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Reading Lolita in Tehran
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books | Azar Nafisi
We all have dreamsthings we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisis 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 readingPride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolitatheir Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. Nafisis 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 Nafisis 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 Nafisis luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of womens lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice. From the Hardcover edition.
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squirrelbrain
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i‘ve copied @vivastory cos I think you‘re ever so clever and gone with #Iran rather than #iRan... 😁

Haven‘t read this yet....

#redroseseptember

arlenefinnigan Ha ! Nice work. 2mo
Hooked_on_books It‘s a good one! 2mo
vivastory Great choice 👍 2mo
76 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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youneverarrived
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Bailedbailed

This is good but too long winded for what I‘m wanting to read at the minute so bailing for now but will come back to it at some point.

Nute I feel that this is an important story. I totally get that a book needs to be calling to you at the time of reading. I‘m happy that you are planning to return to it in the future. I think that you will appreciate it when the timing is right.🙂 4mo
youneverarrived @Nute I think so too 👍 I would rather read it when I have more energy for it if that makes sense. It seems like an important and interesting read. 4mo
LeahBergen I was a bit underwhelmed by this book myself (but I, too, think it was situational for me). 🤷🏻‍♀️ 4mo
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squirrelbrain My Mum gave me this one - it‘s on my TBR shelf. I think she struggled with it too, but finished it eventually.... 4mo
Billypar Ah, sorry to hear you didn't connect to it. It's one of my favorite nonfiction reads: hope you return to it at the right time! 4mo
youneverarrived @LeahBergen yeah, it seems like the type of book you have to be in the proper mood for. 4mo
youneverarrived @squirrelbrain can see why.. I think it‘s the writing style. It‘s a bit repetitive and long winded. Still seems a worthwhile read though. 4mo
youneverarrived @Billypar I will definitely go back to it at some point, when I‘m more in the mood for a long, detailed read. 4mo
58 likes8 comments
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kspenmoll
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rachaich
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Panpan

Well. I finished it.
Maybe I had different expectations about it. I thought it'd be an exploration of literature through a reading group in Tehran.
A librarian friend felt similar to me... she commented that it was a vehicle for the author's thesis...
But interesting account of Iran in the eighties and nineties.

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rachaich
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Still struggling through...
Whilst it's interesting, I don't feel a depth for the narrator and therefore it's not making me feel for it.
Page 200...

Libby1 I had a similar experience. It all felt very “worthy” but not enthralling. 5mo
rachaich @Libby1 that's exactly it! 5mo
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rachaich
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Indeed. Empathy is the key to keeping reading.
But I'm struggling with this one. Again 😏😐

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rachaich
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So I chose this for July book club as I've started it twice but never read more than the first 50 pages.
I'm hoping that the group will motivate me!
It's frustrating as it has all the elements that appeal to me... just hasn't done it for me in the past.

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cinestress
Bailedbailed

Yeah, I have to bail on this. I returned it to the library a long time ago and haven't even thought about it since.

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Geri
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After being somewhat dissatisfied with my most recent fantasy novel, I made a snap decision to read something totally different. Azar Nafisi paints a haunting picture of the strength, resilience, uncertainty and desire for more of a group of women daring to study western writing in Iran. There is a sorrowful and hopeful beauty in her writing and her story.

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cinestress

I started this book as part of my Read Harder challenge journal. I frequently try to expand my literary horizons, but more often than not, I can hardly get into the challenge books. I have been reading this for maybe a week now and haven't gotten much further than 30 pages.

I like that it is about a group of women basically rebelling to pursue knowledge through literature, but man... I just want to read something where someone dies. 🤣⚰️☠️

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cinestress
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Whoever we were - and it was not really important what religion we belonged to, whether we wished to wear the veil or not, whether we observed certain religious norms or not- we had become the figment of someone else's dreams.

BookwormAHN Welcome to Litsy 😺 10mo
Crazeedi Welcome to Litsy !🎉🎉 10mo
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Fed
Mehso-so

It had a very slow start, it takes time to fall in love with this book‘s characters. I was in love by the end, but it was sometimes hard to follow and that is why is not a 100% pick for me. You have to be in the right mood, needs focus. But if you get used to the slowness than it is a book that gets to your heart

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ThePurpleSponge
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My #weneeddiversebooks ... On our shelves entry to #24in48. I dont make notes in my books very often, but this book touched me to my core. I learned a lot about Iran and Tehran, and that the city is a literary and cultural hub that i never imagined it to be by listening to the news. I learned about the fragility of our own freedoms but also how these women will fight for themselves. All these ladies had very different beliefs, but...

ThePurpleSponge ...they came under one roof to talk about books, and that helped them to make sense of their lives. 10mo
TheBookHippie Oh I so loved reading this. It's my daughters favorite book. 10mo
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ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled
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Panpan

This book needs an editor.
It was obviously an excuse for the author to publish her thesis on Nabokov and essays on literary criticism.
I would have bailed if I didn‘t have to read this for book club.

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JacintaMCarter
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Pickpick

#2018Book139
#LitsyAtoZ Part 3: Books from birth by author
#BookN (2003, age 12)

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MrsLee
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Jinn is helping me to keep warm while reading. I have to read this one in little bits, not only because I have a concussion, but there is a lot to think about in here.

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Copwithabook
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Pickpick

I‘m recommending this book knowing it will not be right for every reader. The women‘s trials and tribulations were terrible and brought me to tears. However, Nafisi counterbalances that with the hope and escape she finds in literature. She waxes on quite academically about the great literature, which I think would be a turn off for most readers. For me though, this book will never leave my shelves.

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Copwithabook
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This book has been on my shelves for years and has made it through many moves. I pulled the title out of my TBR jar. I am actually glad that I waited this long to read it. I‘m a more mature reader now, and I think I can appreciate it in a way I wouldn‘t have been able to before.

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Bertha_Mason

"We were unhappy. We compared our situation to our own potentials, to what we could have had, and somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people's misery make us happier or more content?"

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MaleficentBookDragon
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Another great one of the #kindledailydeals
I keep meaning to read this for quote a while.

readordierachel It's a good one! 1y
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Joyfulmimi
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A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals and prevents you from self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.

TongueTiedSLP11 I loved this book! ❤️ 1y
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Insightsintobooks
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This is one of the books I recieved for the #Librarything #secretsanta event last year. However, if you don't already have it, now is a good time to get it because I just found it on sale on kindle.

#kindledeal
#kindledeals

Scarlett_ohara I was kind of disappointed in this book. I thought they spent more time analyzing books than actually describing what it was like to read such a book as Lolita in this country, which is what I was expecting. 1y
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SLSbooks
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Mehso-so

Eye opening story of oppression, though I was hoping to read more about it through the eyes of the ladies in the book club, not the author‘s many lectures (which got a bit boring at times). Enjoyed author‘s thoughts on Gatsby....

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jojobean218
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*Page count: 88/356* I was mostly pulled into this by the promise of discussions of Lolita, but am enjoying the overall story more than I anticipated. Though I do find that it‘s taking me some time to get through; the densely referenced and thoughtful writing combined with a setting in a country I know little about is a lot of info to take in at once. Also, it‘s living in my new #bookbeau, of which I need about six more.

Wife Welcome to Litsy!🌹 1y
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TheBookKeeper
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A beautiful and profound book about the value of literature and the significance of reading in a conflicted world. Azar Nafisi explores the transcending power of fiction through literature read with her students in Tehran in the 1990s. Don't miss this powerful book that celebrates the diabolical importance that reading still has in our lives today.

#readinglolitaintehran #azarnafisi #reading #memoir #booksaboutbooks #literature

GatheringBooks one of my favourite novels of all time. sensitively depicted and thoughtfully written. 2y
TheBookKeeper @GatheringBooks thank you, it is a beautiful book 2y
Billypar I read it earlier this year and loved it. She packs so much into it- it didn't just make me thankful about the freedoms I take for granted but provided a vivid picture of how freedom can get withdrawn. 2y
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TheBookKeeper @Billypar it's so true what you write. She has written a follow up book to this one called The Republic of the Imagination -where she writes about her years in the United States of America - she explores the opposite predicament where people are free to read well but are too often, not reading at all. Also a brilliant book. 2y
Billypar @TheBookKeeper Ooh...I didn't even know she wrote a follow-up taking place in the U.S.- sounds excellent... Stacked! Thanks for the recommendation 2y
TheBookKeeper @Billypar no worries 😊 2y
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Austen_Nerd
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Thank you @Stacypatrice I love my #2018nonfictionbookexchange box with goodies!! Everything was perfect!!! i am looking forward to reading my books!! I have often looked at Reading Lolita in Tehran, but never picked it up, if I had I would have just because they read Austen!!!!! The page flags are too cute to use, the magnetic PnP kit is awesome, and the bookmarks are my favorite!! Thank you, for all my lovelies!!

LeahBergen Both of these books are great! 👏🏻👏🏻 2y
Stacypatrice You‘re so welcome 😁 I had fun searching and shopping for you!! 2y
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MissMaryFaith
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So excited to read this after seeing the author featured on Finding Your Roots!

RaimeyGallant Great cover too. And welcome to Litsy! #LitsyWelcomeWagon Some of us put together Litsy tips to help new Littens navigate the site. It's the link in my bio on my page in case you need it.
2y
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Billypar
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Pickpick

Most of Nafisi's memoir of her experience teaching literature in the wake of the Iranian revolution is journalistic in turns, poetic in others. This passage, addressed to a former student and more 'moderate' devotee of the revolution, was like a gut punch- all the restraint in chronicling the daily injustices and death at the hands of the new regime bubbling over into cathartic anger. 👇

Billypar My new favorite memoir explores fiction's role as a survival tool in the face of horrors that not only threaten lives, but rob women of their identities. Sometimes it almost reads like a piece of fiction itself- a notion that Nafisi plays with, challenging the reader to look at the boundaries between the fictions of novels & the political fictions those in power try to impose on others. Everyone should read this still all-too relevant masterpiece. 2y
saresmoore Wonderful review! 2y
Billypar @saresmoore Thanks...not sure if I've ever run up against the character limit for both posts of a split review- guess it's a testament to my enthusiasm ☺️ 2y
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Leftcoastzen Such a wonderful and powerful book! 2y
GatheringBooks this was one of my absolute fave reads. 2y
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DeborahSmall
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#imeverywoman #fiercefeb great respect for teacher Azar Nafisi, bold and fierce, she secretly met with 7 of her most committed female students to read banned western literature, every Thursday. All the while Islamic morality squads carried out arbitrary raids across Tehran. Truly inspiring ❤️

batsy Great pick! This was a good read. 2y
DeborahSmall @batsy it was great 2y
Dragon I found this book so interesting and terrifying. How quickly this author ‘s country changed from women holding jobs at universities to women being forced out of everything. 2y
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Cinfhen I received this book from @TsundokuAleax in the #FallExchange 💚I need to bump it up my TBR...thanks for the reminder 2y
LeahBergen I enjoyed this one, too. 👍🏻 2y
TsundokuAleax @Cinfhen Yay! I read it years ago and got so excited when I saw it was on your TBR. 2y
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Billypar
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I'm still relatively new to memoirs, but this is shaping up to be one my favorites. Any other fans of this one?

readordierachel It's been years, but I remember loving this one! 2y
batsy Same... Read it over a decade ago but remember really liking bits of it. 2y
britt_brooke I love memoir, but I haven‘t read this yet! It‘s in my endless #TBR pile. 2y
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Leftcoastzen I remember loving it and was amazed at the love of reading shining through when It seemed that they had so many other things to worry about. 2y
LeahBergen I enjoyed this one, too. 👍🏻 2y
Reggie I like this quote. 2y
SaraBeagle 💕💕💕💕 2y
Cathythoughts Beautiful quote 💓 2y
HolyCluster Good lord I adore this book , it with The Blue Sweater bewitched me and made me love memoirs 🙈💜 also my name is Malala. 2y
Billypar @HolyCluster I've been reading so many good ones lately- about to post a review of one- Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. The Blue Sweater sounds great- I stacked it. Also, welcome to Litsy! ☺️ 2y
HolyCluster Thank you ☺️ long way gone ha , will wait for ur post 🙈. From reading comments about the tagged book triggered my yearning to read something written of Iran so i picked : Iran Awakening . I have been having a reading slump for a while I think and hope it has passed now 🙈 2y
HolyCluster @Billypar what r u reading now btw ? 2y
Billypar @HolyCluster Memoir-wise finishing Mary Karr's Lit, then have a Mindy Kaling one to start next. Otherwise in between books at the moment...will likely begin Edwidge Danticat's, Breath, Eyes and Memory soon 2y
HolyCluster Hmm 🤔 r they comic books ? 2y
Billypar @HolyCluster No- none are comics. 2y
28 likes15 comments
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Martta
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Pickpick

Trying to read all the unfinished books from my reader before leaving for Australia. 😊 I started this about a year ago and finished it just this morning. I just loved it! The parts where they went into the details of Lolita were a bit disgusting. But I loved the parts where they analyzed Austen and other classics. I also found it really interesting to read about Iran during the difficult years.

LeeRHarry I didn't know you were heading out this way - what are your plans? 😊 2y
Martta @LeeRHarry We'll be visiting Brisbane, Gold coast and Sydney. I'm so looking forward to seeing the sun! ☀️⛱ We had such a cold summer last year. I'm so ready for some warmth! 😊☀️❤ 2y
LeeRHarry @Martta that sounds like it'll be a lot of fun but can't believe you're not coming to Melbs! 😉 I think I prefer the cold, going to be stinking hot - 39C - here at the end of the week! Safe travels and have fun! 😊 2y
Martta @LeeRHarry That sounds a bit too much warmth. ☀️ Thanks! 😊 2y
27 likes4 comments
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Martta
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I think books are a safe zone for many of us during the turbulent times in life. 😊📚

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Copwithabook
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Here is my #mounTBR (well my physical books anyway). Clearly my wife likes to take me to thrift stores. I hardly ever buy a new book and almost never spend over a couple of dollars on any one book. Newly published I get from audible and the library. Do you have book shopping habits? #readon #unread #pileobooks

Dolly My book habits are very boring as I have almost zero book budget. I rely on Overdrive ebooks & my local library & inter library loan. IF I buy it's a used book sale. It works for me. I'm thankful for libraries! 2y
Copwithabook @Dolly my library also uses Overdrive. I apparently need to utilize my library more ☺️ 2y
18 likes2 comments
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Martta
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Yesterday I went through my reader and noticed that I have three unfinished books in there. Now I have to finish them before starting new ones because I hate when books are left unfinished for a longer time periods. 😐📚

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TheAnitaAlvarez
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Pickpick

This book is beautiful. I loved how Nafisi thinks of a literature as a liberating and transforming force. I strongly believe that literature has the power to change our lives and makes us see different perspectives.
#RoryGilmoresReadingChallenge

RaimeyGallant Interesting! 2y
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Susanita

In retrospect, when historical events are gathered up, analyzed and categorized into articles and books, their messiness disappears and they gain a certain logic and clarity that one never feels at the time.

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Blaire
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Pickpick

This was a #slowread. Having finished it certain parts stand out - how oppression impacted both religious and secular, the choices faced. The hardest section for me was on James as I've never successfully finished one of his books. I've read Lolita, gatsby, bellow and Austen so those allusions were easier to grasp. Worthwhile but certainly slow. Read along with multiple other books. #cityinthetitle #uncannyoctober

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Susanita
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I‘m # 2 on the hold list for this, so I should have it soon! As for Lolita, I haven‘t officially bailed, but I haven‘t made it very far yet either. #acityinthetitle #uncannyoctober

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Blaire
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Slowly making my way through this one and enjoying my morning coffee. #bookanddrink #lowbattery #uncannyoctober

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GatheringBooks
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Pickpick

#UncannyOctober Day 2: This is a beautiful #NFAboutACountryILikeToVisit - I think Iran is a lovely city steeped in history. Would love to go there someday.

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Gina
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This is located in Tehran, Iran.

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Aswenson
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Cold outside, so sitting in the sun inside feels so nice and cozy.
Book club pick this month but I'm behind!

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McFarchie
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Thinking I might give this a go. Thoughts?

Biljana Awesome read! Go for it 👌 (edited) 2y
Kristelh It took me two tries but was happy I read it when I finally finished 2y
Soubhiville I loved it! 2y
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Dragon It was definitely an interesting read. 2y
Reviewsbylola I read this for a college class over ten years ago. I remember I didn't feel strongly about it one way or another. But my memory fails me other than that. 2y
mjdowens I loved this story. The power of reading and how it brings people together 2y
prowlix I really loved this when I read it years ago. I remember enjoying all the discussion about literature. 2y
kspenmoll I read this about 5 yrs ago snd found it wonderfully informative and moving. 2y
TheCanuckReader I read it a few years ago and since I hadn't read Lolita....well... 2y
ptkpepe98 I read it when it came out, and liked it. I am listening to "The Republic of Imagination" now, which I like much, much more. 2y
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Blaire
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In preparation for the WV book festival next month, I'm trying to get in some of the books from the authors who will be attending. First up - Azar Nafisi's reading Lolita in tehran and Nicola Yoon's the sun is also a star. #septembersmostanticipated #mostanticipated #fallintoreading #autumnreads #wvbookfestival

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Magic_Kiwi
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I've officially started my collection of Iranian novels! ❤️?

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1. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (first and fifth additions) - Edward FitzGerald
2. Iran Awakening - Shirin Ebadi
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
4. The Essential Rumi - (translated by) Coleman Barks
5. Prisoner of Tehran - Marina Nemat
6. Honeymoon in Tehran - Azadeh Moaveni

elliemcc11 Have you read this graphic novel set in Iran? Another to add to this list if you haven't 😉 2y
Magic_Kiwi @elliemcc11 I've read both of the novels, very good and beautiful pieces of work. (edited) 2y
elliemcc11 Ah fantastic @Magic_Kiwi 🙄 2y
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charissharpe
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Lunch time reading... feeling a little drowsy now after a big lunch but I have work at 4pm so no napping for me!

I am loving this book already, it's already causing various questions to bubble up in my mind. Can you imagine having to read books in secret? To have to sneakily listen to your favourite music? To literally not ever have any space to yourself? To have your attire inspected inch by inch on a daily basis?

#diversebooks

Jess_Read_This I can't imagine. It blows my mind and I'm infinitely grateful and humbled that I have the freedom to read what I want and access to books. 2y
charissharpe @Jess_Read_This me too, I know over the years that books & movies have been censored in the Western world but that tends to be an occasional thing. To have almost all books be forbidden I just cannot imagine. 2y
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trazo
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My boy turns one today! He is my reading companion.

Reviewsbylola 🎉🎉🎉 2y
librarygoddess619 Happy birthday to the pup!!! 2y
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charissharpe Hi! How far in have you gotten & what do you think so far? I've got my copy now so am hoping to catch you up! 2y
trazo Hi @conversationswithcharis! I just started the Gatsby section. I had not read Lolita before, I doubt I will be now. It is too hard for me to enter those types of worlds. Have you read Lolita? I did love how she described Lolitas horror on page 33. I do really like knowing how relevant/relatable these stories are in Iran. I enjoy learning about the students. How far are you? I don't want to spoil anything. 2y
trazo @conversationswithcharis I also really liked her perspective of women portrayed in 'A Thousand and One Nights' (edited) 2y
charissharpe I haven't read Lolita, or any of the books by the same author, although now if find myself thinking perhaps I should? Lolita does sound upsetting but I am intrigued by the idea of a book that can have so many different reactions to it. I'm really enjoying getting to know the students and it is fascinating to read how different Iran had been only a couple of generations before and how difficult it is for them in contrast growing up under the regime 2y
charissharpe I've not encountered Gatsby just yet 😉 2y
trazo @conversationswithcharis I really enjoyed getting to know the students too. However I have not read much of them up to where I am (still Gatsby section). I feel like I am learning a lot of the revolution in Tehran and her (author). I think that for me Lolita may be too much to handle. I want to hear mor of her students' thoughts in regards to the novels. (edited) 2y
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trazo
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Mdonald
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Pickpick

I think I would've enjoyed this book more if I had read all of the literature referred to in her classes. #LitsyAtoZ #R✔️

charissharpe I'm currently reading this & totally get what you mean, I am still very much enjoying the book though and think I will read some of the books she references afterwards, perhaps rereading this again at a later date. 2y
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