10 of Margaret Atwood's Favorite Books

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Author Margaret Atwood attends the 18th Annual LA Times Festival Of Books at USC on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for LA Times)
Source: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Margaret Atwood is brilliant. Margaret Atwood reads lots of books. You want to be brilliant like Margaret Atwood. You want to read the things Margaret Atwood reads.  Well… unfortunately, Margaret Atwood has mostly been kind of evasive about what books are her favorites. On her own website’s FAQ section she answers the question with “I receive an alarming number of requests for my lists of favourites. I generally do not answer this question, as I have a hard time deciding favourites.”

As a fellow book-lover, you, of course, must understand the sentiment. I know my list of favorite books changes roughly every five minutes or so, with one or two books that’ve endured on the list for at least half a decade or so. But even though any book-lover’s list of favorite books is always changing (because we’re always reading!), any book that was once a favorite is at least notable. And despite not answering the question on her own website, Atwood has certainly hinted in interview and fan Q&As about books that influenced or were significant in her life at one time or another. Only Telegraph managed to finagle an actual list out of the writer  once upon a time, but, that’s clearly not going to be enough for the likes of us rabid Atwood fans. And since Atwood herself admits that she has a hard time deciding favorites, we’ll do her the courtesy of making sure this list is nice and long.

So, behold, a list of potentially-favorite-if-not-at-least-significant-at-one-time books that the inimitable Margaret Atwood has some feels for.

Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak

Atwood has mentioned the book on various occasions, noting its significance in her life, saying once that it, “made a deep impression on me.”

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Atwood has often mentioned Wuthering Heights as a book that she held dear in high school and as a book with a great story. She’s even admitted to having had a bit of a (misguided) thing for Heathcliff (and of course Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy) back in those high school days.

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The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson

Atwood recommended this as a book that all young adults should read. “But read the last chapter first,” she said, “because it’s more hopeful.” 

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Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

She wrote a freaking love letter about the show in The Guardian!

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

In an interview with Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times, Atwood told Oates that her interest in the supernatural and gothic probably came from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. “This may or may not have something to do with the fact that in childhood- I think I was about 6- we were given the complete Grimm's Fairy Tales... My sister was terrified of it, but I loved it.”

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Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban 

Atwood is apparently a “big fan” of this one, giving it a particular shout-out in her discussion of science fiction favorites with The Atlantic.

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Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Well, who knows if she actually loves the whole book, but she did cite it once as having the best first line in literature.

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1984 by George Orwell

Atwood often cites the book when talking about the golden age of speculative fiction and the beginning of her love for the genre.

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The Complete Works of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare

She cited The Complete Works of Shakespeare, along with Wuthering Heights and Treasure Island in response to a fan’s question, “What is the one book you wish you had written?”

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Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe

Atwood credits Poe with her inspiration towards poetry. She also particularly cites Poe's story "The Cask of Amontillado", along with Ray Bradbury’s The Martian and (again!) Wuthering Heights as books with “a great story.”

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