✿Ring Around the Prose✿


May 2016

Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi


Brief synopsis (back cover): Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.

Rating: ✈  Travel companion

Long story short: As a professor and a writer Nafisi expounds on what she knows best: trying to make sense of her reality through works of fiction. She juxtaposes literary analysis and narrative to help reshape her life under the Islamic Regime in Iran, to reassemble parts of her identity that had been broken or stripped away because of the religious fanaticism that engulfed the country.

Continue reading “Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi”

New TRLs are up!

I’ve added a handful of new TRLs to my page, so check them out if you’re stuck in a reading rut and don’t know which book to devour next.

New additions include:

  1. Lady Adventurers—women traveling the world and overcoming all sorts of obstacles
  2. Books and travel
  3. South East Asian authors—writers originating from and writing about Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  4. Enchanting—for people who have read Harry Potter a billion times
  5. Books every feminist should read

The lists can be found at the top of my page, under the “Reading Lists” tab. If there’s a book you think should be on one (or more) of those lists, let me know!

Half Price Books is having a storewide sale and you need to help me come up with a game plan

half price

Because if you don’t, I will end up overspending and will likely have to buy more moving boxes. No bueno.

I was thinking I’d make a list of the top ten books I really, really want to read, and then maybe only buy the first five I find, or buy as many as I can until I hit $20. To make things interesting, I’m going to fill up five of the slots with things on my TRL, but I want YOU to help me come up with the other five by telling me the first book you’d try to find at a book sale.

Here’s my list so far (in no particular order):

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  2. Crowfall by Shanta Gokhale
  3. Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan
  4. In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar
  5. The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
  6. ???
  7. ???
  8. ???
  9. ???
  10. ???

P.S. Is anyone else gonna try to make it over to HPB this weekend?


Moving madness

I’m slowly starting to pack up my stuff ahead of my June-end move. I began with the bookshelves since I have the time to make sure I store them well. Each of these boxes contain approximately 20-25 books. I stacked them on their spines so I don’t damage the pages, and left room to fill the remaining space with light stuff. Would love to hear if anyone has apartment moving advice (for book and non-book things)!

Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Brief synopsis: This essay is a modified version of a TEDxEuston talk author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave in December 2012. In it she asserts that sticking to traditional gender roles that no longer contribute to our survival as a species perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about men and women that disadvantage them both in different ways. While Adichie briefly speaks about feminism in general, TEDxEuston is a forum dedicated to inspiring ideas on developing the African continent, so she chooses to focus on her home country of Nigeria. Despite cultural variations, many will recognize similarities in the struggles men and women face in the anecdotes Adichie shares with her audience.

Rating🌴  Island collection

Long story shortWe Should All Be Feminists is an eloquent introduction to a conversation that has been systematically avoided by our society at large. Though the essay is short, Adichie touches on the different facets of feminism and how the movement actually benefits all genders. She dispels the notion that being a feminist is problematic and limiting, and proudly bears the title once given to her by a friend who, in the heat of an argument, accused her of being a feminist in “the same tone with which a person would say, ‘You’re a supporter of terrorism'” (8).

Continue reading “Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

Updates and such

This comic is especially appropriate considering I’ve acquired 13 books so far this month (which is a lot for me).

Continue reading “Updates and such”

Heat & Light is on its way!

I love the idea of a book subscription service, but I always felt overwhelmed by the choices and never really made the jump. Then about a month ago I found a coupon offering a 50% discount on a three-month subscription of Book of the Month. At $23 (including shipping) for three hardcover books, it was a really good deal and a perfect way for me to test the waters.

My May selection is scheduled to arrive in the next couple of weeks, which means I’m about halfway through this experiment. I figure this is a good time to do a few minutes’ worth of reflecting on my book subscription journey so far.

The process: Each month BotM gives you about a week to choose a book from that month’s selection of five books. To help you decide, each novel has a brief summary and review of the book written by other authors, editors, and even celebrities. If you don’t like any of the options, you can opt to skip that month’s box and your membership is extended another month. You can also purchase up to two more books (from the current or past months’ selections) for $9.99 each.

Continue reading Heat & Light is on its way!”

Review: More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Brief synopsis: The second installment of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series follows many of the characters from the first novel as they navigate the alternative lifestyles and underground culture of San Francisco in the 1970s. There’s Mary Ann Singleton, a new transplant from Cleveland, Ohio, who leaves a sheltered life behind; Michael Tolliver, affectionately known as “Mouse”, looking for prince charming;  Mona Ramsey, Mary Ann’s bohemian neighbor; and Anna Madrigal, the motherly landlady of 28 Barbary Lane, the place Mary Ann, Michael, and Mona call home.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I simply adore this series. The characters are a diverse set of people and the way their narratives weave in and out is engaging and keeps the reader on her toes. Chapters switch back and forth between different stories, but each is connected to the overall arch of the novel.

Continue reading “Review: More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin”

Review: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

Brief synopsis (from the back cover)Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. In 1986 she sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: It took me longer than I expected to get through this book, not because it was boring, but because there was just so much to it that needed slow and careful unpacking (see what I did there? Heh).

Gelman writes about her experiences traveling through Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galápagos Islands, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand, and Thailand. I personally enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more starting with her trip to the Galápagos Islands, when the narrative became more fluid as Gelman became more comfortable in her new nomad lifestyle.

I took a lot of notes…

Continue reading “Review: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman”

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