On My Shelf: Margaret Atwood

On My Shelf is a new monthly meme started by KJ Mulder over at Worlds in Ink and it’s all about sharing the books on your shelf in alphabetical order, according to author. For July we’re kicking off with A & B. It’s a very chilled-out meme, so you can plan it in any way you like, and post at any time of the month, any number of times you like. And who doesn’t like to show off some of their books?

It’s the end of the month already so the first part of this meme is nearly over, but I actually made the effort to photograph most of my A & B titles, so I’m going to do three more of these posts, just because I feel like it and don’t want to waste the photos. First off, is one of my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood. I first read Atwood for a postmodernism course during third year. The novel was Surfacing, which I didn’t like at all. But then during honours my thesis supervisor suggested I try Oryx and Crake, as Atwood’s sci fi is more interesting than her other fiction (at least for the purposes of my thesis, and for sf fans). I absolutely loved Oryx and Crake and went on to read  The Handmaid’s Tale, which was brilliant as well. I gave Atwood’s other fiction a second chance, and really enojoyed some of it, while others left me as cold as Surfacing. Nevertheless, I bought many of her works, mostly second-hand or at book sales.

First, my favourites, Atwood’s SF novels.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985, Vintage Future Classics edition) was the first book I bought with my staff discount when I was working at Exclusive Books. Oryx and Crake (2003) I bought in paperback (Virago) to use for my thesis. I found the hardcover (Bloomsbury) some time later at an Exclusive Books sale, and couldn’t resist taking it. I love hardcovers, but usually can’t afford them, so it’s wonderful to find them at sales. I don’t particularly like the dust-jacket cover of this one, but the cover of the book itself is really cool, as it features the glow-in-the-dark rabbits from the novel:

I also have a beautiful hardcover edition of The Year of the Flood (2009), but it was a very impractical purchase – I picked it up at Paperweight while in Cape Town, shortly before I had to leave for Ethiopia, and because the book was heavy I left it with my parents. I’ll get it back next time I go home.


Next up, Alias Grace (1996) and The Robber Bride (1993), both published by Seal Books.

Of Atwood’s non-sf works, The Robber Bride is my favourite. The title is based on one of Grimm’s fairy tales, “The Robber Bridegroom” (Atwood often uses fairytales and folklore in her work). Both novels were bought at a charity bookshop in Rondebosch Main Road. I used to visit the bookshop quite often, as it was very close to campus. One day I was very happy to find several Atwood works on the shelf, and bought all of them.


Surfacing (1972, Virago), Bodily Harm (1981, Anchor Books) and Cat’s Eye (1988, Virago). Surfacing I bought for varsity, either at Van Schaik’s or the campus bookstore. Bodily Harm I acquired through Bookmooch; Cat’s Eye I got at the charity bookstore as part of that Atwood haul. I disliked both Surfacing and Bodily Harm, but I can’t bear to give either away, if only because they’re part of the collection. Anyway, I might one day change my mind about them. Cat’s Eye  on the other hand is one of my favourites, a brilliant if disturbing story about bullying among young girls and how it affects one woman into adulthood.


Dancing Girls(1977), The Edible Woman (1969) and Bluebeard’s Egg (1983), all Virago. I have to admit I haven’t read any of them yet, although I’ve read a few of the stories collected in Bluebeard’s Egg. The Edible Woman I acquired through Bookmooch. Dancing Girls and Bluebeard’s Egg I got at the charity bookshop.


Curious Pursuits (2005, Virago) is a collection of essays, reviews and other writing by Atwood, from 1970 to 2005. I bought the paperback a few years ago, and then found the hardcover at an EB sale last year and gave the paperback away on Bookmooch. I don’t know how to describe Bones and Murder (1995) and The Tent (2006). They contain very short, short fiction, that are more like fictional musings than regular stories. However, they have some great insights and imagery. Bones and Murder is drawn from two of Atwood earlier works, Good Bones  and Murder in the Dark. I bought it at the charity bookshop. The Tent  found at an EB sale (you can still see the sticker).

Finally, a book that’s not by Atwood but rather about her work:

Acquired through Bookmooch. I haven’t read this yet, but I intend to do so one day, and (re)read her fiction as well.

Having done this post I’ve also realised how many Virago editions I have of Atwood’s work. I really like the newer ones (the editions of Surfacing, Cat’s Eye and Curious Pursuits) so if I were every to get a collection of matching novels, I’d choose those.

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