Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.” (“On Keeping a Notebook”)

Starting off the new year with Didion felt like a breath of fresh air, an expanding of my chest, a clearing of space. Her writing is crisp, clear, striking. It fills me with all of the nostalgia I feel for my current past and all of the nostalgia I know I’ll feel when the now becomes the past of my future self. Her writing makes me think, makes me reflect, makes me question. It makes me homesick for places I’ve never lived (California, New York) and for decades that came and went years before I was born. It makes me want to see everything, experience everything, feel everything. More than anything, it makes me want to write.

This collection includes essays on many, many topics: on California, on keeping a notebook, on self-respect, on morality, on traveling away from and towards one’s home. My favorite essay in this collection is “On Keeping a Notebook.” Reading this essay made me feel seen. She articulated a personal practice I’ve kept nearly all my life–keeping notebooks, jotting down thoughts, preserving memories, writing to make sense of the ever-growing collage of my mind. It’s something I do instinctively, something I don’t have to think too hard about. And I always feel so much better for having done so.

Is this my year of soaking up all the Didion I can get my hands on? I hope so.

What’s your favorite Didion book/essay collection? I’d love to know.

Take care xx

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