June Reads

Why hello there. Get ready to hear about what I read this June. Or don't, that is fine too.

Books 22 and 23/52: Persepolis 1 and 2 by Marjane Satrapi

Is it cheating that instead of reading the Complete Persepolis I read both separate versions and counted them as two books? I say no! I will call it being resourceful and practical. Also to note, the copy of the Complete Persepolis was checked out at the library.

Persepolis is a graphic novel and memoir written about the author's (Marjane Satrapi) experiences growing up in Iran during the time of the Islamic Revolution. A child of Marxist revolutionaries, Satrapi's family was in danger before, during, and after the revolution. As a young child she even participated in the Black Friday protest, not knowing it would be one of the most violent protests during the revolution. Satrapi is able to weave in the lightheartedness of childhood and adolescence into a dark tale of oppression, censorship, and physical danger. This was my first graphic novel and I heavily enjoyed it; I hope to read more in the future.

I highly suggest these two books, particularly to westerners who know very little about Iran and perhaps only know snippets of Iranian history from white-washed Hollywood movies (*cough* Argo and 300). I actually watched Argo again after reading Persepolis and I definitely saw the story differently after learning more about Iran's history with the U.S. and Britain. I found it infuriating how demonizing Argo made out Iranian people to be. This is why I will always advocate that we read diverse books and stay aware of the white-washing of other cultures.  

Watch this video and this video for some history on the revolution in Iran. I also checked out Iran: A Very Short Introduction to learn more historical context (and yes, this book is written by an Iranian). 

Book 24/52: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

A classic; a beautiful, heartbreaking classic. Their Eyes Were Watching God was one of the first novels written and published by a black woman with a black heroine as the main character. Their Eyes Were Watching God centralizes the experience of a black woman seeking freedom in the south during the Jim Crow era. Janie, the novel's heroine, not only seeks independence as a women, but also a just form interdependence with a man. Janie refuses to settle for "a soul-crushing love" and learns quickly that "marriage does not make love." 

This novel is a beautiful depiction of a women seeking her own truth; ahead of its time in more ways than one. I am anxious to read more of Zora Neale Hurston and perhaps Alice Walker's 1975 essay "Looking for Zora."

Book 25/52: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

This is my second book by Rebecca Solnit. I read Men Explain Things to Me last year and it was such an important and short read; give it a try if you can.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is hard for me to sum up in words so I am going to cheat and take a quote from the LA Times. "An intriguing amalgam of personal memoir, philosophical speculation, natural lore, cultural history, and art criticism." Solnit explores the concept of "getting lost" and how the lost spaces of personal lives and our world speak volumes. It was a beautiful read! Here are two of my favorite quotes:

"Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown."

"Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession... Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before... It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss."

So that was June! More books to come :) 

What have you all been reading lately?