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Woman: An Intimate Geography

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,883 ratings  ·  303 reviews
With the clarity, insight, and sheer exuberance of language that make her one of The New York Times's premier stylists, Pulitzer Prize-winner Natalie Angier lifts the veil of secrecy from that most enigmatic of evolutionary masterpieces, the female body. Angier takes readers on a mesmerizing tour of female anatomy and physiology that explores everything from organs to orga ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 15th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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This was a weird one. On the one hand, the actual information contained in the book was fascinating and important. I learned a lot about ovulation, for example, and menopause, and breasts, and enjoyed the learning immensely.

But the prose. I suspect lines like, "by Hecate!" and, "the Grand Canyon, the world's grandest vagina," are meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I just found them off-putting. Some of this is I think par for the course with feminists of a certain age (the book is PACKED
I wanted to like this book. Oh, how I wanted to. And I will say, it was packed with interesting information. I did learn a few things. I shared any anecdote or theory my husband would listen to.

But, I finally got fed up with her writing style. This writer cannot pass up any chance for wordplay, puns, double entendre, thesaurus-izing, or clever euphemism. Since I'm such a word-lover, you might think this was a good thing, but I couldn't get past it. I found it annoying, stupid, distracting, flip
Aug 14, 2007 Kara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women interested in knowing more about their bodies
When I first read this, I was enamored with it - so much so that I was about ready to drop my business major and start majoring in Women's Studies! Luckily my dad stepped in on that one. ;)

This book is great and is written with a witty tone to it that only a fellow woman could have. It's frustrating to go through life being told how your body *should* act, by panels of men, no less. I felt like I could related to this book because it was written by someone who not only cared enough to research
An informative investigation into female physiology. I know I sound like a dunce when I say this, but I’ve never been into science. Didn’t do well in it at school and never found it particularly interesting. This book has been on my “to read” list for a while -- I even bought a copy for a friend as a gift, at her request, years ago. I finally got around to reading it. It was a tough read for me in a couple of ways. I had to overcome my distaste for science, I am opposed to testing on animals and ...more
Tracy Rhodes
This book taught me so much about what it means to be a woman from a physiological perspective. Angier writes in a witty, conversational style - not condescendingly, but in a way that keeps the reader willing to stick with her through some pretty hard-core biological science stuff. Just as importantly, she talks about the psychology of women and how we relate to our bodies and their sometimes mysterious ways. Every woman should read this book (and men who want to know more about what makes women ...more
Philip Same
Into some books the reader will fall, mi amor, mi amor, but into others he will step, an ordure! And the stench which is disclosed, then, assaults one, causes one aches and pains, causes one, or two, or three, to forswear that which was hitherto embraced.

I was given the impression that Miss Angier does not write about what she knows, rather writes about what she would like to one day learn, writes not about what is so, but what she would like to be so. Little landing is cleared for a writer's in
May 09, 2007 Genya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone but especially my sister and mother if they haven't already read it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is such a great book. I just reread it. It is all about the biology of the female body, but it is funny, brilliant, totally accessible, and a little subversive. Her first paragraph reads, "This book is a celebration of the female body - its anatomy, its chemistry, its evolution, and its laughter. It is a personal book, my attempt to find a way to think about the biology of being female without falling into the sludge of biological determinism. It is a book about things that we traditionally ...more
Oct 07, 2010 Sidewalk_Sotol rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sidewalk_Sotol by:
I could see giving this book 3 stars. It really depends on what you're looking for. I tried to use this book as a supplement to my anatomy & physiology textbook. Not a good idea. I did not get to finish it, but since the organization of the book depends only a bit on linear reading, there is not too much lost by not getting to the conclusive chapter.

What Natalie Angier does well is pull together a lot of different perspectives of feminist or feminist sympathetic researchers into one volume
May 30, 2010 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women, people who know women
Shelves: health-medicine
I loved this book but found it challenging and eventually had to assign myself 5-10 pages a day. Every paragraph of Angier's study of women's physiology is packed with enough scientific concepts and ideas to fuel a half-day discussion, and she is one of those writers who makes you use your dictionary, who makes you think, and who also makes you think "I could never write that." She starts with a study of the human egg cell and takes you into the operating room where a woman is donating her eggs. ...more
Best book I read in 2011, by a long shot. Continues to resonate. My dad gave this to me as a present in 2000 or 2001 and naturally I refused to read it. An argument with a friend prompted me to look for an answer in one of its chapters, and I was riveted, started from the beginning and worked my way to the end, intrigued by subjects that had never held any interest at all for me, like menopause, and hormones, and ones I have never seen discussed with half the wit or dynamism, such as female aggr ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Women and girls, especially, but certainly boys and men as well
I recently re-read this book for a book club with female inmates. Direct quote from one of the women: "I didn't even know books like this existed!" I was reminded just how powerful information, particularly timely information, really is. Here is a book that looks in depth at the biology of the women's body and questions traditional assumptions about females as the "default" sex and more. Angier is a woman passionate about science and about women and the combination is inspiring, refreshing, and ...more
This book was fascinating! Highly recommend it to all, regardless of the reader's gender.
I expected less from this book. Or rather, I didn't expect that Angier would provide so much irrelevant material. This is an important book, certainly, but she could have said it in half the space/time it takes here.

Yet I still recommend it. Science still has a long way to go to understand women's bodies and psyches; many questions raised here are not discussed in other books concerning the female gender, body, & sexuality.
I have never read a more in depth book on "woman." I am talking everything from physiology, to biology, to psychology. Although the book it quite dense and at times chalk full with complicated medical jargon, it will answer all your burning questions and shed light on the history and reasons behind why and how women came to be.
Shaenon Garrity

Angier is sometimes a little too in love with her own playful, punning prose style, but this is an eye-opening book with a wealth of information and ideas on human biology. A great antidote to simplistic "woman make many babies with alpha male" pop evo-psychology explanations of female instincts and behavior
Jan 23, 2014 Chris added it
Fascinating topic but I hate Natalie Angier’s writing style: the forced metaphors, the whimsical nouns, the strained adverbs. I wish she’d put down the thesaurus and just tell us what she’s learned from her reporting.
Seminal (or should I say ovular?) read in my personal formation as a feminist. Like the female body, Angier's prose is both tender and strong, and it's absolutely bursting with insight and information. Quite funny, too!
May 25, 2007 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
AMAZING. Natalie Angier combines lyricism, wit, humor, feminism and science to create a very readable and insightful compendium on all things wicked and wonderful of Womanhood.
I love Natalie Angier's writing style. It like talking to a friend over a bottle of wine. A really scientifically well informed friend.

A fantasia of the female body. This sang with the vivacity of a 3-D full-color National Geographic documentary, in prose form. It never ceased to inform, inspire, enlighten, surprise, and impress. With dependable laugh-out-loud wit.

Perhaps more a creation of whimsy than true science-writing, but Woman enriched my view of the world, and what more could you ask for from a book?

I was hooked from Angier's whimsical portrayal of fetal egg-cell apoptosis, and couldn't stop turning pages until the very
Susan Brace
May 09, 2014 Susan Brace is currently reading it
Current book discussion selection. Thanks for the recommendation Ann Rotz! An exploration of what it means to be a woman from a physiological perspective. Angier writes in a witty, conversational style - not condescendingly, but in a way that keeps the reader willing to stick with her through some pretty hard-core biological stuff. Just as importantly, she talks about the psychology of women and how we relate to our bodies and their sometimes mysterious ways. I'm looking forward to sharing thoug ...more
An excellent book that everyone should read - men and women, both.
Odile Stuart
I love the joyful power this book gives to women by tackling some basic biological facts.
It gives enjoyment to being a woman instead of this time-honoured dread that a long personal history of reading only male authors as no woman were really available in bookform had brought on me.
I am personnally fed up to the bone of the menstruation taboo, despite all affirmation to the contrary.
Angier sees menstruation as a defense mechanism, older women as flexible and strategic..
This book helps. No, this
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
From fascinating facts to blatant speculation..., August 3, 2002

I was intensely interested in reading this book when it first came out, and finally got around to it. From the beginning, Ms. Angier makes it clear that yes, there is much scientific fact in the book, but much of it is also her wild speculations as to why certain things happen (in regards to women and the female body, of course). She herself refers to this book as a 'scientific fa
I ordered this title in response to other similar books which included this in their bibliography. I was not disappointed. Natalie Angier makes the scientific side of the subject of the working of a woman’s body very accessible with great writing and a sense of humor. The reader is awarded by follow-up comments which weave together the chapters. The chemistry of the body, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen sections did go on and on, chapter after chapter (after chapter!), a bit much for me. Al ...more
(Si goodreads le permettait, j'aurais peut-être mis trois étoiles & demie? Je pense? Mais soyons généreux.)

Ce livre se veut une exploration & une célébration de l'anatomie féminine, des chromosomes jusqu'aux organes eux-mêmes, & finit forcément par aborder, parfois un peu par la bande mais souvent carrément de front, des questions qui débordent du cadre biologique pour toucher la justice sociale, le féminisme, les excentricités de l'évolution, nos grands amis les primates, les postul
This book took me some time to sink into. Angier's writing style is chock full of five dollar words and references to literature, pop culture, and history. It is also breathtakingly lyrical. For the first few chapters, her exhortions seemed over the top, but either she settled down or I embraced it because I found myself really enjoying her enthusiasm as I progressed.

Angier has a wry humor and often writes sarcastically, relying on the reader to pick up on the sly tone.

The book focuses on female
Although this text was published ten years ago, I found it to be very informative--although I don't regularly read in the field of biology, and I suspect there would be a lot to update in terms of what we understand about women's bodies. (This book was published before the human genome project was completed, after all.) Angier's rah-rah oversharing got uncomfortable at times (I really didn't need to hear about when she experiences her peak orgasms, for example.), but overall she presented the in ...more
Molly Westerman
I'm actually giving up 100 pages into this one (thus the lack of a rating: I've only read a quarter of the book). It's not that it's bad, it just doesn't feel worth my time.

Part of the problem is that very little here is new to me; perhaps it would be a more engaging book for someone who's just beginning to explore the science of--and cultural (mis)representations of--the clitoris, uterus, breast, etc., etc. Part of it is that I simply find the writing annoying. It's far too cute for my taste: a
This book is really fascinating and I've learned a lot of very interesting concepts. Yet I don't think I really like it all that much because the author is a evolutionary biologist and tries to explain everything by showing how women's bodies are a lot like female monkey's or have evolved from other type of animals. I just don't quite by into that. For me women's bodies were divinely designed by a wise and loving God, and the reason that they are as amazing and incredible as they are is because ...more
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Any direction 1 3 Jul 12, 2014 08:06AM  
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Natalie Angier is a nonfiction writer and a science journalist for The New York Times.
More about Natalie Angier...
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science The Best American Science Writing 2009 The Beauty of the Beastly Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2002

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“Women never bought Freud's idea of penis envy: who would want a shotgun when you can have an automatic?” 45 likes
“The clitoris not only applauds when a women flaunts her mastery; it will give a standing ovation. In the multiple orgasm, we see the finest evidence that our lady Klitoris helps those who help themselves. It may take many minutes to reach the first summit, but once there the lusty mountaineer finds wings awaiting her. She does noy need to scramble back to the ground before scaling the next peak, but can glide like a raptor on currents of joy.” 28 likes
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