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Woman: An Intimate Geography

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,240 ratings  ·  383 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 January 1st 1999)
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Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Kevin Shepherd
This book needs illustrations! You can't scrutinize and analyze and critique the geography of the vagina (chapter 4) without providing visual aids to those of us who don't possess one or haven't sighted one in... well... a long time. You might as well be talking about the album cover of Sgt. Pepper - yes I vaguely remember the layout, no I don't recall exactly where Ringo was standing.

That said, Angier doesn't just explain female physiology, she celebrates it. Loudly. Intelligently. Frankly. Thi
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 23, 2014 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.
Tracy Rhodes
Mar 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Shreya Vikram
This book is strange. This book is beautiful. This book is important. But above everything else, this book is fun.

Woman is that narrative I've needed all my life but didn't think was possible. It's educating without being condescending. It's complex and dynamic without overwhelming. It weighs laughter and natural selection with the same nuance.

It's movement, strength, aggression, and fury.

Angier's writing is eccentric, and in love with itself. Deal with it.

At first, the sheer bluntness of of
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 that
If you're looking for a comprehensive atlas of the embodied female, then you cannot do much better than Woman: An Intimate Geography. Even 18 years after its original publication, Natalie Angier's book remains relevant, provocative, and thoroughly educational. Women's bodies remain mysteries only to the extent our societal ignorance compels us, and that certain doctors and scientists continue to neglect it in favor of the supposed simplicity of the male form. Angier trods well-worn territory for ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nancy Schober
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physiology
Favorite quotes:"Women need muscle, as much as they can muster. They need muscle to shield their light bones, and they need muscle to weather illness& And being strong in a blunt way, a muscle headed way, is easier than being skilled at a sport. It is a democratic option, open to the klutzes and the latecomers, and women should seize the chance to become cheaply, frowzily strong, because the chance exists, and let us be honest, we don't have many. Being strong won t make you happy or fulfilled, ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This whole book got me saying, "Preach, sister, preach", every few minutes. What a journey it was and what a beautiful book about femaleness in all its myriad complexity and unfathomable-ness.

Angier's "Woman" is a must-read for every woman. Much more than just a simple exploration of women and their bodies, "Woman" dives deep into the cultural biases that have affected evolutionary research and perpetuated an incorrect view of women as the inferior sex. Calling her book a "fantasia" for womanho
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Angier makes the "scince of women" very accessible, although her writing is chock full of scientific and biological terms. She explains complicated things in a very simple manner, perhaps because she really does know what she is talking about. She is a very knowledgeable and witty teacher. She questions everything and usually finds scientific studies to illustrate her views. She keeps your attention. It is just that so much is turned topsy turvey that I began questioning her statements too. I be ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book about the scientific and societal existence of women. I want to buy a copy for pretty much every female person I know. I learned a lot about the landscape of my own existence, and appreciated a voice that dissected a lot of problematic gender assumptions.

As much as I loved it, there were a few glaring gaps, including:
— no recognition that the baseline cultural assumptions of the author/readership are white people living in the U.S.,
— no discussion of racial identities and its eff
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Daniel Gallagher
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Shaenon Garrity
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Woman: An Intimate Geography examines many different aspects of "femaleness" from the cellular level all the way to psychological and sociological levels. It's much more "chatty" than a textbook, and it is obviously geared more towards starting a conversation rather than educating you. In fact, you need to take this book with a grain of salt because the author mixes equal parts of her own opinions and theories with actual scientific research, and it's not always completely clear where one ends a ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I learned so much from this book and for the information, the basic information, I got it should be a four-star review. However, I just could not get over the (perhaps flowery? overly poetic? If that is a valid critique?) style and tone of the writing. I got a bit eye-roll-ish every five pages--and it takes a lot to get me to that point.

That said, I'll repeat again that there are facts and theories in this book that are fantastically interesting and wonderful. So, don't just pass this one up to
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Women are so much more interesting than men, biologically speaking. The clitoris, for instance, is the only organ strictly for sexual pleasure, and contains thousands more nerve endings than a penis (which is just an overgrown clitoris anyway, as one learns in this book). I've read it twice and passed it on to my mom and other female friends. It's truly fascinating. ...more
May 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
The female body is amazing and there is so much I did not know until I read this book. I love my body even more now :-) Every woman and every man who loves women should read this book.
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Natalie Angier is a nonfiction writer and a science journalist for The New York Times.

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“Women never bought Freud's idea of penis envy: who would want a shotgun when you can have an automatic?” 64 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.” 32 likes
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