We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction (Everyman’s Library)

ISBN: 0307264874
ISBN 13: 9780307264879
By: Joan Didion John Leonard

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Reader's Thoughts


When I was in high school, I read "Goodbye to All That," which still captures the feeling of being young and in New York. I can't think rationally about Joan Didion and I don't want to. This collection shows a lifetime's worth of experiences filtered through clear prose.


I love everything about Joan Didion: her '60s-era coolness, her dark glasses, her vague feminism but I mostly love her writing. I envy it, and tried so hard to imitate it but never succeed. The next best thing is reading all of her essays in one big volume.


Collection of non-fiction writings by Joan Didion. Really appreciated the sections "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" and "The White Album". I admire her writing style but disagreed with some of the content, particularly that morality is subjective ("On Morality"). Didn't really pay attention to her "Political Fictions" part of the book.


All of Joan Didion's nonfiction writing on place, politics, lifestyle, and cultural figures from the 1960s to 2003 together in one volume? What a dream. Her devotion to detail, shrewd observations, and concise, lyrical language does it for me EVERY TIME. In order of my appreciation: "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" captures the counterculture of the sixties, its mood and lifestyle, as symbolized by California, Joan Baez, Haight-Ashbury. Her profile of Joan Baez (“Exactly where…she wants to be seems an open question, bewildering to her”) to Bill Clinton’s impeachment (what she calls “Vichy Washington”). "The White Album" covers the revolutionary politics and “contemporary wasteland” of the late sixties and early seventies, in pieces on the Manson family, the Black Panthers, and Hollywood. Civil war in "Salvador," Miami’s complicity in the Cold War, 1980s political culture in "After Henry," the destruction of American democracy in Political Fictions and the realization that California cannot fulfill dreams in "Where I Was From."


Interesting reading, well-written, but to me only mildly-relevant because of generational difference.


Amazing, brilliant, timeless...and just a little hard to lug around (not to mention that smallish font). I'm just gonna find the individual volumes that comprise this and read them when I'm in the mood for some gorgeous, depressing prose.


I have been reading, and will be reading, this volume for quite awhile. This almost complete collection of Didion's work is contained in one large volume. The packaging in very rich- in that produced to make your libary look impressive type way. It is too heavy to carry around, so I read it a few pages at a time. No matter what the subject, her writing is captivating- the feeling and details just jump off the page. She maintains objectivity while managing to reveal great insight. I am looking forward to the rest...


I rarely read short stories, but I made an exception for this one - for a book group. It's actually not short stories, but essays -- which seem to be a combination of reporting and musing about things and events. She is a terrific writer and the first section in the book is an old collection called "slouching to Bethlehem" that she wrote in the 60s and it is interesting to hear her comments about the 60s knowing what happens in the ensuing 40 years.

Anne Walbridge

Joan Joan Joan! God the woman can write! Some of her essays get a little tiresome as she tries to shock, but you have to remember she was writing them back in the '70s.


"Remember, writers are always selling somebody out." Didion reminds us of this in the opening to her collection of all her previously published nonfiction. And as you read you get the sense that Didion is indeed offering us an honest account of the people and situations described, regardless of how her interviewees may have hoped to have been portrayed.


okay, so i skipped two whole books in here. 1100 pages of disappointment with the world, however magically phrased, is a lot. i just need to move on with my life, so i'm putting it on the read shelf. don't judge me.


Unbelievable book. Incredible collection of many of her non- fiction books and essays including Slouching TB, White Album, Salvador, Miami. A collection every reader should own to underline and reread. There's so much here-- Didion's first book STB sets the high standards for her writing. The iconic White Album- especially the first section-- should be gone over repeatedly for content and Didion's hidden meanings. This is a wonderful book to begin a collection of Didion's as everyone should do.


Since this collection is really half a dozen books in one, I have been reading it in bits since last fall... it's pretty amazing and this junk is totally going to get 5 goodreads stars once I wrap it up. Loved reading 'Salvador', Didion's chilling series of reports from El Salvador in th 80s. Am currently reading (and loving) 'Miami', which highlights to strange history and complexities of a city that is a bridge between two continents. Engrossing stuff - this woman is a genius.

Abby Sominski

I love Joan Didion, I read 'the year of magical thinking' first and all her other stuff afterward, I recommend anything of her's to anyone who asks me what I recommend. This collection conveniently ties it all together ... her writing is masterful!

Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner

Ah, where to begin when it comes to Didion. I adore her. Plus, when she was younger she was totally smokin'! I sh*t you not. Go google some photos of the broad. Hottttttt! And intelligence. I'm a bigger sucker for intelligence. I've read a few of the books in this collection on their own, but once this collected essay edition came out I peed my pants. All of this Didion in one place? It's like a dream come true for me.

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