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Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran
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Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Roger Housden traveled to Iran to meet with artists, writers, film makers and religious scholars who embody the long Iranian tradition of humanism, the belief in scholarship and artistry that began with the reign of Cyrus the Great. He traveled to the mountains of Kurdistan to learn from Sufis, whose version of Islam exhorts nothing but tolerance and love. From the bustle ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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David Housholder
May 02, 2011 David Housholder rated it it was amazing
I came of age in the USA in the middle of the Ayatollah's revolution and the debacle of the hostages. It predisposed me against everything Iranian.

Thus this book was painting its story on a "tabula rasa," a blank slate. I had virtually no concept of what Iran is like, at any level.

My prejudice continued for the first part of the book. Also, I am not used to reading travelogues.

Then it started to grow on me.

Part of it was Housden's unparalleled ability to paint crisp pictures in your mind with w
May 17, 2011 Kristi rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Roger Housden has a wonderful, descriptive way to write about beauty in the world and how beauty affects us. This is such an interesting story about his travels to Iran and the east, but what spoke to me most in this book was his love and appreciation of beauty.

I would like to quote some of my favorite passages in this book, and would like you to know that the quotes are taken from the uncorrected proof.

On the subject of art-
“Art's only mission is to make people feel closer. This little phrase
Aug 14, 2011 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Roger Housden and I have something in common: a fascination with Iran which pre-dated going to that country. My own interest in Iran was of relatively recent date when I first travelled there in 2000. It had been awakened through my work only a few years before, whereas Housden - in his sixties when he went to Iran in 2008 - had been interested in the country since his youth. Housden and I also differed in the source of our fascination with the country: he came to his interest through an appreci ...more
May 03, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Housden carries with him a long cherished, admittedly romantic notion of Iran, which he wants to experience firsthand, and then share with the rest of us. He travels to Iran shortly before Obama's inauguration, choosing his British passport over his newly acquired American one. He has a few contacts there, which inevitably lead to a few more, and a list of must-see places to visit. He states that he "wanted to look beyond the political wrangling altogether, to the truth and beauty of an ancient ...more
May 02, 2011 Nichelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2011 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: iran, memoir
This was okay, but a little too much poetic waxing for my taste. I do love the subject though.
Diane C.
Dec 16, 2016 Diane C. rated it really liked it
Roger Housden takes you on a tour of Iran, the people and some of their homes, the attractions, the culture and spiritual practices, the poetry in a way that is easy to infuse yourself with the beauty that is Persia/modern day Iran.

What most of us know of Iran is the revolution unseating Shah Reza Pahlavi back in the late 70's and the advent of strict Islamic fundamentalism. Yet 21st century Iran is not a bit like Afghanistan, Al Quaeda or ISIS. It's a place full of self expression, art, film, s
Jeannie Mancini
Mar 18, 2013 Jeannie Mancini rated it it was amazing
As a lover of travel literature, I recently came across Roger Housden's Saved By Beauty in my favorite used bookstore, and immediately opened the book the moment I arrived home. This memoir of Roger's meanderings from city to city uncovering the true heart of Iran's people and culture left me in awe. From Tehran to Tabriz, from Shiraz to Isfahan, from the heart of the ancient ruins of Persepolis, to dusty deserts and mountain citadels, Housden's ability to evoke the beauty and integrity of Iran' ...more
Sawsan Obeid-zeki
Jul 21, 2015 Sawsan Obeid-zeki rated it it was amazing
Writing a review about Roger Housden's Saved by beauty has not been easy. I have to say, I've never felt a strong pull to publicly review a book before, until Housden`s Saved By Beauty. But if there was a purpose in me reading it, its so that I can share my opinion of the book!!!

To call it a travel log is an understatement. Also, to say that the book speaks of his romantic notion of Iran is wrong, because it is not a notion any more. His enthusiasm radiates intensely throughout the narrative, l
Vera Marie
Jan 25, 2013 Vera Marie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel-memoir
Roger Housden‘s Saved by Beauty combines an enticing travel guidebook with a philosophical memoir as he travels in Iran, seeking the beautiful culture he first fell in love with (at a distance) as a student.

If I am right, and poetry provides the key to Westerners understanding the Middle East, particularly Iran, then Roger Housden will be the perfect person to unlock that meaning.

Before visiting Iran, he wrote several books about poetry, including one about Rumi, a revered Iranian poets of the 1
Jul 30, 2013 Phillip rated it really liked it
This book is about half a travelogue and half a personal journey of sorts for the author (by that I mean, he spends a lot of time musing about his own place in the world, as he travels throughout Iran). As a travelogue, there are a lot of lucid, well-written descriptions of the areas he visits (Isfahan was particularly vivid for me, and it was fun to follow-up a chapter of his descriptions with visits to flickr or similar sites, to put the descriptions in context). I came at this book with a bac ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Roberta rated it it was amazing
I loved this book about a culture I know only from the political news. The author is a lover of the poetry of Rumi and Hafez, as I am, and it is sprinkled throughout the book. He finds ironically that even Iranian bureaucrats quote Hafez from memory. There are wonderful descriptions of the ancient mosques and cities of the country. Though the book starts and ends with a disturbing incident at the airport in Tehran where he was detained and interrogated for days and suspected of working for the C ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Take a trip to the world of Rumi with this American journalist to today's Iran. Mr. Housden's journey across this mysterious country unveils the dichotomy of perception and reality. Where a people living amidst poverty, war and other depressing conditions strive because of one thing, the perspective of Rumi and other ancient Iranian poets. The Iranian people see the world through the same romance Mr. Housden found while reading these poets. Oases for the senses, found in secluded cafes or temple ...more
May 15, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
This book was beautifully written and showed a portrayal of Iran that I have never seen or heard of in the media. Although I enjoyed the story, I often found myself skipping over parts that went into a ton of detail about the history of poets and important religious figures. While I am sure a lot of research and detail went into these parts, they droned on for me and did not interest me. I was more interested in the dialogues and descriptions of people he met.

While this was not a quick or overl
May 24, 2011 notRahimeanymore rated it it was amazing
Shelves: firstreads
This was some of the most enjoyable travel writing I've ever read. I really appreciated the author's ability to not exoticize everything just because he was in another country, and the book was personally very interesting to me (as a Sufi-influenced Sunni Muslim) because of the author's interest in Sufi poets (Rumi, Hafez). I was also fascinated by what happens right at the end of his stay, having spent time in a despotic Central Asian country with a secret police and having had some run-ins wit ...more
Beth Hartnett
Jul 28, 2011 Beth Hartnett rated it it was ok
Yes, a horrible title and an odd book as I'm halfway through. I think I'm reading it in honor of my friend Mamals Gohari, who lived in my dorm at the University of Trier in Germany and then was studying for his PhD in Berlin the same time I lived there. He never said he was Iranian, but always proudly called himself Persian. This book is honoring the legacy of the great civilization of Persia while highlighting the issues Iranian citizens have living in their country today. Will keep you posted!
Nov 10, 2011 Nancee rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I won this in a Goodreads drawing. I really wanted to finish it and give it a good review. About half way through though, I just couldn't go anymore. It was very artsy, flowery and failed to hold my attention. There was some interesting information about Iran, but I couldn't get into the book. I've accepted that I'm always going to choose something else to do, so I've moved this to the "didn't finish" category. I hate to do that, but it is what it is.
David Harris
Jan 11, 2016 David Harris rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It contains some very interesting descriptive sections on various cities in Iran, and these were what I enjoyed most. But I felt like the author was a bit too verbose at times, particularly when discussing his meetings with artists and other prominent individuals in the country. But, to be fair, a travelogue is what I was really looking for, and this book didn't pretend to be just that.
Jan 07, 2012 Amari rated it really liked it
Worthwhile. Reasonable, respectful, expressive. I appreciate the fact that the great majority of the book is written from a perspective of wonderment, despite the events described in the beginning and end. I'm happy to have learned some Persian history/politics/religion in such a personal and even expansive way.
Jan 01, 2014 Ellen rated it it was amazing
An unusual glimpse into the world of artists in Iran and the author's own interests in Rumi and Persia. He paints a portrait to very different from the news coverage and delves into the heart of what draws the successful Iranian artists to return to their homeland. It was an unusual book - part travelogue, part memoir.
K2 -----
Jun 25, 2011 K2 ----- rated it really liked it
A lovely and flowing glimpse into Iran like few Americans have read about previously. He is a great writer and made me want to go to see these ancient sites and visit with the people he and others have found to be so hospitable and kind. I dream of a day that American women can travel there with ease to meet the people and embrace the culture.
Jul 09, 2013 Naomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
The best travel literature reveals the author and his sense of home as much as where he is witnessing and traveling. Housden's journey to Iran adheres to this understanding, and, as such, is a meditation on life and art and beauty and living a good life as a story of visiting the great shrines of saints and poets and meeting contemporary artists and religious leaders.
Jun 25, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Picked this up at the library and ended up really liking it. A good travelog of Iran with a focus on poetry and art. With just enough intrigue to keep things interesting.
Nov 04, 2013 Neil rated it it was amazing
One of the best books that I have ever read. The language, history, travel details, and uniqueness are most special. I have recommended often to friends.
Jul 05, 2014 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Although I don't share the author's philosophic bent, his travels through the various areas and religions of Iran were very interesting. I respected when he reported feeling culture shock as well.
Sep 14, 2012 Stefanie rated it really liked it
A wonderful inside look at recent Iran. Compelling and makes you sad for all that is going on there today.
Melak Al Qayyar
Melak Al Qayyar rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2013
Fahad rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2011
Mary rated it liked it
Dec 09, 2011
Art rated it really liked it
Feb 12, 2013
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Roger Housden is the author of some twenty books of non fiction, including the best selling Ten Poems series. His new book, SAVED BY BEAUTY: ADVENTURES OF AN AMERICAN ROMANTIC IN IRAN, comes out on May 17 2011 with Broadway Books.
More about Roger Housden...

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