My Favorite Margaret Atwood Books

by Josh Hanagarne on January 22, 2011

the handmaids taleAbout eight years ago I was lucky enough to see Margaret Atwood give a reading here in Salt Lake City. The auditorium was packed. I had been a fan of her fiction and non-fiction for as long as I could remember. I think I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in High School, and she won me over with every single word she wrote since then.

I also remember that reading because the woman next to me in line wanted to have her book signed “to Angelo.”

“Do you want to know who Angelo is?” she asked. Before I could answer, she said, “He’s my cat. He loves Margaret Atwood.”

Hmm…

I’ve decided to cheat a bit with this post. Because I love all of her books, they’re all the best to me. So I’m just going to make a list of Margaret Atwood’s books and hopefully some intrepid reader will find the bibliography and enjoy these wonderful works as much as I have. But I haven’t read all of her poetry, and don’t plan on doing so, so I’ll leave that to some other artistic soul.

Long Fiction in chronological order

  • The Edible Woman
  • Surfacing
  • Lady Oracle
  • Life Before Man
  • Bodily Harm
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Cat’s Eye
  • The Robber Bride
  • Alias Grace
  • The Blind Assassin
  • Oryx and Crake (fantastic dystopian book)
  • The Penelopiad (retelling of Odysseus)
  • The Year of the Flood

Short Fiction by Margaret Atwood

  • Dancing Girls
  • Murder In The Dark
  • Bluebeard’s Egg
  • Wilderness Tips
  • Good Bones
  • Good Bones and Simple Murders (this has a amazing introduction)
  • The Labrador Fiasco
  • The Tent
  • Moral Disorder

Non-fiction

  • Survival: A Thematic Guide To Canadian Literature
  • Days of The Rebels
  • Second Words
  • Through The One-Way Mirror
  • Strange Things
  • Negotiating With The Dead (one of my favorite books about writing)
  • Moving Targets: Writing With Intent
  • Payback: Debt And the Shadow Side Of Wealth (combine with Where Does The Money Go? and you get a pretty sobering view of finance)

The end, for now. She writes a lot, and I hope she’ll knock out another few dozen books before she is through.

Josh

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather January 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Cat’s Eye is my hands-down favorite, with Robber Bride coming in a close second. I’ve also read Handmaid’s Tale and Edible Woman. I like her stuff. Thanks for writing the one, Josh, she’s one of my favorite writers, and almost no one I know besides my dad ever talks about her work. I think she’s brilliant!

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jean sampson January 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

She is an awesome poet, too, with some unique and memorable images. One of my “teachers” when I was beginning to write.

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Josh Hanagarne January 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

Jean, I’ve heard that so many times. I’m sure it’s true. I just don’t “get” poetry. I’m trying.

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jean sampson January 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Josh, reading poetry is like having a TV in your head so you can see all the pictures. The pictures might have subtitles in a foreign language and you might not really understand them, but keep watching and soon those pictures will mine your heart and dig into stuff in your past, old tastes and sounds and smells that you can’t quite figure out. But they are still there and the images touch them, stir them around, create other images. You probably should just quit trying to understand poetry and let it just do to you what words that make images can do.. Expect poetry to bring you out of logic and into magic.
Listen to it like you listen to music, because that is what it really is, the music words make when they are marrying images and things that really shouldn’t go together but do because of the absurd and beautiful pathway the words make for them.
And set aside a lot of time for poetry so the right brain can wake up a little. Poetry happens and it takes as long as it takes. But it is SO worth it to keep reading and listening—don’t even mess with understanding it, just enjoy the words. I know you will get it if you just let poetry have its way with you!

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Erin January 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I’ve only read five of Atwood’s books so far, all fiction, but I’m slowly making my way through the rest of her sizable bibliography. I’ve really liked everything I’ve read by her, which is so rare with an author!

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