What Adichie says is true and important, yes. However, this short text didn't tell me anything new and was pretty superficial. So, five stars for theWhat Adichie says is true and important, yes. However, this short text didn't tell me anything new and was pretty superficial. So, five stars for the sentiment but three for the text. Sorry....more
The reason why I became interested in this book is that it deals with literature and literary criticism. I hoped Nafisi would give me an impr4.5 stars
The reason why I became interested in this book is that it deals with literature and literary criticism. I hoped Nafisi would give me an impression of how western literature is perceived in an Islamic country. Did I get what I wanted? Yes! And I got even more.
Most books can teach the reader a thing or two; and I absolutely think that you can take away something valuable/interesting/fun/thought-provoking from every book you read. However, it has been a long long time since a book has managed to convey to me this much information about a topic that was fairly new to me.
Call me ignorant, but all I really knew about the 1980's revolution and the war in Iran came from watching "Argo" in 2012. So the moment I connected my experience of this movie with "Reading Lolita in Tehran" something shifted. It was like a part of a puzzle falling into place ("So THIS is what's going on here!"). The last novel that has taught me that much about the history, politics, and culture of a country was Rushdie's "Midnight's Children". And even though Nafisi's book is not a novel as such it does follow a narrative. Where Rushdie's novel mixes fact with fiction to form a plot encompassing decades, Nafisi manages to tell the (life) stories of people that were in some way or other important to her. I love how she mixes these stories with political events, cultural history, and her very own interpretations of some of the greatest literary classics.
My only point of criticism is the way she structured her narrative. I have no objection to how she used authors as points of orientation (starting with Nabokov, ending with Austen); it's just that while reading I sometimes couldn't place where we were on the timeline of the story. The middle part which deals with the actual war between Iran and Irak had me completely at a loss as to when the aforementioned Thursday morning classes with "her girls" took place. I felt like sometimes I could have used a signpost (like a date or year at the beginning of each chapter) just to make sure at which point we were in the big picture of it all.
But apart from this small point of criticism I loved "Reading Lolita in Tehran". If you're interested in the role of women in Islamic culture or feminism in general, or if you'd like to read about literary criticism in the face of censorship or simply would like to know more about the events occuring in the 1980s in Tehran, this book is for you! Plus: it's a highly readable account of Nafisi's life.
This was okay. I was actually expecting something more along the lines of a travel account. But "Wild" is more like a journey of self-discovery. I wouThis was okay. I was actually expecting something more along the lines of a travel account. But "Wild" is more like a journey of self-discovery. I would've liked more wilderness and less family troubles, I guess. Don't get me wrong, this is a great book for what it wants to do and to be... and it is much better than its whiny cousin "Eat Pray Love", I was just expecting something else.
A note on the audio book: I simply did not like the speaker. To me she sounded kind of plaintive and, honestly, a bit too old for the part. She did a great job but I think her voice didn't fit the character....more
This is a really nice short overview of Gutenberg's achievements and the impact his inventions had and still have.
Starting with Gutenberg's history aThis is a really nice short overview of Gutenberg's achievements and the impact his inventions had and still have.
Starting with Gutenberg's history and some details of his inventions Jarvis goes on to liken him to inventors and successful business ideas of our time. He even manages to give an overview of the parallels of the inventions of the printing press and the Internet while quoting McLuhan and Eisenstein (two of the most important scholars in that field) - and all of it in a bit more than half an hour if you listen to the audio book!
A great introduction to the topic of the printing press and it's impact on modern society!...more
I needed some time to find words to describe this reading experience. Emily Gould does not reinvent the wheel here; neither are her 4 ½ stars, actually.
I needed some time to find words to describe this reading experience. Emily Gould does not reinvent the wheel here; neither are her anecdotes unique or especially weird/funny/terrible/anything. Why all the stars, then? Well, I guess that’s because I could relate to her so much. This collection simply got to me since I am in a very similar situation right now as Gould was when she came to NY. Having finished my Master’s Degree I am looking for my first “real” job and having a degree in the humanities section makes this, well, let’s say, a bit of a pain in the ass. Reading this, I sometimes felt directly talked to (or talked about). For instance:
“I’d thought that I was smart, that it was my smartness that made me exceptional. Now I had to adjust my thinking in one of two ways. 1. I wasn’t smart, but something else made me exceptional. 2. I was neither smart nor exceptional.” (p.20)
"In college I’d had a half-acknowledged fantasy that a teacher would recognize some talent in me and decide to make me her protégé, but it had never happened, probably because I was such a prickly and pretentious little jerk, with no innate gift for ass-kissing." (p.91)
and this one:
“I searched the job descriptions, looking for a position that seemed to have what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find one. It would have helped, I guess, if I’d any idea what I was looking for.” (p.93)
Those quotes could have been taken from my personal diary (if I had one). And I felt understood and also a bit creeped out. And then it got really creepy. There is this one description of how she says good-bye to her boyfriend every morning when she goes to work.
“I breathed in his warm, sleepy smell and touched the bristles of his close-shaved head, admiring the defenseless, private look of him without his glasses.” (p.206)
Sounds exactly like my boyfriend when I say good-bye to him in the morning before going to “work” (God, I hate my job!).
There is also one anecdote that deals with a long-time friend she keeps in contact with only sporadically, but every time they meet it feels so great and they feel so close and she sees how much she has missed her and so on. And on other occasions there is this unbridgeable gap between them and she cannot remember why they were friends once and they don’t really have anything in common any more. I guess everyone has someone like that in their life but when I read this I clearly saw the face of my oldest girlfriend in front of me and remembered various occasions that were examples of those scenarios described by Gould.
There are many more (sometimes very personal and detailed) examples which completely got to me because of their similarity to my experiences and my life.
The only aspect of this collection I have to criticize is that sometimes Gould seems to lack the ability to focus. Her essays don’t always follow a common thread and she keeps jumping between topics. But really, this is the only negative thing I can say about this. I know that people tend to think that she is a bit too full of herself but, honestly, what do you expect when you pick up an autobiographical essay collection?
The relationships and friendships and job-related situations she describes where just so relatable to me it sometimes hurt. This book made me smile and it made me shed a tear or two. It simply got (to) me. And I realize that this is a very personal impression and not everyone will love this collection as much as I did but I am also guessing that there are more people out there who feel like Emily Gould – and like me, for that matter. ...more
What bothered me most about „The Creation of Anne Boleyn“ was that it lacked in substance. I was expecting a theory concerning Boleyn’s image and theWhat bothered me most about „The Creation of Anne Boleyn“ was that it lacked in substance. I was expecting a theory concerning Boleyn’s image and the way representations of her have changed through the years. I would have liked something of a statement as to whether her depictions have changed and how she has been perceived, and a discussion about why she is stills so well-known and popular.
Well, that is not what this book is about. If you are already a Boleyn enthusiast, there won’t be anything new in this one for you. Actually it contains quite a lot of retelling and is fairly repetitive. There really is no coherent theory in this text.
Bordo’s tone is quite condescending at times. Attacking fellow writers like David Starkey and Alison Weir seems to be her favourite pastime. And honestly, attacking Starkey’s work for being too much on the narrative site? Really? It’s not a secret that his style reads rather personal and story-telling-like (sorry, can’t think of a better word). So, yeah, easy target. But I think Starkey deems his readers intelligent enough not to take everything he writes at face-value. Readers do not need to be told to question what they are being told. However, Bordo does think so. She criticizes Starkey and Weir for not telling their readers to be sceptical! I am not the biggest Starkey-fan on earth myself, but what Bordo does can be categorized as nit picking at best.
And if she’s not bashing Starkey, then she is gushing about the beauty and insightfulness that is Natalie Dormer (the actress that played Boleyn in “The Tudors” TV show). Yes, I get it, you met her and you loved her. Of course you loved her! She shared all your opinions on Boleyn.
Bordo also seems to believe that in medieval times sex was a very secret thing that nobody knew about. Ridiculously she believes in the ideal of courtly love depicted in chivalric poetry. I had to put down my kindle, I was laughing so hard. A sample: “This was a culture in which sexual consummation does not seem to have been the apotheosis of personal fulfillment that it was to become as physical desire replaced spiritualized, courtly constructions of “longing” in romantic love”(p.53). Ha!
Part one of the book does quite a good job at retelling the story of Anne Boleyn, I guess. But like I said, this is old news to anyone interested in her as an iconic persona. Part two is a collection of what people posted on Bordo’s facebook page and what Natalie Dormer thinks about Anne Boleyn and her portrayal of her in “The Tudors”. There is also a chapter on that show where Bordo keeps on telling you how cringe-worthy it all was but how Dormer captured Anne’s spirit so well and blah blah blah.
All in all, there is not much flesh to her theory. I am not even sure if she has one. She keeps quoting scholars and facebook friends (and Natalie Dormer) – and she reuses quotes over and over – and I got the feeling she hasn’t done much work or thinking or analysing herself. Claiming that “we really have no way of knowing” is not a really good conclusion to all those theories she keeps dismissing.
The one good point she makes is that it was not all Anne Boleyn’s fault and people tend to make the mistake of appropriating all the blame to Anne and underestimating Henry – which is weird since Henry kept up the crazy and even turned it up a notch or two long after Anne was dead.
So there, I managed to end this on a positive note.