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Random House Publishing Group
We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.
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Availability for Reading Lolita in Tehran; A Memoir in Books
    I enjoyed reading the parts of this memoir that described what life was like in Iran for educated women and others during the Iranian Revolution than I did the parts of the book where the women met for their book club meetings. I appreciated the courage of the author/teacher and her students, but I had a hard time feeling engaged in their lives. I thought that I would love this book more, but I did like it. It was interesting to think about how I would handle myself if I were required to live under such a regime.more
    I liked it, though I admit having trouble getting through it. I loved some of its statements about literature and life -- my copy is full of post-its.

    A challenging read, but worth the time, if only to gain a better perspective on a way of life so different from my own.more
    This is one of those books I had high hopes for but fell flat for me. The subject - secretly reading classic works of fiction, banned under the Iranian regime in place at the time of the book - thrilled me and I am certainly impressed with Nafisi taking such a risk in more than difficult times. The let down, for me, was in the style of writing. I felt it very dry and not reflective of the urgency or risks being taken. It may be a book I return to for a second read. Sometimes books and timing of reading conflict.more
    An absolute must-read. This book is amazing..reading "love was forbidden, banished from the public sphere. How could it be experienced if its expression was illegal?" brings understanding of the trauma and conflict that young women must face daily in Iran. How can you learn to love when the demonstration of the act itself is a moral crime?The book is divided into four sections and in the last,Austen, we learn about the personal lives of the students who come every week to discuss books with their beloved mentor and teacher - for me this was the most powerful insight into the lives of these courageous and often conflicted women. This book also gave me my favorite new word: poshlust.more
    When i first started reading it, I picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down.

    Then I started corresponding with an incarcerated woman who had been in solitary confinement for years. We started reading the book together, chapter by chapter. I started to see the parallels and overlaps of the restrictions on women in Tehran and the restrictions on women imprisoned in the solitary confinement in the United States. That was when the book hit me and it hit hard.

    more
    Wow. You read The Handmaid's Tale, or stories about the Jews in Europe in the 1930s and think well at least that can't happen for real nowadays, and yet it can - so insidiously. I confess I couldn't keep track of the individual students, and she darted around a bit in time, but I was fascinated by the historical aspect, and the ease which which women became subjugated ("it's only a piece of fabric" about the veil), and society became menaced by the laws of the mullahs. A clear-eyed and frightening account, that also reads beautifully.more
    Dull. Almost aborted at p. 25. Looked promising but perhaps not seeing the New Yorker among the testimonials was a warning. Plus I bought it at Chapters. Nothing I buy at Chapters ever seems to work out.more
    This is not always an easy book to read or to like. Its episodic, it jumps around, at times the narrator inserts herself so thoroughly into the foreground that she's all you can see. The match between the lives of women in the revolutionary republic of Iran and such hoary classics as Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, The Great Gatsby sometimes seems tenuous and odd. At times Nafisi makes pronouncements that don't seem to me to follow from the tale she was telling.

    But I think its actually the things that make it difficult that also make it rewarding. This is what it says it is; A Memoir. Its not a polished and orderly explication of the political and social history of modern Iran. Its a very personal evocation of one woman's jumbled, confusing, contradictory, and difficult experience of a painful time that she survived in part through studying great literature with other women. At the time of this writing I don't think she had yet entirely made sense of that experience and so it takes some work on the reader's part to try to comprehend the confusion.

    In the end I failed to entirely create order out of the chaos but honestly I think it would be less of a book if I had succeeded. How do you make sense of life in a country in which the movie censor is blind, in which proctors monitor a concert to be certain no one including the musicians, shows too much enthusiasm. How can you make sense of a place in which some people are executed for some minor infraction, some simply vanish for reasons unknown, while others escape punishment entirely. But this is your homeland, a place you loved, had great hopes for and eventually find it necessary to leave.

    To make a polished orderly story out of this would I think be dishonest to the experience. So somehow the jumble and the confusion and the strange connections all work for me. I don't feel I read a textbook about Iran I feel that I met one Iranian woman. Flawed in places but interesting and challenging and something I walk away from still thinking hard.more
    Azar Nafisi, a literature teacher, uses the books of Henry James, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby and Jane Austen as a frame for telling the story about the women students in her private literature class and the tumultuous times in post-revolution Iran. My experience would no doubt have been enriched had I read more of the books she discusses. Still, Reading Lolita in Tehran tells the powerful stories of women, and their treatment, in Iran and how scandalous these books were considered.more
    This book couldn't seem to make up its mind what nature of book it was. An account of the difficulties faced by young women in Tehran who wanted an education but were subjected to restrictions of a regime that does not value intelligence in females OR a book of lit criticism. Because it kept flittting from one to another, it ended up being unsatisfactory on all fronts. I would have enjoyed it more had the author focused on the group of girls with whom she formed a bond rather than presenting fairly extensive analysis of some of the books they read.more
    Something about this book failed to raise my sympathies. Hey, girls, quit whining, and understand the throes of back and forth, the social spasms going on around you. This is a hugely tortured society that is lurching between religious and secular. And the world outside is much more interesting and dangerous than whining about colonial lit'rature... imho. Harsh.... withing Iranian contemporary literature I much prefer Dowlatabadi and the more average people he talks about...more
    Azir Nafisi was a professor of Literature in Tehran during the time of the Islamic revolution. As rights and freedoms were taken away--particularly of women--she tries to take a stand for what she believes is right. One way that she does that is to invite some of her female students to her home to discuss great works of Western literature--such as Lolita and The Great Gatsby.This book is best when it is talking about Nafisi's students and their struggles. But it often veers off into discussing the literary works and in fact some parts are a more literary criticism than memoir. If you are unfamiliar with the literary works or do not enjoy detailed analysis of literature these parts may be less enjoyable to you. As a reader, I truly wanted to know more about her students and what happened to them, but I could have done with out the other parts.more
    This is a book about the female experience in a state of explicit oppression. It argues forcefully that the Iranian Islamic Republic was/is not just oppressive but is particularly oppressive, to the point of mania, against women. There are vivid descriptions of pedagogical encounters with 'radicalised' students (mostly male) who attack the author's attempts to teach literature, and particularly the position of her female heroins. Nafisi's interlocutors use a brutal and simplistic rhetoric, the officially sanctioned 'State-Speak' and she counters them with her impassioned plea for a space for literature as an arena that allows us to empathise with others. It is rarely clear if her attackers are arguing out of fear, self-interest or true-belief but their motivations are generally less important than the manner in which they dehumanise themselves while pretending to preach to others. The drawback of Nafisi's approach is that, by siding with literature against the political she appears to remove herself from the political altogether. This can and has lead to attacks that accuse her of dubious or mislaid motives, and the lack of a firm position political position tended to weaken the overall work for me. It will, however, no doubt strengthen it for other readers. Nafisi's courage is clear and this is an important book for anyone who wants an insight into the nature of totalitarianism.more
    Nafisi's memoir recounts her experiences in Iran from when she returned there with her husband just prior to the Revolution until she left for the United States in the mid-nineties. A unique blend of literary criticism and personal narrative, the book is framed around her responses to literature as an English literature professor and how it interwove with her experience. The book allows for a unique insight into the realities of women living in Iran and Nafisi's own conflicts over the country she knew, the country that currently exists, and the realities that such a regime forces on its people. Nafisi's work is just as much about the internal space, her thoughts on literature, and her discussions with her students as it is about the experiences she had in Iran. A study in complexity, the book is profound, moving, and thought-provoking.more
    If you are familiar with classic Western literature, this book is enjoyable on two fronts. Aside from being a fascinating memoir of the author's life in post-revolution Iran, it also tells the story of the lives of her students through the lens of their dedication to literature. The separation of parts according to the novel the group is studying and the parallels of that novel to the experiences the author recounts is very well done. Not exactly mesmerizing, but a good read for the book lover and the mind.more
    Azar Nafisi is an Iranian literary scholar who studied in the United States but returned to Tehran to teach. As the Islamic Revolution cracks down on personal freedoms, Nafisi struggles with the right to teach literature on its own basis rather than in Islamic terms. Eventually, she withdraws from the University and teaches a small group of women in her home. Through her personal struggles and theirs, and through the lens of great literature, she reveals the impact of the political and religious battles on the lives of individuals, particularly women, and on the culture as a whole.It was interesting to read this immediately after reading Persepolis, a child's perspective on the same oppressive theocracy.more
    I picked up this book because I’m very interested in Iran and accounts of life during the Islamic Revolution. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into this book because I really wasn’t familiar with Austen or Nabokov, but after reading the first few chapters it really wasn’t an issue. Central to Azar Nafisi’s memoir is the secret all women’s ( with one exception) book club that she forms after leaving her teaching position. The many books and authors that are discussed like Austen, Nabokov, James, Fitzgerald don’t take over her memoir but enrich it greatly. Through the bookclub not only is Western Literature being examined but also Iranian society. The members of the book club bring their own personal experiences of what it means to be a woman in the Islamic Republic to the discussions. At the heart of this book are the women who tried to make a place for themselves inside Iran while being treated like outsiders in their own country . --- Highly Recommendedmore
    The last memoir I read, Eat Pray Love, didn't go so well and I was really hoping Reading Lolita in Tehran wouldn't turn out the same way. Thankfully, it turned out be to quite enjoyable. One of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was because I read Lolita last month and the title really made me think, "What would happen if you were a young woman in Iran reading a banned book? Lolita, at that."The memoir takes a look at Azar Nafisi's former life in Iran, where not only did she teach at a college, but also had a book club for some girls from her class where they would read and discuss such "controversial" and banned books such as Lolita, The Great Gatsby, as well as books by Henry James and Jane Austen. I (obviously) love reading so I was excited to read a book about reading books, but what's more I was eager to read a book describing what it was like to live in Iran. We see things about Iran and the Middle East on the news all the time, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. What's it like to live there? I think that's what I enjoyed most about this memoir, reading what it was like to live in Iran, go to work/school every day, despite bombings from Iraq. Nafisi is very good at describing the situations and putting you right in there - though it is still hard to imagine what it's like to live in Tehran. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Halfway through I was sure I was going to give it five stars, but because I felt like it dragged on a bit at the end it only got four. But four stars is great and I definitely recommend this memoir for anyone looking for a little serious reading.more
    More than just a diary of a book club, [book: Reading Lolita in Tehran] offers a deeply personal view of the Iranian Revolution and life in the Islamic Republic. Late in the book, the author admits, "I am too much of an academic: I have written too many papers and articles to be able to turn my experiences and ideas into narratives without pontificating."This is a forgivable offense, as Nafisi pontificates more eloquently than any literature professor I've ever heard. I can't recommend this highly enough.more
    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and hadn't grasped the fact that it was non-fiction, until I started reading it. It was an education. I was taken to a world that is incromprehnsible to a western female who is able to express her views and personality freely, without ending up in jail, or worse being executed. It gave me a fresh learning journey and the desire to read more about the lives of people, especially women, in the Far East. Aswell as all this it it introduced me to new reading material and gave me a fresh insight into previously read books.more
    The author shows great courage in her dedication to the discussion group, but overall I really didn't see much merit to it. It does reveal a lot about the revolution and treatment of Iranian students. Thank goodness I live in America.more
    Azar Nafisi's memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran tells of a changing Iranian culture, one fraught with both external and internal turmoil, during the Iranian Revolution. She describes her own experiences there through the lens of literature, particularly Nabakov's Lolita, Henry James' Daisy Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Some portions of her analysis and the connections she makes between the pieces and the rapid changes she observes within her beloved Iranian culture are very sound. I connect with her reading of Lolita and Daisy Miller. She doesn't ask and answer as many questions as I would like with the Great Gatsby or Pride and Prejudice; though, I like those portions as well. There isn't anything she said about any of the pieces where I thought "She's absolutely nuts." In some instances, I wish she would have pushed further with her readings. She strikes me as a very insightful, loving, brave woman who is very saddened by the politicizing of religion, the lack of women's rights in Iran, and continual upheavals and revolutions there. She wishes that others could gain insights about human experience through close readings of literature, bemoaning the lack of empathy and shortsightedness of "revolutionaries" in Iran. There's a recommended reading list in the back of her book. If you haven't read at least the four I've listed above, it will be very difficult to make heads or tails of her memoir.more
    A magnificent defence of intellectual freedom, a life story full of fundamental questions, most of all a passionate declaration of love for literature... Hopeful, open-minded, uplifting and courageous. My book of the year!more
    This book was about a group of educated Iranian women who get together to discuss banned Western literature. It was a hard read for me because my lack of knowledge about Iranian history. What was apparent, was the author's love for literature and her passion for understanding it. Overall, I enjoyed the book and probably learned a few things about Iran's past.more
    Fascinating but extremely despressing in some ways account of an informal group of educated Iranian women meeting to discuss American/British literature in the fairly early days of the Islamic Republic which is becoming more and more repressive around them. Personally, I was more interested in the descriptions of Iranian life than the discussions of he books themselves.more
    Good historical and political perspective of the 60s through 90s, but weak story.more
    This is a dense read, but worth the effort. Nafisi does a remarkable job of integrating the western literature she loves with the daring act of teaching young women in her home during the initial crack-down of the Islamist regime in Iran. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping she would be safe as she fought the extremists in ways small and large. A portrait in courage.more
    Dr. Nafisi starts a book club of former and present students and they read banned Western books.more
    This is part literary critique, part memoir about life in modern day Iran. The author is a professor (as opposed to a novelist) and as such much of the literary bit went some way over my head, even though I have read and enjoyed most of the books concerned. (Beware of spoilers!) The story of the book group was fascinating, if a little difficult to follow with time switches and characters popping in and out of the narrative, and provided a rare insight into life under a totalitarian regime. Some of the events were so shocking that it was with a jolt that I remembered I was reading fact not fiction.more
    Read all 118 reviews

    Reviews

    I enjoyed reading the parts of this memoir that described what life was like in Iran for educated women and others during the Iranian Revolution than I did the parts of the book where the women met for their book club meetings. I appreciated the courage of the author/teacher and her students, but I had a hard time feeling engaged in their lives. I thought that I would love this book more, but I did like it. It was interesting to think about how I would handle myself if I were required to live under such a regime.more
    I liked it, though I admit having trouble getting through it. I loved some of its statements about literature and life -- my copy is full of post-its.

    A challenging read, but worth the time, if only to gain a better perspective on a way of life so different from my own.more
    This is one of those books I had high hopes for but fell flat for me. The subject - secretly reading classic works of fiction, banned under the Iranian regime in place at the time of the book - thrilled me and I am certainly impressed with Nafisi taking such a risk in more than difficult times. The let down, for me, was in the style of writing. I felt it very dry and not reflective of the urgency or risks being taken. It may be a book I return to for a second read. Sometimes books and timing of reading conflict.more
    An absolute must-read. This book is amazing..reading "love was forbidden, banished from the public sphere. How could it be experienced if its expression was illegal?" brings understanding of the trauma and conflict that young women must face daily in Iran. How can you learn to love when the demonstration of the act itself is a moral crime?The book is divided into four sections and in the last,Austen, we learn about the personal lives of the students who come every week to discuss books with their beloved mentor and teacher - for me this was the most powerful insight into the lives of these courageous and often conflicted women. This book also gave me my favorite new word: poshlust.more
    When i first started reading it, I picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down.

    Then I started corresponding with an incarcerated woman who had been in solitary confinement for years. We started reading the book together, chapter by chapter. I started to see the parallels and overlaps of the restrictions on women in Tehran and the restrictions on women imprisoned in the solitary confinement in the United States. That was when the book hit me and it hit hard.

    more
    Wow. You read The Handmaid's Tale, or stories about the Jews in Europe in the 1930s and think well at least that can't happen for real nowadays, and yet it can - so insidiously. I confess I couldn't keep track of the individual students, and she darted around a bit in time, but I was fascinated by the historical aspect, and the ease which which women became subjugated ("it's only a piece of fabric" about the veil), and society became menaced by the laws of the mullahs. A clear-eyed and frightening account, that also reads beautifully.more
    Dull. Almost aborted at p. 25. Looked promising but perhaps not seeing the New Yorker among the testimonials was a warning. Plus I bought it at Chapters. Nothing I buy at Chapters ever seems to work out.more
    This is not always an easy book to read or to like. Its episodic, it jumps around, at times the narrator inserts herself so thoroughly into the foreground that she's all you can see. The match between the lives of women in the revolutionary republic of Iran and such hoary classics as Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, The Great Gatsby sometimes seems tenuous and odd. At times Nafisi makes pronouncements that don't seem to me to follow from the tale she was telling.

    But I think its actually the things that make it difficult that also make it rewarding. This is what it says it is; A Memoir. Its not a polished and orderly explication of the political and social history of modern Iran. Its a very personal evocation of one woman's jumbled, confusing, contradictory, and difficult experience of a painful time that she survived in part through studying great literature with other women. At the time of this writing I don't think she had yet entirely made sense of that experience and so it takes some work on the reader's part to try to comprehend the confusion.

    In the end I failed to entirely create order out of the chaos but honestly I think it would be less of a book if I had succeeded. How do you make sense of life in a country in which the movie censor is blind, in which proctors monitor a concert to be certain no one including the musicians, shows too much enthusiasm. How can you make sense of a place in which some people are executed for some minor infraction, some simply vanish for reasons unknown, while others escape punishment entirely. But this is your homeland, a place you loved, had great hopes for and eventually find it necessary to leave.

    To make a polished orderly story out of this would I think be dishonest to the experience. So somehow the jumble and the confusion and the strange connections all work for me. I don't feel I read a textbook about Iran I feel that I met one Iranian woman. Flawed in places but interesting and challenging and something I walk away from still thinking hard.more
    Azar Nafisi, a literature teacher, uses the books of Henry James, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby and Jane Austen as a frame for telling the story about the women students in her private literature class and the tumultuous times in post-revolution Iran. My experience would no doubt have been enriched had I read more of the books she discusses. Still, Reading Lolita in Tehran tells the powerful stories of women, and their treatment, in Iran and how scandalous these books were considered.more
    This book couldn't seem to make up its mind what nature of book it was. An account of the difficulties faced by young women in Tehran who wanted an education but were subjected to restrictions of a regime that does not value intelligence in females OR a book of lit criticism. Because it kept flittting from one to another, it ended up being unsatisfactory on all fronts. I would have enjoyed it more had the author focused on the group of girls with whom she formed a bond rather than presenting fairly extensive analysis of some of the books they read.more
    Something about this book failed to raise my sympathies. Hey, girls, quit whining, and understand the throes of back and forth, the social spasms going on around you. This is a hugely tortured society that is lurching between religious and secular. And the world outside is much more interesting and dangerous than whining about colonial lit'rature... imho. Harsh.... withing Iranian contemporary literature I much prefer Dowlatabadi and the more average people he talks about...more
    Azir Nafisi was a professor of Literature in Tehran during the time of the Islamic revolution. As rights and freedoms were taken away--particularly of women--she tries to take a stand for what she believes is right. One way that she does that is to invite some of her female students to her home to discuss great works of Western literature--such as Lolita and The Great Gatsby.This book is best when it is talking about Nafisi's students and their struggles. But it often veers off into discussing the literary works and in fact some parts are a more literary criticism than memoir. If you are unfamiliar with the literary works or do not enjoy detailed analysis of literature these parts may be less enjoyable to you. As a reader, I truly wanted to know more about her students and what happened to them, but I could have done with out the other parts.more
    This is a book about the female experience in a state of explicit oppression. It argues forcefully that the Iranian Islamic Republic was/is not just oppressive but is particularly oppressive, to the point of mania, against women. There are vivid descriptions of pedagogical encounters with 'radicalised' students (mostly male) who attack the author's attempts to teach literature, and particularly the position of her female heroins. Nafisi's interlocutors use a brutal and simplistic rhetoric, the officially sanctioned 'State-Speak' and she counters them with her impassioned plea for a space for literature as an arena that allows us to empathise with others. It is rarely clear if her attackers are arguing out of fear, self-interest or true-belief but their motivations are generally less important than the manner in which they dehumanise themselves while pretending to preach to others. The drawback of Nafisi's approach is that, by siding with literature against the political she appears to remove herself from the political altogether. This can and has lead to attacks that accuse her of dubious or mislaid motives, and the lack of a firm position political position tended to weaken the overall work for me. It will, however, no doubt strengthen it for other readers. Nafisi's courage is clear and this is an important book for anyone who wants an insight into the nature of totalitarianism.more
    Nafisi's memoir recounts her experiences in Iran from when she returned there with her husband just prior to the Revolution until she left for the United States in the mid-nineties. A unique blend of literary criticism and personal narrative, the book is framed around her responses to literature as an English literature professor and how it interwove with her experience. The book allows for a unique insight into the realities of women living in Iran and Nafisi's own conflicts over the country she knew, the country that currently exists, and the realities that such a regime forces on its people. Nafisi's work is just as much about the internal space, her thoughts on literature, and her discussions with her students as it is about the experiences she had in Iran. A study in complexity, the book is profound, moving, and thought-provoking.more
    If you are familiar with classic Western literature, this book is enjoyable on two fronts. Aside from being a fascinating memoir of the author's life in post-revolution Iran, it also tells the story of the lives of her students through the lens of their dedication to literature. The separation of parts according to the novel the group is studying and the parallels of that novel to the experiences the author recounts is very well done. Not exactly mesmerizing, but a good read for the book lover and the mind.more
    Azar Nafisi is an Iranian literary scholar who studied in the United States but returned to Tehran to teach. As the Islamic Revolution cracks down on personal freedoms, Nafisi struggles with the right to teach literature on its own basis rather than in Islamic terms. Eventually, she withdraws from the University and teaches a small group of women in her home. Through her personal struggles and theirs, and through the lens of great literature, she reveals the impact of the political and religious battles on the lives of individuals, particularly women, and on the culture as a whole.It was interesting to read this immediately after reading Persepolis, a child's perspective on the same oppressive theocracy.more
    I picked up this book because I’m very interested in Iran and accounts of life during the Islamic Revolution. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into this book because I really wasn’t familiar with Austen or Nabokov, but after reading the first few chapters it really wasn’t an issue. Central to Azar Nafisi’s memoir is the secret all women’s ( with one exception) book club that she forms after leaving her teaching position. The many books and authors that are discussed like Austen, Nabokov, James, Fitzgerald don’t take over her memoir but enrich it greatly. Through the bookclub not only is Western Literature being examined but also Iranian society. The members of the book club bring their own personal experiences of what it means to be a woman in the Islamic Republic to the discussions. At the heart of this book are the women who tried to make a place for themselves inside Iran while being treated like outsiders in their own country . --- Highly Recommendedmore
    The last memoir I read, Eat Pray Love, didn't go so well and I was really hoping Reading Lolita in Tehran wouldn't turn out the same way. Thankfully, it turned out be to quite enjoyable. One of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was because I read Lolita last month and the title really made me think, "What would happen if you were a young woman in Iran reading a banned book? Lolita, at that."The memoir takes a look at Azar Nafisi's former life in Iran, where not only did she teach at a college, but also had a book club for some girls from her class where they would read and discuss such "controversial" and banned books such as Lolita, The Great Gatsby, as well as books by Henry James and Jane Austen. I (obviously) love reading so I was excited to read a book about reading books, but what's more I was eager to read a book describing what it was like to live in Iran. We see things about Iran and the Middle East on the news all the time, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. What's it like to live there? I think that's what I enjoyed most about this memoir, reading what it was like to live in Iran, go to work/school every day, despite bombings from Iraq. Nafisi is very good at describing the situations and putting you right in there - though it is still hard to imagine what it's like to live in Tehran. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Halfway through I was sure I was going to give it five stars, but because I felt like it dragged on a bit at the end it only got four. But four stars is great and I definitely recommend this memoir for anyone looking for a little serious reading.more
    More than just a diary of a book club, [book: Reading Lolita in Tehran] offers a deeply personal view of the Iranian Revolution and life in the Islamic Republic. Late in the book, the author admits, "I am too much of an academic: I have written too many papers and articles to be able to turn my experiences and ideas into narratives without pontificating."This is a forgivable offense, as Nafisi pontificates more eloquently than any literature professor I've ever heard. I can't recommend this highly enough.more
    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and hadn't grasped the fact that it was non-fiction, until I started reading it. It was an education. I was taken to a world that is incromprehnsible to a western female who is able to express her views and personality freely, without ending up in jail, or worse being executed. It gave me a fresh learning journey and the desire to read more about the lives of people, especially women, in the Far East. Aswell as all this it it introduced me to new reading material and gave me a fresh insight into previously read books.more
    The author shows great courage in her dedication to the discussion group, but overall I really didn't see much merit to it. It does reveal a lot about the revolution and treatment of Iranian students. Thank goodness I live in America.more
    Azar Nafisi's memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran tells of a changing Iranian culture, one fraught with both external and internal turmoil, during the Iranian Revolution. She describes her own experiences there through the lens of literature, particularly Nabakov's Lolita, Henry James' Daisy Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Some portions of her analysis and the connections she makes between the pieces and the rapid changes she observes within her beloved Iranian culture are very sound. I connect with her reading of Lolita and Daisy Miller. She doesn't ask and answer as many questions as I would like with the Great Gatsby or Pride and Prejudice; though, I like those portions as well. There isn't anything she said about any of the pieces where I thought "She's absolutely nuts." In some instances, I wish she would have pushed further with her readings. She strikes me as a very insightful, loving, brave woman who is very saddened by the politicizing of religion, the lack of women's rights in Iran, and continual upheavals and revolutions there. She wishes that others could gain insights about human experience through close readings of literature, bemoaning the lack of empathy and shortsightedness of "revolutionaries" in Iran. There's a recommended reading list in the back of her book. If you haven't read at least the four I've listed above, it will be very difficult to make heads or tails of her memoir.more
    A magnificent defence of intellectual freedom, a life story full of fundamental questions, most of all a passionate declaration of love for literature... Hopeful, open-minded, uplifting and courageous. My book of the year!more
    This book was about a group of educated Iranian women who get together to discuss banned Western literature. It was a hard read for me because my lack of knowledge about Iranian history. What was apparent, was the author's love for literature and her passion for understanding it. Overall, I enjoyed the book and probably learned a few things about Iran's past.more
    Fascinating but extremely despressing in some ways account of an informal group of educated Iranian women meeting to discuss American/British literature in the fairly early days of the Islamic Republic which is becoming more and more repressive around them. Personally, I was more interested in the descriptions of Iranian life than the discussions of he books themselves.more
    Good historical and political perspective of the 60s through 90s, but weak story.more
    This is a dense read, but worth the effort. Nafisi does a remarkable job of integrating the western literature she loves with the daring act of teaching young women in her home during the initial crack-down of the Islamist regime in Iran. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping she would be safe as she fought the extremists in ways small and large. A portrait in courage.more
    Dr. Nafisi starts a book club of former and present students and they read banned Western books.more
    This is part literary critique, part memoir about life in modern day Iran. The author is a professor (as opposed to a novelist) and as such much of the literary bit went some way over my head, even though I have read and enjoyed most of the books concerned. (Beware of spoilers!) The story of the book group was fascinating, if a little difficult to follow with time switches and characters popping in and out of the narrative, and provided a rare insight into life under a totalitarian regime. Some of the events were so shocking that it was with a jolt that I remembered I was reading fact not fiction.more
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