Possibly the best living American essayist and probably the most influential, Didion has always maintained that she doesn’t know what she’s thinking until she writes it down. Yet over the past decade, she’s been writing down more about her own life than ever before. If you want to know about her upbringing, readWhere I Was From, about the delusions of her California pioneer ancestors. If you want to know how she feels about the sudden 2003 death of her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, you can readThe Year of Magical Thinking,her stark but openhearted account of emotional dislocation. And if you want to know how she feels about the drawn-out death of her adopted daughter, Quintana Roo, two years later at the age of 39, you can order her new memoir, Blue Nights, on Amazon.

“I Was No Longer Afraid to Die. I Was Now Afraid Not to Die.” — Boris Kachka, New York magazine

See some #longreads by Joan Didion