, which is why - when she shared her reading list back in 2015 - it quickly went viral.
She scrawled her the titles of her 10 favourite books on a piece of notepaper, gave it to her nephew Griffin Dunne, who in turn shared it with Brainpickings.org. If you're in need of reading inspiration, who better to take advice from than one of the greatest living writers?
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Victory by Joseph Conrad
- Guerrillas by V.S. Naipaul
- Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
- Wonderland by Joyce Carol Oates
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
- The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
- The Novels of Henry James: Washington Square, Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, The Golden Bowl, Daisy Miller, The Aspern Papers, The Turn of the Screw
- Speedboat by Renata Adler
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
- The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
- Collected Poems by Robert Lowell
- Collected Poems by W.H. Auden
- The Collected Poems by Wallace Stevens
For more insights into Didion's world, don't miss Netflix's documentary, The Centre Will Not Hold, which was released in 2017 and made by her nephew, Griffin.
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