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POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Forty

Good morning, everyone! I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend so far! It’s been a pretty exciting week here at The Unapologetic Bookworm. In addition to completing this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge at the beginning of the week, the site has reached a huge milestone.

The Unapologetic Bookworm officially has more than 100 followers!

I cannot thank you all enough for your support and your love for this website! The fact that you continue to visit and read my writing is literally what gets me up in the morning, and I am so grateful for you all.

Today is the final day of Banned Books Week, which makes this the perfect opportunity to share my final POPSUGAR Reading Challenge book with you. As you know, my final prompt was “read a banned book during Banned Books Week.” While I was somewhat annoyed with the time restriction that was placed on this prompt, and did consider reading my banned book earlier in the year (as others chose to do), I’m really glad that I decided to wait until Banned Books Week to read this particular title. Given the focus of this week, I really could not have chosen a better book to read.

Read a banned book during Banned Books Week…

Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, is an incredible book. As the front cover indicates, it is “a memoir in books,” which gives the reader insights not only into the life of the author as she lived in revolutionary Iran, but also shows the impact of the books that she was reading and teaching at the time. She discusses the censorship that became prevalent during the revolution, and also shows what life was like for women in Iran during this period.

For me, the most interesting parts of the book involved the author’s interactions with her university students. The way in which she approached literature was amazing! I was deeply impressed with the way in which she persevered in teaching books and authors that were often questioned, and in some cases identified as being “immoral” by some of her students.

Part of the reason that I chose to read this book for this prompt, rather than something from the American Library Association’s list of banned books, was because it was banned in the author’s home country rather than my own. I’ve read a lot of books that have been banned or challenged here in the United States, but I haven’t really taken the opportunity to specifically seek out books that have been banned in other countries.

I first learned about Reading Lolita in Tehran during Banned Books Week in 2019. In the course of my research for an article I was writing at the time, I came across a video on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website about the topic of book burning. While the video primarily focused on the books burned by the Nazis, Azar Nafisi was one of the speakers in the video, and she talked about how totalitarian regimes attempt to confiscate people’s history and culture.

She also had the following to say about her own book…

“For me it is both heartbreaking and, quote/unquote, ‘a sort of badge of honor’ that my book is not allowed to be published in Iran. It has been translated into thirty-five languages, and not in Persian.”

Azar Nafisi

After seeing that video, I knew that I needed to read Reading Lolita in Tehran for myself.

I really enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran. It was a very eye-opening read, and I feel like I learned a lot from the book. I also had a really hard time putting it down! I actually read the first three-quarters of the book in a single day because I was so invested in Azar Nafisi’s journey. Since finishing the book, I have learned that she has written several others, which I am very interested in reading in the future.

Whether you are interested in memoirs or banned books, or want to support authors who have experienced censorship, I highly recommend Reading Lolita in Tehran. I really think it is a book which should be read, and by as many people as possible.

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