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Woman: An Intimate Geography

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,246 Ratings  ·  317 Reviews
A Pulitzer Prize-winner offers a book about femaleness --- in body and mind --- that could prove as important as The Second Sex or Our Bodies, Our Selves and as fresh as Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. With the clarity, insight, and sheer joy of language that has secured her reputation as one of the New York Times's premier stylists, Natalie Angier lifts the veil of secrec ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 6th 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emma
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
...more
Ann
Jul 08, 2010 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kara
Aug 14, 2007 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Stormkpr
Jan 12, 2008 Stormkpr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 2007 Tracy Rhodes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Sidewalk_Sotol
Oct 07, 2010 Sidewalk_Sotol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sidewalk_Sotol by: juasanera18@yahoo.com
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
...more
Hallie
Feb 12, 2012 Hallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Genya
May 09, 2007 Genya rated it really liked it
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
Chris
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.
Jessica
May 30, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrea
Dec 29, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Daniel Gallagher
Dec 06, 2015 Daniel Gallagher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an awesome book, loved learning all sorts of secrets about women (ha ha). Actually, this should be required reading for men and women. There is a lot of good information presented in a fun and engaging way. My only gripe was that the author heaps a ton of praise on old women, and basically dumps on old men as being useless. I think older men and women have a lot to offer younger generations.
Katie
Feb 08, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.
Contrary to what others are saying, I loved the poetic way the book was written. If you're a real science buff, and just want the cold-hard-facts, this book is not for you. I, however, have always loathed reading about science but am fascinated by the actual wonder of what it creates-- which is why I like this book so much. This piece is crammed full with interesting information which helped me relate to my body and had me popping up with weird new facts to tell my friends: "D
...more
Ashley
Aug 11, 2014 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating! Highly recommend it to all, regardless of the reader's gender.
okyrhoe
Aug 18, 2009 okyrhoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kristina Backstrom
This book was another in a series I’m exploring on female anatomy, its medical treatment, and gender roles, as well as how social influence impacts what we too quickly conclude to be scientific fact, how those “facts” are used to defend poor social policy, or back weak scientific theories.

Many have noted that Angier’s tone is at times over the top, and while I found myself wincing a couple times (e.g. she makes a remark that is downright offensive towards the anorgasmic), overall I found it ref
...more
laila grainawi
Dec 11, 2015 laila grainawi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was dense, yet conversationally written with tons of amazing information about our bodies. it reinforced a 'hell yes!' girl gang attitude in the best way possible.

i was reading this book during all of the most recent planned parenthood nonsense and thinking about how i had previously self-identified as 'one of the boys' but had also recently acquired my own kick ass group of lady pals, and realized that by dubbing previous gal pals as the drama-laden, and witnessing girl-eat-girl work
...more
Matt Holmes
Feminist evolutionary biology! Almost an oxymoron. The closest I’d seen to evo-psych that didn’t strongly favor the established construct of “men philander, women are chaste because DARWIN” was Sex at Dawn, and this has a notably more grrl-power bent than that, but without being cloying, intimidating, or overly exclusionary. I like how Ms. Angier writes. She sent me scurrying to the dictionary more than a handful of times, too.

The first third of the book reads like an anatomy textbook with a han
...more
Erin
May 04, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2008 Shaenon Garrity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction

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
Ellen
Jun 12, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jennifer
May 25, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Khalil James
Jan 09, 2016 Khalil James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Natalie displays her gift for expressing complex phenomena in creative and often humorous ways, which is what I presume everyone expects from a successful science writer. However, her science always felt 'lived in' - an Angier view of Woman, where science meets intrigue meets conviction.

The grand lesson I received is that our genetic potential is considerably more vast and less restricting than convention might have led us to believe, and that such a view should spur us on to achieve ever-greate
...more
Tamara
Jun 20, 2012 Tamara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-studies
I love Natalie Angier's writing style. It like talking to a friend over a bottle of wine. A really scientifically well informed friend.

Verity Williams
Mar 12, 2015 Verity Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow, this book is clearly divisive. I capital L loved it. Angier writes with guts and energy, and throughout, I thought 'I wish she was my real life mentor who would fire me up whenever I need some confidence and conviction'.

I found the content inspiring. She celebrates woman in all our honest glory, and she'll help me learn to do the same.

This book also taught me that many social assumptions explaining the female body are biased, socially laden, assumptions. And that taught me not to believe ev
...more
Cathy
Nov 25, 2014 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
...more
Susan Brace
May 09, 2014 Susan Brace is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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
bookish
Feb 01, 2010 bookish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book that everyone should read - men and women, both.
Odile Stuart
Oct 04, 2014 Odile Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kristi
Jan 27, 2009 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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Any direction 1 4 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...

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