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Showing 1-10 of 200 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 659 reviews
on May 5, 2017
My stepmother introduced me to this book. I'm not sure how our discussion led to this, but she was telling me of this site she got by email called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone". This had a picture of a woman weari her native dress from a Middle Eastern country before the religious zealots forced them to wear a type of robe, burqa and or veil. Though this was initially from a particular religious sect, when strong religious forces took control, they required all women to dress this way. Our writer wrote her memoir teaching English literature at a university in Tehran. When she started working, she wore western dress, until the government threatened the women with prison and the possibility of death if they did not comply in changing how they dressed. During this time a revolution was taking place in Iran with several factions attempting to get or hold on to control. During this time, war broke out between Iran and Iraq.
The style of punishment was gruesome and done publicly usually to force compliance with their laws. Our writer did move to the United States and went to college here studying English Literature. She took her knowledge back to Iran to discuss relationships in the stories (fiction) and draw comparisons to their own relationships. She left the university in Tehran after so much bullying against her and others. She invited several women to continue studying in her home. She couldn't invite men, because Iran at that time worked very hard to keep the sexes separate unless it was a spouse, parent or sibling. The lessons learned through literature was fascinating and was shared throughout the book. But it was these relationships and how they were handled in such a controlling regime. I really liked this book. It was insightful of another culture during a particular time and if you are curious about that, you will get a lot out of this book.
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on September 20, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memoir. Sadly I had not read Nabokov's Lolita at the time I read Nafisi's book. (I have since corrected that status.) Reading Nafisi's book inspired me, not only to read Lolita for the first time, but to add several new titles to my To Read List. (Coming from a science background, my exposure to great literature is a bit deficient.) Nafisi clearly has a passion for great literature.. and she introduced me to some titles of which I was previously unaware. Additionally, and importantly, the book offers a look into the chaos of civilian life during the Iranian Revolution (1979 and through 1980s). One can only feel empathy for Iranians under those circumstances... and particularly for females who were targeted for especially harsh treatment under the regime. In the end, I found myself wishing that I had been able to sit in on Dr. Nafisi's informal classes conducted in the living room of her Tehran home. What great fun-- and what a great learning experience -- that would have been..
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on May 24, 2016
I chose to read Reading Lolita in Tehran because I am currently in the middle of reading Lolita. I am very happy that I chose to read this book, it is beautifully written and powerful. This book details the authors, Azar Nafisi’s experiences in Iran after the revolution and her move to America. The book focuses on a class she teaches in her home, during the class they read forbidden western classic books including Lolita. This class gave Azar and her students a chance to take a break from he restrictions of the Islamic State, and gives them the freedom to express their individuality and opinions. I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who value individuality, individual freedom, women's empowerment, and those who appreciate he power of fiction. Personally, I plan on rereading this book in the summer after I finish reading Lolita, so that I can better appreciate Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Azar Nafisi's writing style lacked a lot of dialog, but made up for it with lots of descriptive language and powerful comparisons. The dialog that was included was appropriately placed within the memoir. Azar Nafisi is a talented story teller and while you read her book you can really envision the situations she was in and experience her feelings. A powerful composition made to compare Azars students to classic Greek characters is “Their mistakes, like the tragic flaw in a classic traded, become essential to their development and maturity.” (Nafisi 223). She uses Greek characters hamartia’s to relate to her young students. The student’s choices and mistakes help them become who they are by the end of their final class. Another great comparison was used to compare the students to some of Jane Austen's characters, “Austen’s protagonists are private individuals set in public places. Their desire for privacy and reflection is continually being adjusted to their situation within a very small community which keeps them under its constant scrutiny. The balance between the public and private is essential to this world.” (Nafisi 267). This comparison was used to show how important he class was for students to have their own private space to be themselves without strict laws getting in the way. The examples Azar uses are good for keeping the reader engaged and help them develop a clear image of Azar’s students. The most appropriate audience for this book is someone who doesn't expect a lot of intense action or dialog, but can appreciate hearing personal complex thoughts and feelings.

Even though I've never been in any situations similar to Azar Nafisi I was able to feel for her and think of points in my life that I felt similar emotions to hers. For example, I can relate to her students and herself feeling trapped without a private life. Being in high school while being controlled by adults can feel like I have no private life, but this is so different and less intense compared to Azar Nafisi’s experiences, regardless she makes it easy to relate to her emotions while reading the book. Azar did an incredible job of describing her students on a very personal level. She made it easy to understand their internal and external struggles. To a degree you were able to choose who to like and dislike, but most of Nafisi’s descriptions determined who you would trust and distrust. Nafisi’s explanations of characters struggles helped me better understand the characters as a whole, like this explanation of a characters relationship with wearing her scarf and the governments mandated dress code “…the revolution that imposed the scarf on others did not relive Mahshid of her loneliness. Before the revolution, she could in a sense take pride in her isolation. At that time she had worn the scarf as a testament to her faith. Her decision was a voluntary act. When the revolution forced the scarf on others, her actions became meaningless.” (Nafisi 13).By explaining the shift in the meaning of Mahshid wearing a scarf it allows the reader to better relate to her and have sympathy for her situation.
Azar did not write this book in chronical order. Instead the book jumps around in time from when she worked at a small university, to a large university, to her private class, and to moving to America, all of this is talked about but not in order of when the memories and situations happened. The way she does this doesn’t confuse the reader because she makes it clear what point in time she is describing within each chapter. This book was engaging the whole way through. Azar holds the reader’s attention by emerging them in the lives and emotional struggles of not only her students but her own life as well. Azar writes about many examples of the Islamic state restricting women’s rights and freedoms, she writes about how this effected students and herself. One student, Vida, is written about expressing her anger when she showed her rage regarding the regime’s new laws “‘The law?’ Vida interrupted him. ‘You guys came in and changed the laws. Is it the law? So was wearing the yellow star in Nazi Germany, should all the Jews have worn the star because it was the blasted law?” (Nafisi 134). By sharing Vida’s outrage with the reader they can become invested in Azar’s students’ lives. While reading this book I learned about what life was like for the people, particularly women, in Iran during the time Azar Nafisi lived there. I now have a better understanding of the restrictions the government put in place and the terrible things people unfairly suffered through.
Overall I am very pleased with Reading Lolita in Tehran. I learned about Iran and how their revolution affected the country’s women. I would recommend this book to anyone, primarily to anyone interested in modern history, learning about other cultures, women’s rights, and education.
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on March 12, 2017
I enjoyed the Authors view of Iran and the trials women in that country go through. Her writing style was very pleasant and created images that made me feel part of her group. I recommend this to anyone that wants an inside picture of daily life in Iran. It challenged me and humbled me at the same time. I felt connected to human beings that want the things from their life that I seek too.
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on June 30, 2014
I purchased this book for my teenaged granddaughters. I read it many years ago and it is a wonderful book that was entertaining, well written and thought provoking. I had thought that the USA could never change like Iran did from a modern society to a theocracy. But, in reading this book, I realized how easy it is to look the other way while major changes are taking place. I loved to stories of all the women in the book and I loved the lessons that I learned about another culture. This book truly changed my point of view on many things regarding other cultures. I think it is a must read for every woman--a truly wonderful book!
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on October 30, 2015
I enjoyed reading this book so much I bought the author's next book: Republic of the Imagination.
Leave it to someone who came from a society where this fruit has been forbidden to open our eyes to the value of reading western literature
and the contributions it has made to making the world a better place to live.
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on April 18, 2017
I read this years ago in a book club, and was really impressed. We have been reading a lot of books now about badly women have been treated in the middle east chiefly through the Taliban, and this is one I brought into the writing group I run...they all loved it,.
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on April 22, 2015
It took me a bit to get into this book. If I hadn't listened to it on audio I probably wouldn't have made it very far. But I am so glad i did! The author talks about her memories of the Iranian Revolution mixed with her personal memories, specifically of a secret book club for her female literature students. It broke my heart many times to hear of the abuses by the government and it was also sadly reminiscent of many current revolutions in the middle east. Clearly history repeats itself and we are left wondering how we can prevent these atrocities in the future. While not answering that question, the author certainly makes a case for literature as a saving grace in her life.

On the downside, it is a bit long-winded and, well, pretentious. The author could have used a better editor as we did not need such lengthy descriptions of how her lunch companions ate their salad. But this is forgivable to me because, in return for your patience, you receive a feeling of immersion in this time in Iran - the feeling of hopelessness it entails along with the beauty of the literature she loves.
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on May 6, 2016
2nd reading, many years apart. Enjoyed it more this time because of an increased interest and awareness of all things Iranian. One needs a rather substantial background in English literature to grasp all the references Nafisi makes to books she is introducing to her students. Her relative calmness throughout her time in Tehran before leaving permanently for the US, especially when the Ayatola Kohlmeni was in power, is breathtaking. Nafisi is one tough cookie!
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on May 5, 2016
I didn't finish the book (by choice) so this may not be a fair review. The book seemed more about "me," the author than about the women it's supposed to be about.
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