Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, is based on a true story of one female professor’s experience before and during the revolution in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This book stretched me in my reading abilities. Although the vocabulary was easy and the chapters were small, the ideas presented were challenging to me– especially when they were presented through the reviews of various books including some by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. I was familiar only with a few of the books of these authors, and even then, it’s been awhile since I’ve read them.

The author uses these authors, and other forbidden western authors, to help explain and make parallels to what was going on in the hearts, minds, and souls of the women of Iran. The women that she talks about are mostly younger women in her classes whom she continued to meet with even after not being able to teach in the Universities anymore. I loved hearing about the lives of these young women, mostly my age, as they secretly met in the professor’s house, discussing these ideas that were forbidden. Whenever the young women would enter the house, they would be able to take off their drab black and dark blue coverings, and reveal the uniqueness of themselves underneath it all. It really represented to me that although women in some countries make look similar in their Muslim garb, underneath they are very very different — the same as you and me, really.

My favorite part about this book was trying to put myself in their shoes– and realizing their courage, their strength, and most importantly, their humanity. With many bad stereotypes flying around the U.S. about middle-eastern men and women, it was refreshing and helpful to be able to take a candid peek inside the life of many ordinary citizens of Iran.

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