10 Best Margaret Atwood Books You Must Read

If you are in search of some best books by Margaret Atwood, you have come to the right place. In this article, we have compiled a list of ten popular Margaret Atwood books you should read if you are a fan of her writings.

Margaret Atwood, a Canadian best-known and prominent writer was born on November 18, 1939. She has contributed all the field of literacy. Since 1961, she has published 18 poetry books, 18 novels, 11 non-fiction, 8 children’s books, and two graphic novels.

Margaret Atwood has won numerous awards and honors for her literary contribution including two Booker Prizes, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Franz Kafka Awards, etc.

10 Best Jane Austen Books

We recommend the following books if you are looking for some of the best books by Margaret Atwood:

1. The Circle Game

The Circle Game by Margaret Atwood

In the year 1964, Margaret Atwood released her first full-length poetry book named The Circle Game. Atwood writes compassionately about the perils of romantic love in the digital era and the search for identity in an unreliable cosmos. The verses in these poems have a witty, humorous, vulnerable, and incisive voice.

Containing many of Atwood’s best and most famous poems, in 1966, Atwood won her first major literary award, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry with The Circle Game.  This book made her official debut on the Canadian literary scene.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is the iconic dystopian fiction novel by Margaret Atwood, published in 1985 by McClelland and Stewart. It takes place in a near-future New England in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian theocracy that has toppled the American government and is markedly patriarchal.

Offred is the main character and narrator of the story. She is one of the “handmaids,” a class of women who are compelled to bear children for the men who control Gilead.

The novel examines issues such as how women are oppressed in patriarchal societies, how women lose their agency and uniqueness, how women’s reproductive rights are curtailed, and the different ways that women struggle and try to become independent.

“The Handmaid’s Tale deserves the highest praise.” —San Francisco Chronicle 

A handmaid in the Republic of Gilead is Offred. She is allowed to leave the Commander and his wife’s house once a day to go by foot to the grocery markets, whose signs now have images instead of words because women are no longer permitted to read.

Because Offred and the other Handmaids are only valuable if their ovaries are functional at a time of diminishing births, she must lay on her back once a month and pray that the Commander gets her pregnant. Offred can recall the previous years when she had a job, her own money, and access to information. She can also recall the earlier years when she had a daughter and played with and protected her.

“A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex . . . Just as the world of Orwell’s 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood’s handmaid!” —The Washington Post Book World

The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, 1986 Booker Prize, and 1987 Prometheus Award before winning the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987.

A 1990 movie, a 2000 opera, a 2017 television series, and other works of media have all made adaptations of the novel.

3. The Testaments

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments a 2019 novel by Margaret Atwood, is a sequel to Atwood’s iconic literary work The Handmaid’s Tale, published in 1985. With the explosive testimonies of three female narrators from Gilead, Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the drama more than fifteen years after Offred went into the unknown.

Margaret Atwood’s stunning sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale solves the mysteries that have tantalized readers for decades.

“The international literary event of the season.” —Globe and Mail

The narrative alternates between the views of three women, given as excerpts from one’s manuscript (the Ardua Hall Holograph) and testimonials from the other two.

Agnes Jemima, the adoptive daughter of Commander Kyle and his wife Tabitha, is growing up in Boston fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. Agnes has a love connection with Tabitha, who dies of illness later in life.

Agnes and her classmates Becka and Shunammite attend an elite preparatory school for Commanders’ daughters, where they learn to maintain a home but not to read.

“The literary event of the year.” —The Guardian

The book ends with a metafictional epilogue that Professor James Darcy Pieixoto gave to the Thirteenth Symposium on Gileadean Studies in 2197 as a partial transcript. The difficulties in confirming the validity of the Ardua Hall Holograph and the two witness transcripts by Agnes and Nicole are discussed by him.

He also suggests that Offered from the last book could be Agnes and Nicole’s mother, though he acknowledges that he isn’t certain. He ends by recounting the statue that was erected to honor Becka for her deeds, and how Agnes, Nicole, their spouses and kids, their mother, and their respective dads were there for its dedication.

The Testaments was on the longlist for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize alongside British author Bernardine Evaristo. The book was also shortlisted for the 2020 Fiction Book of the Year in the British Book Awards.

4. Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace is a historical fiction written by renowned Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, published in 1996 by McClelland and Stewart. The infamous 1843 killings of Thomas Kinnear and his servant Nancy Montgomery in Canada West are fictionalized in the narrative.

James McDermott and Grace Marks, two Kinnear household workers, were found guilty of the crime. Marks received a life sentence while McDermott was executed.

A group of reformers and spiritualists looking for Grace’s forgiveness hire a young specialist in the developing field of mental illness. While getting her closer to the day she can’t recall, he listens to her narrative. What will he learn while trying to access her memories?

A very intriguing and unsettling tale from the previous century is reclaimed in Alias Grace, a masterfully created work of fiction.

Margaret Atwood explores the sometimes-complicated relationships between men and women, as well as between the wealthy and those in lower positions, with empathy, unsentimental poetry, and her normal narrative skill.

In other words, it’s classic Atwood, and it’s her most engrossing, unsettling, and ultimately fulfilling book since The Handmaid’s Tale.

Alias Grace will be turned into a feature picture, Sarah Polley stated in 2012. Later, this developed into a miniseries that was shown on CBC Television in Canada in October and November 2017 and is now available to stream internationally on Netflix.

Ball State University premiered a stage version of Alias Grace in 2016.

5. Oryx And Crake

Oryx And Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction and adventure romance novel by Margaret Atwood, published in 2003. The story’s main character is a lonesome guy named Snowman who is left alone in a desolate environment with only monsters called Crakers for companionship.

The reader learns about his history as a young man named Jimmy and about genetic research and pharmacological engineering that Glenn “Crake,” Jimmy’s classmate, oversaw.

“Atwood has long since established herself as one of the best writers in English today, but Oryx and Crake may well be her best work yet. . . . Brilliant, provocative, sumptuous and downright terrifying.” —The Baltimore Sun

Oryx and Crake is both a heartwarming love story and a riveting look into the future. In a world where he could be the only person alive, Snowman, formerly known as Jimmy, is fighting for survival while grieving the deaths of his closest buddy Crake, and the lovely but elusive Oryx that they both adored.

With the aid of the green-eyed Children of Crake, Snowman travels across the lush wilderness that was once a magnificent metropolis before ruthless companies that drove humanity on an unrestrained genetic engineering ride in quest of answers. Margaret Atwood imagines a near future for us that is both all too real and unimaginable.

Majestic. . . . Keeps us on the edges of our seats.” —The Washington Post

It was included on the shortlists for both the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction and the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The Year of the Flood (2009), Oryx and Crake, and MaddAddam make up the MaddAddam trilogy (2013).

6. The Year Of The Flood

The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood

In the year 2009, Atwood published the second book of her dystopian trilogy in Canada. The book centers on God’s Gardeners, a tiny group of survivors of the same biological catastrophe that Atwood had described in her book Oryx and Crake.

The social contract is deteriorating at the same rate as environmental stability since the times and species have been changing rapidly.

Adam One has long foreseen a natural calamity that will change Earth as we know it. Adam One is the gentle leader of God’s Gardeners, a religion committed to the fusion of science and religion and protecting all plant and animal life. It has now happened, wiping off the majority of human life.

Ren, a teenage trapeze dancer trapped within the exclusive sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener trapped inside an opulent spa where many of the treatments are edible, are the only two survivors.

Has anyone else survived? Amanda, a fellow bio artist with Ren? Zeb, her environmentalist stepfather? Jimmy, who was formerly her lover? Or the deadly Painballers, survivors of the Painball jail that practiced mutual extinction?

The book was both longlisted for the 2010 Trillium Book Award and nominated for the 2011 International Dublin Literary Award 2010.

7. The Edible Woman

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

The writing through which Atwood became known as a prose writer to the people of the world is The Edible Woman. It is her first novel published in 1969 by McClelland and Stewart.

The release of this book occurred at the same time as the growth of the women’s movement in North America, but because it was written in 1965 and so predated second-wave feminism, Atwood labels it as “protofeminist.”

“Atwood has the magic of turning particular and parochial into the universal.” —The Times (London)

The Edible Woman tells the tale of a young woman named Marian, whose rational, the orderly, consumer-focused world begins to blur. Marian feels as though her body and herself are drifting apart after becoming engaged.

Marian starts giving food with human characteristics that make her relationship with it, and as a result, she finds herself repulsed by metaphorical cannibalism and unable to eat.

A humorous and compelling book about emotional cannibalism, men and women, and the desire to be devoured, The Edible Woman explores these themes.

8. The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In 2005, Margaret Atwood published a novella named The Penelopiad as part of the Canongate Myth Series where authors rewrite ancient myths. The book was translated into 28 languages and released simultaneously around the world by 33 publishers.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope—Odysseus’ wife and the cousin of the stunning Helen of Troy—is presented as the model of a devoted wife, and her life serves as an inspiration for women throughout history.

Penelope manages to uphold the kingdom of Ithaca, raise her wayward son, and deter over a hundred suitors while being left alone for twenty years when Odysseus departs to fight in the Trojan War following the kidnapping of Helen.

Odysseus endures trials, defeats monsters, and sleeps with deities before returning home, where he kills her suitors and, interestingly, twelve of her maids.

Margaret Atwood has given a wonderfully modern spin to the old tale by recounting it to Penelope and her twelve hung maids while posing the question, “What caused the hanging of the women, and what was Penelope really up to?”

The tale becomes as smart and sympathetic as it is terrifying in Atwood’s sparkling, whimsical retelling, yet it also becomes just as outrageously hilarious as it is unsettling.

She gives Penelope new life and realism with humor and energy, drawing on the storytelling and literary talent for which she is herself known, and she sets out to solve an old mystery.

9. Cat’s Eye

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

In the year 1988 Atwood published Cat’s Eye. In this book, Margaret Atwood creates the character of Elaine Risley, a contentious painter, who returns to Toronto, the city of her upbringing, for a retrospective of her work in the film Cat’s Eye.

She recalls a group of girls who introduced her to the competitive politics of youth and its covert world of friendship, yearning, and treachery as she is overcome by vivid memories from the past.

“Nightmarish, evocative, heartbreaking.” —The New York Times Book Review

Elaine has to accept who she is as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman, but most of all, she needs to find relief from her traumatic experiences. Cat’s Eye is a magnificent story about a lady trying to sort out the tangled webs of her life. It is unsettling, funny, and empathetic.

“A brilliant, three-dimensional mosaic…the story of Elaine’s childhood is so real and heartbreaking you want to stand up in your seat and cheer.” —Boston Sunday Globe

The story takes place in Canada in the middle of the 20th century, from World War II until the late 1980s, and takes a close look at many of the cultural trends of the time, such as feminism and several modern art movements.

The book was a finalist for the 1988 Governor General’s Award and the 1989 Booker Prize.

10. The Robber Bride

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The Robber Bride is a 1993 novel written by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. The Brothers Grimm story “The Robber Bridegroom,” in which a wicked groom seduces three maidens and devours them one at a time, served as the inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s novel The Robber Bride.

But in Atwood’s adaptation, the monster is beautifully recast as Zenia, a villainous figure of demon-like dimensions, and she is let loose in the lives of three friends: Tony, Charis, and Roz.

To their former college friend Zenia, all three of them “have lost men, energy, money, and time.” Zenia has crept into their lives at various points and under various emotional guises, virtually destroying them.

Zenia is “a lurking enemy commando” to Tony, who nearly lost her spouse and ruined her academic career. Zenia is referred to be “a cold and nasty bitch” by Roz, who did lose her husband and nearly her magazine.

Zenia seems like a type of zombie to Charis, who also lost a partner, many quarts of vegetable juice, and several pet chickens (Lorrie Moore, New York Times Book Review). Zenia’s underground malevolence delves far into the pasts of her adversaries in matters of love and war, illusion, and deceit.

Hope you like the article. If you have any questions about this article or if you think Atwood’s other book should be on the list, please feel free to comment here and we will update the list accordingly. Thank you so much for reading this article.

Hussain M

Hussain M is a Co-Founder and Writer for ReadersRader.com, who loves reading dystopian novels, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and creative non-fiction books.

Recent Posts