Tuesday, July 28

literary junkies!

Pink Heels Pink Truck

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it. 

Despite having several Iranian-American friends in high school and college, I knew basically nothing about the Islamic Revolution until reading Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in college. When I spotted Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi at a secondhand book sale, I recognized it from lots of recommended title lists. It's a memoir written by a literature teacher who attended college in America and returned to her home in Iran just as the revolution was beginning. After she took her first teaching job at the University of Tehran, Iran's laws became increasingly restrictive and eventually abusive toward women, and she was eventually forced to resign for refusing to wear a veil in the classroom. After the war with Iraq, an acquaintance convinces her to return to teaching, which she has missed terribly, although her more conservative students frequently challenge her choice of "decadent" novels like The Great Gatsby and Daisy Miller. She and a few of her most passionate female students decide to start their own book club, meeting on Thursday morning to discuss everything from Lolita to Pride and Prejudice, and along the way her "girls" become like daughters to her. The book really forced me to think about how dangerous fundamentalism can be when the lines of church and state are blurred and corrupted, and about how our perceptions of literature are shaped by our own backgrounds and experiences. I've added Professor Nafisi's syllabus to my TBR pile.

2. What book reminds you of summertime as a kid?

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis - I finished my first reading of the Narnia books in the back of my parents' car while being taken to summer camp. When I got to the book's ending and realized, in a way my 11-year-old brain really couldn't put into words, that the whole series had been an allegory for God's kingdom, I started crying. My parents thought I was upset about going to camp and were ready to turn the car around until I explained as best I could that I was crying because my book made me so happy. They probably talked about what a weird kid they had after that.

3. What book did you have on your summer reading list that truly nailed it as a summer reading favorite?

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd - a really creepy novel inspired by H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, but then I remembered how much I loved Rebecca last summer. I'd downloaded it because it was a Kindle deal and had a cool name, and got completely sucked in to the main character's desire to find her father and her inherited obsession with scientific discovery, the isolated island and the two men she feels torn between. For some reason, I guess I need to counterbalance hot, sunny summer days with suspenseful Gothic mysteries?

4. Who is your favorite author and why? Give us your top recommendation by them. 

As an English major and teacher, there is no way I can choose one favorite author, so I'll narrow it down to one genre. My favorite YA author is Maggie Stiefvater - not just because of her books but because she has a great online presence and I got to meet her at a reading conference for teachers! Her Raven Cycle series is really popular right now and has developed a fandom, but my favorite Stiefvater book is the stand-alone The Scorpio Races, in which she takes the myth of the water horse and builds a whole world. It's full of action, romance, and amazing description (I use it as a mentor text in my class!), and has a very timeless quality that I think will make it a YA fantasy classic.

5. Fall Book Reading lists are starting to make their appearances. What are you excited to read that's being released this fall?

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid (August 4th)Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be clich√© high school kids. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.  Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. 

This sounds like such a perfect back-to-school read - I love books about male/female best friendships and how complicated the can be, and the "Never List" is a fun concept.

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (September 1st) A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town. 

I cannot resist a Shakespeare retelling, particularly Romeo and Juliet which is the play that started it all for me. This sounds like a really unique, creative twist on the familiar story.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (September 15th)Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

I love Mindy and I adored Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so I'm sure her second collection of essays will be equally awesome.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (November 10th) - Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, despite the scars that mar her face, and despises her stepmother, Queen Levana. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and find their happily ever afters.

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite recent MG/YA series, so I'm very anxiously looking forward to the conclusion. I hope Meyer can tie up all the lose ends in a way that is satisfying but not too perfect or cheesy.


  1. I enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis as a kid too. Sadly, I never actually finished The Chronicles of Narnia. I may go back and do that one day.

  2. I love Mindy!! Can't wait to read her latest!! And I have Never, Always, Sometimes on my list! Thanks for linking up with us! Hope to see you again tomorrow! :)