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
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.
The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
She wrote a freaking love letter about the show in The Guardian!
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.”
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.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
1984 by George Orwell
The Complete Works of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
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.”