Joan Didion – Favorite Books

The favorite books of author, journalist, and screenwriter Joan Didion are examined below.  During her senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, Didion won the Prix de Paris, a yearly contest sponsored by Vogue whereby all seniors at accredited colleges throughout the United States are invited to submit writing entires.  Following her first place finish, Didion accepted a position as research assistant with the magazine where she worked for seven years.  During this time, Didion wrote her first novel, Run, River, which was published in 1963.  Didion’s heralded second novel, Play It as It Lays, was published in 1970.  The novel is widely considered one of the best novels of the 20th century and was included in Time’s list of 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 – 2005.  Other works by Didion include the novels A Book of Common Prayer (1977), Democracy (1984), and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996) and the essays Salvador (1983), Miami (1987), and Where I Was From (2003).  In 2005, Didion was awarded the National Book Award for Non-Fiction for the publication of The Year of Magical Thinking. We recommend checking out the documentary, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, which was released on Netflix in 2017.

The following list derived from a hand-written note in Didion’s personal journal, wherein she listed her favorite books of all time.  For more information on any of the books below, feel free to click on the associated image (via Amazon).


A Farewell to Arms



Down and Out in Paris and London


Wuthering Heights

The Good Soldier (A Tale of Passion)

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Crime and Punishment

Appointment in Samarra

The Executioner’s Song

The Novels of Henry James


Go Tell It on the Mountain

Notes of a Native Son

The Berlin Stories

Collected Poems (Robert Lowell)

Collected Poems (W.H. Auden)

Collected Poems (Wallace Stevens)

*    *    *

We strongly recommend checking out the following works by Didion:

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