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Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983-2005

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  352 ratings  ·  37 reviews
From one of the world's most passionately engaged literary citizens comes Writing with Intent, the largest collection to date of Margaret Atwood's nonfiction, ranging from 1983 to 2005. Composed of autobiographical essays, cultural commentary, book reviews, and introductory pieces written for great works of literature, this is the award-winning author's first book-length ...more
Hardcover, 427 pages
Published March 18th 2005 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published February 25th 2005)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Jen
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
She could write about old socks and it would be good - writing about writing couldn't possibly miss. I took this with me on summer vacation - perfect beach/hammock read.
Neocortext
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I read some of these essays when the collection was initially published in 2005 or 2006, but for some reason, I didn't delve too deeply at that time. For some reason as yet unknown to me, I picked up the book again a couple of days ago and read my way straight through. Immersing myself in Atwood's prose is always like coming home to a good friend; her writing fits my brain patterns without a hitch.

Most of the pieces are previously published essays and reviews, and intermingled amongst those are
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Yaaresse
This is my favorite read of the year so far. I'm wavering between four and five stars, but I think I'm just going to round up because it was such a nice surprise.

It's a hard book to classify. Basically, it's a collection of Atwood's previously published non-fiction pieces: book reviews, introductions, essays, random commentaries, eulogies, speeches, etc. Atwood is smart, funny, insightful, and a delightfully non-linear thinker who can talk about literature themes with specific references that
...more
Stephanie L.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Margaret Atwood remains one of the most fiercely intelligent and insightful writers of our time. While some of these essays were written 15-20 years ago, they read like prophecies as I can see the very future she's troubled by take place before my eyes. A phenomenal writer with an acute grasp on the challenges and complexities of the conflicts we face.
Terry
Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Reading this book made me feel the way I did reading Zadie Smith's collection of essays--that I was happily splashing about in a cool, dark pond shaded by pines, and I mean that as a compliment. It's so nice to have something so intellectually rewarding to read from time to time. I admire these brilliant, prolific women and wish I could be like them.
Kate
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book 3-stars worthy as a whole, but some of the essays in it I liked a whole lot more. For me it was a really mixed bag - but then again, I'm not a huge Atwood fan, so if you like her fiction I think you'll like her prose as well.

The book is also mixed in terms of its contents: the book is separated into periods of time in Atwood's life, and all the interesting essays she wrote during that time appear in the book, one after the other, showing her creative and critical development.
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Erika Nerdypants
Ah Margaret Atwood! I have loved many of her novels ( in fact Alias Grace is my all time favorite book), but I have to admit that I enjoy her non-fiction even more. This is a collection of delightful essays and book reviews on various subjects, ranging from Victory Gardens to what really happened to the famous Franklin expedition. She tackles such classics as "Beloved", by Toni Morrison and answers questions about wicked women in literature with thoughtful intelligence and a generous sprinkling ...more
Sharon
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked how the book ranged from book reviews to personal reminisces to political pleas. Atwood's book reviews are analytical and enthusiastic. She made me want to read (or reread) almost all of the books and made me miss reading and writing literary criticism in grad school. Her personal essays are charming and self-effacing: reminisces about how her great aunt supported her writing, a first job as a cashier in a diner, and an illness-addled speaking tour. With her disapproving analysis of ...more
Emily
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I battled between 4 and 5 stars on this one. While not every essay appealed to me subject-wise (I haven't read or heard of half the books she reviews), the fact remains that Atwood can make anything interesting and thought-provoking. The personal pieces are fascinating and everything is informative, a bit sensual, and makes me see things in a new way. These are signs of an amazing writer. It's official - Atwood can write in any genre. This is a book I would be proud to put on my best shelves and ...more
Lady Shockley
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely collection of Atwood's older book reviews, opinion pieces, lectures and, sadly, a couple of beautiful eulogies. Sharp, witty, and insightful and a lot of fun to read. There are a couple of missteps - her stance on GMOs is based on the fear factor rather than on the science - but enjoyable nonetheless. The only real drawback- her book reviews will make you want to read the books, So it is not pocketbook- friendly. On the other hand, they're all older books, so plenty of secondhand copies ...more
Audrey
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it
There's a lot of hit or miss stuff here, in regards to material and interest. On one hand, Atwood is obviously in fine form. Her voice is distinctive, as usual, and her observations are keen. On the other hand, though, these collected writings consist mostly of a few essays, some introductions, and a lot of book reviews. Which is all well and good, if you are looking for something to dip into occasionally, or if you like reading book reviews. But taken as a whole, it's too much to sustain my ...more
Lorraine
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
I almost invariably adore Margaret Atwood's writing, and this collection is no exception. It's full of reviews she wrote of books and movies (mostly books), essays on themes (although fewer of those than I expected), introductions of books (such as a collection of Canadian fiction from a certain time period), explanations of her writing process for certain novels (Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake among others), and eulogies for writer friends.

I found several new authors to read and a film or
...more
Charlotte
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This wasn't quite what I thought it would be, but I enjoyed many of the pieces in it. It took me nearly a year to get through, for a collection of book reviews and eulogies does lack a certain page turner quality, but the writing is so superb that I kept coming back to it.

No one writes a book review like Margaret Atwood! I did skip a few, but I also added quite a few more of the books and movies she reviewed to my upcoming reading list. And the essays that reflected back pieces of her life were
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Tara
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started this book in April to look for new essays for a class. I was immediately absorbed in Atwood’s essays. I bought this book when it was published. I can’t believe it took me so long to get to it!
Mickey
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I did not read every piece in this book. I tend to skip reviews if I have not read the book, because I like to come to a book clean. (I won't read the backs of books or the forewards either.) Although, actually, I did break that rule several times in this book, because the beginning of the review was intriguing.

It's always a gamble to read an author's essays and reviews if you've developed your relationship with them through their fiction. Sometimes, you are unpleasantly surprised
...more
Wendy Lu
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i've been saving this book in my unread-books-i-own pile for almost two years now, just waiting for when i would have the time and emotional wherewithall to approach it. this is my first of this kind of book, where its just a collection of prose and essays and book reviews, waxing and waning between the almost academic and the deeply personal, earmarked generously with the kind of descriptions of physical surroundings that such and such book was written in or such and such book was read in or ...more
Venessa
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I forgot the rest of the title, but this piece of non-fiction by Canada’s leading writer contains “writings for occasions” and has many book reviews, forewards and afterwords, as well as other essays. I almost didn’t include it on my list, because I did not read the entire book, but I did read most of it and will probably return to it at a future date(s). Por supuesto, the writing is above par, truly excellent, and Atwood never fails to both entertain and astonish.
Kati
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
So, I love, love, love Margaret Atwood. I found this collection of essays and reviews to be mediocre. The writing was fine, I'm just not sure I love the things she loves and so I was reading mostly reviews of her favorite books which all sounded fine... but it just wasn't that captivating. Because I love her, I kept thinking I was going to stumble across a really good essay in the book but none of them struck my fancy. I kind of feel relieved it's over.
Jenny
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is quite a diverse collection. I didn't read all the book reviews, but thoroughly enjoyed everything I did read. I particularly enjoyed the essays relating to 'Oryx and Crake', 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'Alias Grace' - I enjoyed all three of those novels and really liked learning a bit more about Atwood's thought process as she wrote them. Very interesting and entertaining.
Sarah Pascarella
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always a pleasure to get Atwood's take on things, whether the topic is personal, literary, political, or scientific (oftentimes, it's all four). I especially enjoyed the political essays in part three, as well as her heartfelt, yet unsentimental, tribute to Carol Shields. Recommended for any Atwood fan.
Jenny
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating collection in Atwood's inimitable voice. As an added bonus, reading her reviews of books made my "to-read" list quite a bit longer. Recommended to anyone with an interest in contemporary literature.
Hilary
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Atwood is not for everyone. I think she is somewhat creepy and I love that about her. She has a strong voice and has a lot to say. If your looking for a nonfiction read with short essays, etc. check out this book.
Susan
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
It would--perhaps--be more accurate to shelve this book as "partially-read." I chose to skip Atwood's reviews of books I haven't read yet, such as She and Reading Lolita in Tehran, among others. I hesitate to rate an unfinished book, but let's just say I'm giving it 4 stars for now.

Martin Fossum
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of reviews and essays and intellectual meanderings. It's important to remember that Atwood is Canadian. Her mind is a product of the boreal.
Victoria
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this started my obsession with getting books of essays/anthologies. i love that she reviewed Beloved, I LOVE BELOVED and toni morrison. and now margaret atwood. read this on my trip, too.
Marla
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Really interesting to read her reviews of books over this time period. Recommended for Cindy, who loves all things Atwood!
Autumn
Sep 10, 2009 added it
I can't rate this. I can't even say I read this. I looked it over. It is too heavy of reading for someone who is not a huge Atwood fan.
Jeannie-marie
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
She has a great voice. I really could read her all the time.
Iris
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great, fluid writing voice. atwood is a true wordsmith but nonfiction doesn't reveal if she's got depth. gotta check out her fiction work soon.
Polly
Apr 22, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: afpl, dwdy-lib
read SOME in 007, where is the book that was at ATL-SS????
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry,
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“Tell what is yours to tell. Let others tell what is theirs.” 7 likes
“As we know from the oral tradition, every time the spirit moves it takes a different shape.” 1 likes
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