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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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review
Graywacke
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Pickpick

“You will not be able to write about Austen without writing about us, about this place where you rediscovered Austen … The Austen you know is so irretrievably linked to this place…”

My latest audiobook is awkwardly terrific. I expected a reading group, but that is just a part of what is really the author‘s full story of being a professor of English literature in this dystopian Islamic republic. The memoir seems to work almost by accident.

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Graywacke
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My next audiobook and a fun follow up to my 2 years of reading Nabokov. Although, it‘s not short. 17 hrs. But fun so far, read by the author.

Side note: this came out in 2003, and of course was a big deal then and for book people I think comes with a kind of cultural timestamp of an era. 2003 - you know, before these smartphone thingies. My weird mind thinks this is both like yesterday and also like a ancient history. Anyway finally listening.

Graywacke Also, I really love this cover photo. 7mo
Suet624 2003. You‘re so right. I keep forgetting how long ago that was. Time is a strange thing, especially as we get older. 7mo
Graywacke @Suet624 my first thought was 2003 was still very recent, and I had to reason with myself that 19 yrs is actually a lot. 🙂 7mo
56 likes3 comments
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Augustdana
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Same author, but this book isn‘t in the system here. More importantly, I‘m outside, it‘s windy…. And ☀️☀️☀️🖤🖤🖤 four days to read this one. No sweat??????

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LitTraveler
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February #bookspin 💕 unfortunately I couldn‘t get the whole list into one picture 🤷🏻‍♀️

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ravenlee
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Mehso-so

More than 17 years after I first started it, I finished it! I struggle with memoirs, especially when the timeline isn‘t linear, so I don‘t really understand what happened when. I also had difficulty keeping the girls straight (especially because they disappear for most of the section on James). The literature tie-ins weren‘t as much as I expected. Overall, this was a good look at a country I know little about, but I wouldn‘t read again.

ravenlee This was my December #DoubleSpin too. @TheAromaofBooks 12mo
TheAromaofBooks At least it's off the list!!! 12mo
MadelineMcCrae A really good memoir based in Afghanistan is called The Broken Circle! It‘s very beautiful if you want to give another memoir in the region a try. 12mo
35 likes3 comments
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ravenlee
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“She had not learned from reading it [Gatsby] that adultery was good or that we should all become shysters. Did people all go on strike or head west after reading Steinbeck? Did they go whaling after reading Melville? Are people not a little more complex than that?”

Still a valid argument against censoring books, and still very necessary.

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ravenlee
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Starting this book (second attempt) has me awash in memories. When it was new, a prof at my school told me about it, having just read a review in the NYT (I think) that reminded him of me. Sounds nice, right? The prompting was the author discussing Anna Karenina and he remembered how much I‘d hated AK in his class the year before, so he was giving me a “so there!” Except I loved AK, and hated (loathed) Madame Bovary, so his memory was off. 👇🏻

ravenlee A few months later I was in officer training for the USAF and bought the book for a few minutes‘ down time. Reading it in our classroom, a fellow trainee asked what it was about and had no idea where Tehran was (summer 2004, the “Axis of Evil,” all that). Then he was offended that I was concerned he‘d never heard of Tehran - he was about to become a military officer and knew nothing about the Middle East. 🤦🏻‍♀️ 👇🏻 12mo
ravenlee His reasoning was that he‘s a computer engineer and doesn‘t need to know about things like that. 😳 Anyway, I got caught up in life and never made much headway in this book (which has a pretty dense beginning). All these years later I‘m determined to get through it. 12mo
Lindy Wow! I feel as dismayed as you probably were by the officer candidate who didn‘t know were Tehran is located. 12mo
ravenlee @Lindy right? I believe I said, “it‘s the capital of Iran,” and he said something like, “and I should know that because…?” 12mo
36 likes4 comments
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bibliobliss

That room, for all of us, became a place of transgression. What a wonderland it was!

#currentlyreading #memoir #literature #bookblurbs #nonfiction

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bibliobliss
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I'm already in love with this book!! 😍

#currentlyreading #memoir #literature

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bibliobliss

For nearly two years, almost every Thursday morning, rain or shine, they came to my house, and almost every time, I could not get over the shock of seeing them shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color. When my students came into that room, they took off more than their scarves and robes. Gradually, each one gained an outline and a shape, becoming her own inimitable self. Our world in that living room with its window framing...

bibliobliss ...my beloved Elburz Mountains became our sanctuary, our self-contained universe, mocking the reality of black-scarved, timid faces in the city that sprawled below. 13mo
30 likes1 comment
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bibliobliss

"What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth."

--Azar Nafisi

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Mehso-so

I didn‘t really enjoy Reading Lolita In Tehran but I don‘t think that‘s the fault of Nafisi or the book. I think I went in with the wrong set of expectations – perhaps the fault of misleading marketing. I thought this memoir would revolve solely around the book club. It‘s much broader in scope than that, and much more focused on Nafisi‘s own experiences. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/reading-lolita-in-tehran-azar-nafisi/

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Biverson12
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After a bit of a reading hiatus, I am back and enjoying this book!

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JGadz11
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Started out slow for me. Once she got past her Nabokov obsession, things picked up and became a little less university lesson, more Iranian history. Still a little too lecture-y for me in the end.

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Michellesibs
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Pickpick

The women who get up everyday and live this bullshit, who are trying their best to get by, full of fear of their own governments and still have hope for a better tomorrow, I honestly can not get my head around the depth their inner strength.

This is a book that will stay with me. An emotional read.

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Cinfhen
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Mehso-so

I really enjoyed the parts of this book that focused on the women who comprised the book group but I was put off with this book when Azar Nafisi took on her lecture mode. Too much critical analysis of classic literature and too much inner ramblings of her classroom politics. This had real potential but it lost me. This was gifted to me in one of the original Litsy swaps from @TsundokuAleax ♥️

Ruthiella Agree! I much preferred the sections with the women coming to her home for the book group. 2y
bio_chem06 I recommended this book to someone & I said, “I really liked it but there was something about it that makes me think someone could really dislike it.” You hit the nail on the head, I couldn‘t figure out on my own why I liked it but didn‘t love it. You figure it out for me🤣 2y
Cinfhen Ha @bio_chem06 I wanted to LOVE the book because she‘s obviously really smart and had such an interesting story to share but somehow I felt like a naughty student showing up for class unprepared @Ruthiella 😆😆I just wanted to enjoy the book club ❤️ 2y
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CuriousG
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I'm posting one book per day from the ever growing unread stacks in my personal library. No description or explanation, just books I own and plan to read. #tbr

Day 33

Soubhiville I loved this book. 2y
20 likes1 comment
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squirrelbrain
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Mehso-so

This one was hard work - partly a memoir of life in #Iran and partly literary criticism of a number of books, I found it very dense. I did learn about life during the Iran / Iraq war and the strict regime under Khomeini. What irked me most was the author claimed to be all about ‘her girls‘ (those who joined her book club) but it felt very me, me,me.

Having said all that this is available for #swapme if you‘re not completely put off! ⬇️

squirrelbrain This is also my #doublespin for #bookspinbingo. 2y
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rockpools Congratulations on finishing it - you‘re storming through these! I might pass though 😉 2y
ephemeralwaltz Yeah, I ended up DNFing this one even though I thought it was so interesing. 2y
vlwelser This one is really dense. It took me forever to read the entire thing. 2y
Lcsmcat I agree that there was a lot of “me” in this, but I found it fascinating. We think of these areas of the world as somehow backward, but within my lifetime they were anything but. And our alliances has shifted so much that when my brother was in a military college he had Iranian classmates. I think we need to remember that. Just my 2 cents. 2y
BarbaraBB Great review nevertheless! 2y
PurpleTulipGirl I found the literary criticism less interesting and was prone to skimming it, but I did appreciate the way it offered a different understanding of books. 2y
squirrelbrain Yeah, I‘d skip it too if I was you Rachel! @rockpools 🤣 2y
squirrelbrain It‘s weird isn‘t it, how it was so interesting but so difficult to plough through? And I did skim some bits of it too.... @ephemeralwaltz @vlwelser @PurpleTulipGirl 2y
squirrelbrain @Lcsmcat - I was amazed at how much these ‘ordinary‘ women fought against the regime, and how they still found escape and solace in literature. As you say, it was fascinating. (Just hard work! ) 😁 2y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
youneverarrived I bailed on this but wanted to go back to it. It was just too much for me at the time but I know some people really love it! 2y
Centique This one makes me laugh because when I mentioned to my IRL book club that I was going to read it, they wanted to read it too. I told them it was going to have a lot of literary analysis in it - but I guess they didn‘t believe me. They all bailed. 😂😂 I liked it because it was like being in English lectures again. But it‘s not quite what people expect from the blurbs I think. 2y
squirrelbrain Yes, it‘s not really what I expected at all @Centique - even though my Mum had read it before me and found it hard work. (I just didn‘t believe her!) 2y
Librarybelle Great review! 2y
86 likes17 comments
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squirrelbrain
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Thanks for the tag @robinb 😘

1. Do people just have one to-do list?! I have several - all very long and very unachievable.....
2. I had a wonderful Zoom call with some lovely Littens... supposedly to talk about a book but that took all of 15 minutes... the rest of the time we put the world to rights, and then planned what book we would attempt to discuss next time! @julesG @scripturient @Oryx @Caroline2

Do all of you want to play along? 😘

Cupcake12 @squirrelbrain I‘m a Virgo so I have a list to make a list🤣 Zoom calls are a lifeline at the moment too. Thank you for playing x 2y
Oryx Definitely a highlight of my weekend too - lots of fun chatting to you all @squirrelbrain @Caroline2 @scripturient @julesG 2y
squirrelbrain I‘m a Virgo too @Cupcake12 ! We just can‘t help ourselves can we?! 2y
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TrishB I have several to do lists! And that sounds like a zoom call worth attending 😁 2y
squirrelbrain You‘re more than welcome to come along to the next one @TrishB - we‘ve only done a couple as they developed from when our Gladstone‘s retreat was cancelled for the second time. The next one is 4th Feb, ‘discussing‘ Piranesi, although I might not get chance to read it before then.... 2y
Oryx @TrishB yes, definitely join us! 2y
TrishB @squirrelbrain @Oryx oh I‘d love to thank you 😁❤️ 2y
julesG @TrishB The more the merrier. 😁 2y
squirrelbrain @TrishB - yay! So glad you‘re joining us! 2y
charl08 Sounds good! 2y
Caroline2 @TrishB Yay 😃 Trish! It‘ll be so lovely to chat with you! It was such a laugh, I really enjoyed it too. So sorry I had to leave early, even up in the loft the kids still find me and cause mischief!!! 🙄 😆 @Jules @squirrelbrain @Oryx @scripturient 2y
TrishB @julesG @squirrelbrain @Caroline2 sounds like good fun 👍🏻 can‘t wait. 2y
squirrelbrain Let us know if you want to join in too @charl08 and we‘ll add you to the Zoom list.... 2y
charl08 @squirrelbrain 🙏 lovely thought. I'm a bit zoomed out just now, but I love the idea of you all chatting away. 2y
54 likes14 comments
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks
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Santa came!!! Thank you Soubhi!! I love the art piece! It‘s so beautiful! The flower seeds give me inspiration for the spring! I didn‘t plant anything this year... These books look awesome! Thank you so very much!! 🎉🎊🎁🎈 🎅

#LitsyLove

Soubhiville You‘re welcome Misty! Thanks for everything you do for all of us! 💕 Enjoy. 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Soubhiville you‘re the best!! ❤️💕 2y
79 likes2 comments
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moreza
Pickpick

An interesting narrative of revolutionary Iran narrated by the author, an English literature professor. Perhaps at times Nafisi focuses on other literature too much, rather than narrating the altogether more compelling lives of "her girls" from her book club. Nevertheless, by the end the story finally centres more around the girls and therefore satisfies the reader.

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Trina0401
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Mishu94
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Been reading and side by side I have started colouring, it‘s suppose to help with stress management! So far it‘s been really therapeutic! Alsooo I‘m really enjoying this read! 🤗

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Mishu94
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Reading something a little different! Heard great things about it, lets seeeee! 😬

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Tanisha_A
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Got these 2 for a discount. Fun Saturday! 😀
#bookhaul

TrishB Cool 👍🏻 3y
Billypar I love both of these books: what a great pair! 3y
readordierachel Awesome! 3y
See All 8 Comments
Tanisha_A @Billypar I have always been fascinated by the subject of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Sounds exactly like what i would love. But i do want to read Lolita before i pick that up. 3y
Tanisha_A @readordierachel @TrishB Have you read any of these? ☺️ 3y
readordierachel I read Reading Lolita in Tehran a long time ago. I remember liking it, but the details are fuzzy 🙂 3y
TrishB No 😞 I have Reading Lolita on the pile! But never got to!! Too many books etc etc 3y
Tanisha_A @TrishB Gosh! It's tense sometimes, that problem of TBR. 🥺 3y
68 likes8 comments
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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. 3y
Hooked_on_books It‘s a good one! 3y
vivastory Great choice 👍 3y
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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.🙂 3y
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. 3y
LeahBergen I was a bit underwhelmed by this book myself (but I, too, think it was situational for me). 🤷🏻‍♀️ 3y
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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.... 3y
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! 3y
youneverarrived @LeahBergen yeah, it seems like the type of book you have to be in the proper mood for. 3y
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. 3y
youneverarrived @Billypar I will definitely go back to it at some point, when I‘m more in the mood for a long, detailed read. 3y
59 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. 3y
rachaich @Libby1 that's exactly it! 3y
17 likes2 comments
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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 😺 4y
Crazeedi Welcome to Litsy !🎉🎉 4y
49 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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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. 4y
TheBookHippie Oh I so loved reading this. It's my daughters favorite book. 4y
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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! 4y
61 likes1 comment
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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! ❤️ 4y
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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. 4y
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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!🌹 4y
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