Sunday, March 6, 2011

School Reading Part 2: Iran & Brit Lit

It's been awhile since I did one of these posts. Here's my first one all about what I'm reading for school. I didn't actually stick to doing these posts once a month, but ah well. I doubt any of you are EAGERLY awaiting to hear what I'm required to read for school. I detested Beowulf, liked The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly well enough (strange book but I'm glad it was the first Brit Lit book we read, I would have hated starting off with Beowulf. The remixed fairy tales were very cool) and liked Macbeth. I really liked The Canterbury Tales solely because they were so scandalous! I haven't finished them yet because we only read certain stories from the book, but I have to finish the book on my own (I can't not finish a book, I have no idea why). The Wife of Bath's tale? The Reeve's tale? WHOA! It's funny because it shows that even people in the Middle Ages were gossips and had raging hormones. People really don't change. We skipped around in the book but I'm currently on "Chaucer's tale of Melibee", our teacher definitely picked the best stories for us to read because the rest seem to be dragging on. I would recommend reading "The Wife of Bath's tale" and "The Reeve's Tale" because they are so funny.

We just started Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. She is one of two female authors we will be reading (and no the second author is not Jane Austen, any of the Bronte sisters or George Eliot. Someone named Josephine Fey, I think. It's a more modern tale). I'm not vary familiar with this story actually, never saw the movie or anything. I know the bare minimum so I look forward to reading this tale that is so often quoted around Halloween.

We recently finished up studying the Romantic Poets. I wasn't particularly impressed with any of them, but I only like funny/sarcastic/witty poetry (or anything Nikki Giovanni does). I'm hoping to finish the year finding one English poet I like that we've studied, but I'm not so sure that's going to happen. I am happy that I learned about all these great poets of color when I asked for help in picking British poets to memorize 100 lines of their work. Unfortunately they either a) weren't funny or b) their poems were too short or too depressing for me to memorize. I've decided on A.H. Herbet and Edward Lear and maybe Pam Ayres. On the bright side, I now at least know who Robert Burns, John Keats and George Gordon Lord Byron are (along with Percy Shelley, Thomas Grey, etc, etc.) and I liked learning about their personal lives (Lord Byron=MAJOR PLAYER). Their actual poetry? Not so much. At least I now understand So Shelly and I want to read it.

What am I reading in my Comparative Government & Politics class? We don't actually have required reading aside from the textbook but our teacher makes recommendations. I love reading memoirs and learning about different cultures so I'm trying to keep track of all she recommends.
We started off with the UK and I actually don't remember what books she recommend for that unit (I do know she mentioned reading Tony Blair's autobiography...). Same thing with Russia. But I wasn't particularly fond of our Russia unit. I do remember some of the China titles but I don't have much of an interest right now. haha. The only reading I really want to do is on Iran. We started off the year with a bit on Iran (that's when I read Lipstick Jihad, SO GOOD) but we don't go in-depth. Now we're going back to Iran and I'm ready to read. My teacher recommended.... (I got these books this week)
Iran Awakening: a Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi
The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work.

Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi – raped, tortured and murdered in Iran – Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system. The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home.

Outspoken, controversial, Shirin Ebadi is one of the most fascinating women today. She rose quickly to become the first female judge in the country; but when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges she was demoted to clerk in the courtroom she had once presided over. She eventually fought her way back as a human rights lawyer, defending women and children in politically charged cases that most lawyers were afraid to represent. She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero.

The following two books my teacher did not recommend. She recommended 5 other books but my ridiculous library didn't have them so I requested them and I will share the titles later. I'm not sure if I'll review them...

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

In a middle-class neighborhood of Iran’s sprawling capital city, 17-year-old Pasha Shahed spends the summer of 1973 on his rooftop with his best friend Ahmed, dreaming about the future and asking burning questions about life. Pasha is also wrestling with a crushing secret: he has fallen in love with his beautiful neighbor, Zari, who has been betrothed since birth to another man. Despite Pasha’s guilt for loving her, the long, hot days transform their tentative friendship into a rich, emotional bond. The bliss of one perfect, stolen summer is abruptly shattered in a single night when Pasha unwittingly guides the Shah’s secret police to their target: Zari’s intended. The violent consequences awaken Pasha and his friends to the reality of life under the rule of a powerful despot, and lead Zari to make a shocking choice from which Pasha may never recover. In poignant, breathtaking prose, Mahbod Seraji’s stunning debut novel lays bare the beauty and brutality infused into the centuries-old Persian culture, while reaffirming the human experiences we all share: laughter, tears, love, helplessness and above all, hope.
-I discovered this book solely because I am a book blogger and saw reviews of it. I love when book blogging and school intersect :) This one I will review. Anyone know if it's YA or adult? I found it in the adult section...

Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution and Leaving Iran by Afschineh Latfi

At the age of ten, a young Iranian girl witnesses the horror of her father's execution and escapes the revolution with her sister.

Growing up in Tehran in the 1970s, Afschineh Latifi and her sister and two brothers enjoyed a life of luxury and privilege. Their father, a self–made man, had worked his way up from nothing to become a colonel in the Shah's army, and their mother, a woman of equally modest roots, had made a career for herself as a respected schoolteacher. But in February, 1979, Colonel Latifi was arrested by members of the newly installed Khomeini regime, and publicly pilloried as an "Enemy of God." Some months later, after having been shunted from one prison cell to another, and without benefit of a legitimate trial, Colonel Latifi was summarily executed.

Fearing for the safety of her children, Mrs. Latifi made a wrenching decision: to send her daughters, ages ten and eleven, to the west, splitting up the family until they could safely reunite. Out on their own, Afschineh and her sister, Afsaneh, were forced to become strong young women before they'd even had a childhood.

Even After All This Time is a story of hope and heartache, a story of a family torn apart for six harrowing years, and finally coming together to rebuild in America. In the richly evocative tradition of the bestselling Reading Lolita in Tehran, this is a story of a family that had the courage to dream impossible dreams and to make them come true against impossible odds

-Cover image above. I just found this book while I was searching for Iran Awakening. I'm hoping I can recommend it to my teacher. I decided to read it because the author's father was a supporter of the Shah so it provides a different perspective. It might have a more negative view of the Islamic Revolution as well. It's a sad story because her parents are absolutely aw-worthy and I love the proverb (saying? short story?) the book is named after. I'll most likely review this one.

So what do you think of what I'm reading? What did you read for your Brit Lit class? Anyone else love their Comparative Government class? It makes me feel so knowledgeable because I now understand what the House of Commons does, why Brits so love the monarchy, why China may not be Communist forever and why the Russian people like strong-willed leaders (extremely strong-willed leaders).


  1. If you enjoyed the scandalous tales from The Canterbury Tales, you might like the writing of Marie de France. I had to read her work as well as Chaucer in college (I was an English major). I was never a fan of the Romantic poets either. I hope you like Frankenstein. I thought it was pretty interesting. I've never seen the movies. I still need to read Dracula some day too.

    I haven't read The Rooftops of Tehran but it certainly sounds fantastic. I look forward to hearing what you think. I really liked Persepolis and learned a lot from reading it.

  2. Our Brit Lit classes also read Chaucer and Frankenstein.

    The Iran books sound good, especially Rooftops of Iran, which I have heard mentioned before. I wish we could teach a comparative govt/pol class!

  3. Why do we love the monarchy?;) I mean I don't feel strongly enough to want to overthrow them, but I think Oliver Cromwell had some valid points (can you tell my college lecturer wrote a civil war book?)

    Your Brit Lit class sounds similar to some introductory lit module I took at uni (Frankenstein, Chaucer - love Mary Shelley and the ideas + idea of the book's structure but in practise I found the narrative quite dull). My favourite module that focused entirely on British literature was one we did in college on WWI lit (from the time and written by modern writers) and I remember doing one about poets who had immigrated to Britain at different stages of their lives.

  4. @Christina-This comment brought me good luck because I just learned Persepolis came in today from another library!

    I can't seem to find much on Goodreads about Marie de France. What would you recommend I start with?

    Ditto on needing to read Dracula!

    @Helen-I ADORE my comp govt/poli class. I hope your school is able to teach it one day because it gives students such a global outlook.

    @Jodie-Because tis a lovely tradition ;D I should have said why the British don't mind the monarchy.

    We studied Oliver Cromwell breifly (I used to mix him up with the other Oliver Cromwell who was Chancellor or something during Henry VIII's rule).

    We've started Frankenstein and I admit the narrative isn't really striking. Lots of elegant language though. Stuff that could have been simplified if you ask me.

    The immigrant poets and any WW poets would be a cool course! I'm jealous.

  5. I read Frankenstein in my college lit crit class. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Frankenstein is crazy.

  6. British historical names are well confusing. There is Thomas Cromwell (who is the Henry VII councillor - beheaded, what a suprise because Henry was so non-violent) but there's also Richard Cromwell who was (if I remember rightly) an uncle to Richard III and ursurped the crown by marrying the previous kings wife? Something like that anyway. Also why must we name all out royals the same things, tradition is fine, but a Hiraldo or a Dave would help a history student to distinguish y'know ;)

    When we learnt about Frankenstein what was most concentrated on was that it's narratives within narratives. The most important thing I took away was that Mary Shelley totally wrote the book and anyone who thinks her husband did is so wrong :)


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