Customer Reviews for

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Average Rating 3.5
( 145 )
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(54)

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(38)

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(18)

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(25)

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(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Insightful and wonderfully-written

People have complained about this book for numerous reasons, for everything from Nafisi being a propagandist for the Bush administration to it being too 'boring' for focusing on literary criticism in detail when it should just be a narrative memoir. First...
People have complained about this book for numerous reasons, for everything from Nafisi being a propagandist for the Bush administration to it being too 'boring' for focusing on literary criticism in detail when it should just be a narrative memoir. First of all, this book is a book written by a woman who is passionate about books - in essence, a book about books. Nafisi was a literary professor at a university in Tehran before her expulsion during the ascent of the regime/revolution. Her sobering, first-hand experiences living during the Regime in Iran, coupled with her unquenchable penchant for literature, drove her to write this memoir, and the result is a triumphant weaving of the two - current events in the Middle East and timeless Western literature playing off each other as described by an Iranian woman passionate about freedom, women's rights and¿Western literature. This is hardly propaganda. What it is is a memoir about literature and the powerful joy it brings, even in tumultuous times in the Middle East during bombing raids and wearing the veil mandatorily, and a consequent first-hand look into the lifestyle in such a predicament by an author who, while candid and completely honest in her condemnation of the totalitarian regime she was subjected to, does not once act bitter or caustic about her ordeals, or write about her impressions in a way that is at all manipulative or self-righteous. Any 'human' emotions or a opinions Nafisi does express simply reflect the fact that this is, after all, a memoir - a personal account of things that could be written in otherwise impersonal works (i.e. current events books and literary anthologies). 'Reading Lolita In Tehran' gives us an insight into both famous books and modern politics/history, but through the less-formal account of a woman who, although isn't treating it formally, knows an awful darn lot about both. And she happens to be a really interesting person and a really good writer.

posted by Anonymous on May 27, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Fails to Meet the Promise

The author has a fascinating story to tell--that of life during the Islarmic Revolution in Iran. The problem is that the editor allowed the author to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing her favorite fiction books and authors. The interesting non...
The author has a fascinating story to tell--that of life during the Islarmic Revolution in Iran. The problem is that the editor allowed the author to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing her favorite fiction books and authors. The interesting non-fiction aspects of her life were relegated to second place status in the book. I found this disappointing book to be a slow and boring read.

posted by Anonymous on June 15, 2004

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2004

    Fails to Meet the Promise

    The author has a fascinating story to tell--that of life during the Islarmic Revolution in Iran. The problem is that the editor allowed the author to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing her favorite fiction books and authors. The interesting non-fiction aspects of her life were relegated to second place status in the book. I found this disappointing book to be a slow and boring read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    Think Twice Before You Buy

    I guess this would be a pretty good book, if were incredibly politically aware, especially of the entire history of the Middle East, since the 1970's. Also if you don't mind frequent, sudden, confusing switches between time periods. The authorial voice is kind of confusing, because it changes from all-knowing to know-nothing, with no warning. Finally, the sample of this book is misleading, because it starts like it is about a book club of Middle Eastern women, and is really about only the author. I was very disappointed when I discovered this last fact. So be warned!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2008

    I have a policy of always finishing what I start but......

    I can usually push myself to finish whatever book I start reading. I don't think I have ever given up on one but this may be my first. I just took this book with me on a 5 day trip and normally would have finished but I ended up reading about 20 pages. I feel like another reviewer, if I wanted to read a critique of Lolita and other books mentioned in this book I would have read the Cliff Notes. I was expecting more of what life had been like while the reading group was happening. I am disappointed and ready to move on.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    I don¿t believe Azar Nafisi was meant to be a memoirist. In Read

    I don’t believe Azar Nafisi was meant to be a memoirist. In Reading Lolita in Tehran she remained too self-absorbed to make me care about her students which left very little meaning to the book. She wasted details on trivial observations like the weather, but failed to flesh out the girls. I wanted to like this book, but I expected more. 

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  • Posted July 8, 2013

    I sent this one to the recycling center. It bored me to tears. I

    I sent this one to the recycling center. It bored me to tears. I liked the idea of it and loved the title, but the execution was a hatchet job.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    i bought this book thinking i'll be reading something compelling and insightful, man, was i wrong. it started out relatively slow, which is typical of memoirs so i let it pass. besides, the writing style was vivid and relaxed. but when it got to a point where it was getting nowhere, i simply quit reading. it became really stagnant and veered from what i thought would be the heart of the story which is living life with a constant feeling of fear because of reading banned literature. it then turned into a bore-fest by chapter 18, full of the author's opinions on lolita. if i knew it was going to be that way, i should've bought cliffsnotes on lolita instead. i was expecting a lot more from it because of all the praise it received from big-name publications. however, reading it firsthand made me think twice of relying on critics' opinions. the good thing though is that i bought this for a bargain price so i don't feel an ounce of guilt after.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    hard read

    I found this to be a difficult read and I was so interested in learning about the life in Iran. I felt she did book reviews trying to fit the women in. Didn't work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I picked up this book with excitement. At first I felt I was learning new things about the Islamic Republic of Iran, but soon the book started to annoy me. Please, do not tell me that all the answers to problems of life can only be found in Western literature. Have you explored the Indian and the Chinese literature? You did not find Rumi telling you the same things and much more? Love of literature is one thing, but to live in it is totally UNREAListic.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2007

    Missed the mark

    This book was confusing at best. It was difficult to follow what time period each story took place in and how they all fit together. Mixed in, was a literary review of differnt novels and authors. It just didn't come together. The concept of this book was so interesting and exciting. The idea of women secretly getting together to read censored novels in a muslim nation is facsinating. But it wasn't about that at all. This book clearly wasn't written for the masses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2005

    Couldn't finish it: really 2.5 stars

    The outline of the story is very intersting and the book is very, very well written however, I could not bring myself to finish it. The story begins to, uh, drag, if you well, in a very weird way. I found myself sort of interested but simultaneously finding it harder continue. I'm on page 88, hopefully one day I will finish, I really do like the idea of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2005

    I cant finish it

    I am having the hardest time finishing the last 1/4 of this book. I hate to not finish a book no matter how bad it is but I am getting frustrated with this one. I just cannot get into it. It feels like the story is all over the place and I cant keep up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    Could not get into it...

    We picked this book for our book club, and out of the five members - only one was able to finish -- the rest of us stuggled -- a shame, since it is so well written, and seems interesting, but it is a very cumbersome read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    shallow and tedious

    Tihs book rambled on forever and mixed complaints about serious human rights violations with trivial things like not being able to wear pink socks. I really had no idea what the author was getting at besides letting off a lot of steam.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2005

    Not what I expected

    After receving this book for Christmas I was excited to read it. It was the first book that I picked up but I haven't finished it yet. Somewhere along the way I lost interest and found it hard to read more than a page at a time. I then moved on to reading another book and haven't turned back. I was expecting to read how these novels impacted the lives of the girls in the reading group. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't find this at all in the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2005

    great start-but couldnt last

    this book started out amazing and i was in love with it at first-but i must say i couldnt finish this book. its like everytime the women made progress or there was a 'revelation'-they just kept haveing to take steps backword b/c of the asinine society they live in. these poor women are just trapped. I do love how this book discusses great works of fiction-that part was very rewarding-but like i said these women-thier only freedom exists in the mind-and i wouldnt even go that far as to say that becasue they lead such horrible lives. and honestly-i didnt like the location of the book-i dont like being 'transported' to iran. anyway so yes this book is painful to read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    My thoughts

    This book was not very difficult to read, however because I had not read most of the novels mentioned I lost interest about half way. I really liked getting an insight on the characters everyday lives, and certain parts made me really appreciate living in the US. I think if the book had been less about the novelâ¿¿s criticism and more about how living in Tehran related to the novels, the book would have been much more interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2004

    message lost in the literary criticism

    A little too much literary criticism for my taste. I would have enjoyed a more in depth look into the lives of the women in the novel. I didn't buy this book so I could read a critical analysis of 'classic Western authors', I wanted to read about the lives of women in Iran. Whereas, she did cover this subject, I just found myself becoming detached at times. The title and novel synopsis is somewhat misleading and disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    I do not understand what all the hype is about

    I was not drawn into her story. As interesting as it should have been (which it really wasn't), the author spent too much time trying to use metaphors and large words which were often out of context and used in inappropriate places. I did not care for her writing style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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