February Nonfiction Meetup

Our February nonfiction book selection is Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi. As with all of our book selections, you can find the selection at most libraries and used book stores. Of course, the author naturally will thank you for buying the book new. For Amazon information, click here: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi.

As ever, you do not need to read all or any of the book to participate in our lively discussion. We ask $3 at the door to cover Press Club usage and our Meetup.com fee. No one will be turned away.

Adapted from an Amazon.com Review - An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes. Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds. The great works encouraged them to strike out against authoritarianism and repression in their own ways, both large and small: "There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes. In short, the art helped them to survive.


NEXT BOOK SELECTION:
Please vote on our March and April selections through the "Polls" function on the website. And please nominate books for future club selections by contacting Frances directly. OUR REGULAR MEETUP LOCATION:
The Denver Press Club has offered us the use of their historic facility in downtown Denver for our meetups. By group decision, we meet the FOURTH THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH. As our Thanks, please patronize the establishment. The Press Club restaurant and bar opens at 5 PM, in case you wish to come early for dinner and possibly meet fellow readers or some of Denver's top journalists. We start our meeting at 7 PM. We're usually done by 8:30.

The oldest continuously operating press club in North America, the Denver Press Club is at 1330 Glenarm Place (across from the Denver Athletic Club). Parking: There are a few spaces behind the building in the alley and a few more angle-in spaces on the north side of the building between the Press Club and the Colorado Press Association (free after 5 PM). If these are full, there are on-street parking meters and parking lots on each corner of the block (avoid the monthly parking spaces directly south of the building, however). The parking lots on 13th Street ares less expensive than the parking lots on 14th Street.

SEE YOU on Thursday, February 24!

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  • Alice S.

    Great discussion. Wide variety of input. I feel like we could have discussed the book even further but time ran out.

    February 25, 2011

  • Stephanie M.

    Thought provoking. Thanks for organizing.

    February 25, 2011

  • Diana S.

    It's always such a treat to go to the meetings! The members do a great job at educating one another. The opinions, comments and ideas are so diverse it makes it even more engaging. It was a great discussion.

    February 25, 2011

  • Janet

    the Bookseller of Kabul, Infidel, Three cups of tea, beautyparlor of Kabul all tell interesting stories of Arabic women as well, Reading Lolita gives an example of more educated women ( which Iran may be known for)

    February 24, 2011

  • josephine j.

    I hear you--before this book was chosen, I was giving up on it, too. But now that I've persevered, I'm glad and am looking forward to the discussion. Your views would certainly add to that conversation, and as you know you're not required to read the book in order to participate. Thanks for the comment!

    February 3, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have read 1/3 the book and decided this is not for me. I'd love to learn more about the women of the Arab world, but not via their reading fiction and implied innuendo about a pervert who entraps and rapes a 12 year old girl in either America or Britian. There are far more worthy books about Arab women and their lives in Irag and Afghanistan etc. Sooooo disappointed.

    January 31, 2011

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