Our Shared Shelf discussion

Announcements > May/June book! The Handmaid's Tale

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message 1: by Emma (new)

Emma Watson (emmawatsonbookclub) | 49 comments Mod
Dear Our Shared Shelf,

Our next book – Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – is a gripping read, but it won’t make you feel comfortable. It is set in a dystopian future where a society (which was once clearly the USA) is ruled by a fundamentalist religion that controls women’s bodies. Because fertility rates are low, certain women – who have proved they are fertile – are given to the Commanders of the ‘Republic of Gilead’ as ‘handmaids’ in order to bear children for them when their wives cannot. The novel purports to be the first-person account of a handmaid, Ofred, who describes her life under this totalitarian regime. Flashbacks to her past, when she took it for completely for granted that she could be a working mother and have an equal relationship with her husband, show how easy it was for women’s rights to be revoked once a period of social chaos arose. As tension builds, the reader desperately hopes that the underground resistance will come to Ofred’s aid and rescue her.

Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale over thirty years ago now, but it is a book that has never stopped fascinating readers because it articulates so vividly what it feels like for a woman to lose power over her own body. Like George Orwell's 1984 (a novel that Atwood was inspired by) its title alone summons up a whole set of ideas, even for those who haven't read it. As Atwood has said in an interview: 'It has become a sort of tag for those writing about shifts towards policies aimed at controlling women, and especially women's bodies and reproductive functions: "Like something out of The Handmaid's Tale".'

Well, here's our chance to read beyond the ‘tag’, and share our thoughts about how we think its dystopian vision relates to the world of 2017. Atwood has called it ‘speculative fiction’, but also says that all the practises described in the novel are ‘drawn from the historical record’ – i.e. are things that have actually taken place in the past. Could any of Atwood’s speculations take place again, or are some of them taking place already? Are the women in the book powerless in their oppression or could they be doing more to fight it? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Emma x

message 2: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (cloweelou) | 16 comments Brilliant! I've been meaning to read this book for so long. Looking forward to getting stuck into it.

message 3: by Sascha (new)

Sascha (smileylymie) | 14 comments I cannot wait to get my hands on this brilliant book!

message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen (crazykaren) | 9 comments I've read it before, perhaps I'll read it again..

message 5: by Maritza (new)

Maritza (sweetdarksister) I've always wanted to read this book, but for some reason never picked it up. School couldn't get me to read it, my best friend couldn't get me to read it, the tv show hype couldn't get me to read it.

But Emma Watson can get me to read it!

message 6: by Jasmin (last edited Apr 17, 2017 02:01PM) (new)

Jasmin Johansen (jasminjohansen) | 2 comments Yay now i can maybe finally read it. I'm excited to hear peoples thought on it! :)

message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert Smart | 360 comments I am ordering it now. :)

message 8: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 2 comments I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK!!! It's so good, I'm glad it's our next read :)

message 9: by Kate (new)

Kate I've been meaning to read this. I will definitely be partaking!

message 10: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Zmanovskia (caffinated_and_opinionated) So excited Emma! I love this book and am an Atwoodian (term for us dedicated fans of Atwood's work).

If anyone is looking for other books by her, I strongly recommend Cats Eye.


message 11: by Christina (new)

Christina Vlachou (killatila) | 6 comments Emma wrote: "Dear Our Shared Shelf,

Our next book – Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – is a gripping read, but it won’t make you feel comfortable. It is set in a dystopian future where a society (which wa..."

Margaret Atwood happens to be one of my favorite authors of all time!!I love her writing style!! I have read many books of hers! This book seems very interesting!!!

message 12: by Bea (new)

Bea Harvie I haven't read the Handmaid's Tale since High School! I'm definitely going to try and be involved in this months read!

message 13: by Romina (new)

Romina Scianatico | 37 comments I've been meaning to read this for ages!! Definitely going to be picking up my copy very soon!

message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather Fineisen | 4 comments Lauren wrote: "So excited Emma! I love this book and am an Atwoodian (term for us dedicated fans of Atwood's work).

If anyone is looking for other books by her, I strongly recommend Cats Eye.


Cat's Eye was the first book I read by Atwood. I loved it.

message 15: by Paige (new)

Paige | 48 comments I've read this! It's the book we're studying in my English Literature and Language A Level. It's a very thought-provoking book, there's a Hulu series on it, too!

message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Parnell | 10 comments I will be studying this for my English Literature A level next year so can't wait to get a head start learning about the background of the story and author! X

message 17: by Matt (new)

Matt Mcewen | 6 comments I have actually been wanting to read this for a while! I'm happy that it's our next reading! Definitely going to get a copy soon! More than likely around thursday! Can't wait to start reading!!

message 18: by Sara (new)

Sara Funnily, I'm already in the middle of this book. I read it in high school, but this time I'm listening to the audio, which is read by Claire Danes. It's such a moving book. I'm getting so much more out of it a second time. I cannot wait for the Hulu series. We'll see how they interpret this work in a visual form.

message 19: by Shana (new)

Shana Kaplan (sek1128) | 93 comments The Handmaid's Tale (and 1984 btw) are on my list of books I want to read. Look forward to reading it. Off to BN tomorrow. Thanks Emma. : )

message 20: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments That the future envisioned is possible is almost beyond doubt Emma. The question of whether the women are doing enough to resist and by extension we ourselves are, given the examples of such events in the world at first seems similarly obvious but may not be. Speculative friction particularly distopian can be seductive. We can draw parallels to quickly.

I will decide after I have read the book. thanks another interesting choice, and touch of Sci-fi :)

message 21: by Katya (new)

Katya Galdamez | 1 comments This will be my first book with this group. I'm thrilled to get started! 🤗

message 22: by Anita (new)

Anita | 87 comments I've been waiting for this one. Great choice, Emma!

message 23: by Michael (new)

Michael | 1 comments Just joined, and this will be my first book with the group. I Recently read The Man In The High Castle, and am excited to discuss how elements of these types of works have a dangerous potential to connect to our reality.

message 24: by Simone (new)

Simone | 85 comments I have just heard about this book!!I want to read it so so much!!!Thanks Emma!! Excellent choice!!! Can't wait to grab my copy and to read it!!!

message 25: by Erin (thatwritergirl) (last edited Apr 17, 2017 08:32PM) (new)

Erin (thatwritergirl) | 37 comments Yay! I'm so excited to read this book! With the tv show coming out on Hulu, I've been meaning to start it. Great choice!

message 26: by Evelia (new)

Evelia | 89 comments Cool, looking forward to reading this book.

message 27: by Vero (new)

Vero Guevara | 11 comments Can't wait to start reading it, will be my first book with you guys in this group and I am so excited. ❤️

message 28: by Walter (new)

Walter Aguilera (waltericho) | 4 comments Yes! I can not wait to read this book!

message 29: by Ti (new)

Ti (tiannareads) | 2 comments Kat wrote: "i haben't read this book yet.. and i can't find this book here in the Philippines.. 😭😭😭"

Try bookdepository.com they may have it? Books are cheap and free shipping worldwide!

Can't wait to read this book with you all!

message 30: by Niamh (new)

Niamh O'Brien | 1 comments I can't wait to read this book. You are inspiration to us all Emma including me. Being 16 and living in this world is hard but having role models like you makes it a little bit easier. These last 2 or 3 years have been tough but you got me through them with this book club so I want to say thank you for being the role model we all need. Thank for being an inspiration to us all. xxx

message 31: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin (ashiot) | 215 comments Wonderful, this time I intend to finish the book before the discussions start! Thanks Em.

Ashiot x :D

message 32: by Shermaya (new)

Shermaya Thenuwara (shermayathenuwara) | 2 comments Awesome! I'm excited to read this

message 33: by Felicia (new)

Felicia (feliciajoe) Yay! I was already planning on reading this soon (:

message 34: by Mahima (new)

Mahima Pradhan Great news! I have had this book on my to-read list for quite a while now. Can't wait to read it! :)

message 35: by Kathrin (new)

Kathrin | 25 comments Sounds very intriguing! Thank you, Emma.

message 36: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Kennedy | 12 comments Yes!! This book is such a great choice! I adore this book so much, I studied it in literature and I'm so glad that everyone in this group will be reading it. I can't wait to discuss this book, re-read it, and see what everyone's opinions on the story is, because it's quite relevant to what's happening today, even if it is based in a dystopian universe, I'm sure we can all find things to take away from this book. I cannot wait!

message 37: by Merissa (new)

Merissa Karam | 1 comments I have wanted to read this for a while, but always get stuck with another book on my list. Now I have the drive to move it to next month and leave room and time for it!!!!

message 38: by Aneliese (new)

Aneliese Saukel | 1 comments I am so excited to read this! This just so happened to be on my list of books to read already!

message 39: by Amanda (last edited Apr 18, 2017 09:01AM) (new)

Amanda Faye (goodreadscomabitbookish) | 7 comments Lauren wrote: "So excited Emma! I love this book and am an Atwoodian (term for us dedicated fans of Atwood's work).

If anyone is looking for other books by her, I strongly recommend Cats Eye.


I'm about to admit something quite embarrassing . . . I've never read anything by Atwood :{

However, based on your suggestion, I also grabbed a copy of Cat's Eye while getting my copy of The Handmaid's Tale.

I also grabbed a copy of Women's Issues in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale by David E. Nelson as a supplement to The Handmaid's Tale. The student in me couldn't help myself.

Thanks for the suggestion! Though I'm more of a Joycean, hopefully, you created another Atwoodian.

Many blessings,

Amanda Faye

message 40: by Rosa (new)

Rosa Raarup (rosasimone) | 1 comments Oh yay! Margaret Atwood is my favorite! And so is this book! So timely!

message 41: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Wow, this book sounds definitely worth exploring. Gonna get it bought soon.

Thanks for that recommendation, Emma!
A rocky read tho, I guess, I'll still read it.

message 42: by Rachel (new)

Rachel McDonald | 5 comments I think they also just made this a show as well, but we all know the book will be better lol.

message 43: by Beatriz (new)

Beatriz Barbosa | 8 comments this sounds like an amazing book!

message 44: by Anita (new)

Anita | 87 comments Ms Atwood is one of Canada's most treasured authors. If anyone is curious please dive into her books - they are all incredible and The Handmaid's Tale is in my view one of her best. If this is your first experience reading Atwood I'm confident it won't be your last.

message 45: by Hayley (new)

Hayley | 1 comments Thank you Emma for telling us about the new book for May and June. I have only just joined your book club so I am frantically trying to read as much of Women Who Run With The Wolves (whist absorbing as many of the wonderful lessons that book has to teach as possible) before you begin to discuss it. I can't wait to read The Handmaid's Tale as well as trying to catch up on some of the previous books you have all read & discussed, especially How To Be A Woman and Mom & Me & Mom. Thank you also for creating such an amazing book club. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful, exciting and diverse group of people :-)

message 46: by Mari B. (new)

Mari B.    Pereira  (ladymaricota) | 3 comments i finished the book two weeks ago and its by far one of the essential read i ever had. cant wait to see all the opinions

message 47: by Nataly (new)

Nataly Rodriguez (nathfray) | 4 comments I'm excited about this one!

message 48: by JOSUE (new)

JOSUE (josuemsv) | 29 comments Seems very interesting to me! Can't wait to read it! 👀

message 49: by Andi (new)

Andi Day (adriennenday) | 1 comments I'm so lucky the kindle edition is free for prime users, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to afford the book this month! I'm very excited.

message 50: by Kristin (new)

Kristin I'm halfway through this and found it really gripping 😊

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