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Reading Lolita in Tehran

A Memoir in Books
Narrated by: Azar Nafisi
Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
4 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2003 Azar Nafisi (P)2016 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A literary critique of Russian lit.

I was hopeful this book would be about the lives of the women in Tehran in the reading group of the author, a literature professor. At first there are a few glimpses of such but the author immediately compares each girl and experience to the books they are reading. Quickly it becomes more about these books and turns into a literary critique. This is especially off-putting when you aren't familiar with these books. You could listen to an entire chapter and only hear a few sentences about the young women. I was super disappointed and super bored. It was the first time in 3 yrs of audible that I couldn't finish it.

49 of 53 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

Have not finish it yet. Expected more of a story about the life and the people reading Lolita and other forbidden books and how they felt about it. Instead the story is all about analyzing Nabokov.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Speed it up

I was so excited to listen to this book. I love books about women in other cultures. I kept seeing this title come up and was sure I’d like it, but I found this book quite slow— both the story and the performance.
I enjoyed the author’s accent and vocal quality, but she tends to say things without emotion. It made listening a little bit frustrating (and occasionally confusing). She doesn’t vary her delivery very much — she was reading in a flat voice and then said, “she said vehemently.” No vehemence. No fervor. It’s bad enough that I think it negatively affected the whole experience. I really wanted to love the book! When I realized I could listen to the book at 1.25x speed, the experience really improved.
Another issue: I don’t necessarily care about every one of the novels they’re reading. If you’re not a MAJOR classic author fan, it has some dull moments. Perhaps if I’d read every novel the author references I would have enjoyed it more? It was interesting to hear people react to the books from their point of view and try to apply their morals to the novel.
The women in the book study group are interesting, but the author doesn’t flesh them out enough for you. She’s too busy ruminating. It’s more navel-gazing than I was really prepared for — she has whole passages where she’s questioning whether or not her memory is really what happened or if she’s tainting it. And while I understand she wanted to work through that... it’s boring. Yes, memory isn’t a stack of DVDs you can sort through and push play on to relive. They’re fluid. You impart your own bias. This is not a history book, and since she fills page after page with her own opinions in almost a dairy-like writing style anyway, what does it really matter? I wanted an interesting story about women living in Tehran, forming community and escaping through books... and it’s there, but it’s muddy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent book

When I started reading this book, I found it only moderately interesting, but as I read on I became more and more engrossed. It captured very well what it is like to live in a totalitarian country like Iran. The depiction of how these young woman lived in such a place was well described. I also enjoyed the author’s take on literature I’ve read and literature I haven’t yet read but am now inspired to read. The narration by the author was excellent. I highly recommend this audio book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • L
  • 08-22-17

Enjoyed this lovely book

Lovely narration by the author. There are a lot of characters and can be a bit hard to follow. Nice use of books as a vehicle for memoir but also much insight into personal lives during a tumultuous political/social era in Iran.
Can see more depth of meaning if I had already read all the books mentioned but author does a good job of introducing the works. Will likely read/listen to again after some time passes and my own life evolves and I read more of the books :)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

amazing

This book is an absolute eye opener. through the analysis of classic literature, Dr. Nafisi paints her life in Tehran living under different restrictive regimes and cultural expectations. beautifully written and a must read

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Nash
  • Provo, UT United States
  • 01-19-18

beautiful stories, choppy timeline

I enjoyed listening to this book, though it was difficult to follow the storyline. Each chapter is at a different point in chronology. Occasionally it's even difficult to tell whether she's referring to the Iranian government or the Iraqi invaders.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A treat for literature people

A wonderful work for literary people! although, "James" is a bit slow. pay attention and enjoy!!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Well written but far too long

This book should have been 2 different books. Way too much detail about things outside of the class. I wish she had focused on the first part that kept to the class and Lolita for this book, then done a separate one for the info on all of their lives and other books.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Hard to listen to for hours

The story is great but I cannot listen to hours of her accent. She enunciated every word making it tiresome to listen to. She however grasped the English language very well, but cannot make it easy to listen to, for me.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful