I would like my favorite book in 2013 to be Reading Lolita in Tehranby Azar Nafisi. It was an honest story about the oppression of Muslim Women in Iran, and how a group of women met secretly to discuss works of Nabokov and Austen. It was a secret society book club where the girls grew to become women through the powerful words they read. Reading Lolita in Tehran was an eye- opening, heart- softening book. I read about the difficult lives of these women. The story was filled with hope and had so much to offer but despite all this it was not my favorite book of 2013. I kept wanting it to be my favorite because it touched a significant part of me, but it can’t truly be my favorite because I did not enjoy it.
I feel shallow and fickle, but my honest to goodness favorite read this year was The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate. I found it tucked away in the basement of a thrift store in Old Town Alexandria. It was marked down to $1 and then had a 50% off sticker on it. I had previously read two other books by Melissa Senate. I read, The Solomon Sisters Wise Up and See Jane Date and loved these witty chicklits. This was a must have. Noticing my excitement my boyfriend offered to purchase the novel for me. He is such a big spender. When the book was placed on the counter the clerk told us all paperbacks were half off that day; it turned out to be only a quarter. I skipped off with my boyfriend, feeling light and giddy for rescuing this book.
Now you ask, why is it my favorite? Melissa Senate knows how to write real characters. I don’t mean she knows how to make fictional characters come alive, but she knows these true people. The heroine could easily be your best friend, the aunt playing the part is your aunt or nagging grandmother, and she writes these people! They are real, and yet this is fiction. So it is ok to imagine and escape and not get caught up in someone’s memoir. Here it is safe. In this particular story there is a little magic which I am a sucker for, “Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine.” After Holly’s grandmother dies, Holly takes over her cooking business and learns of her grandmother’s fortune telling past. She finds comfort in her grandmother’s recipes and journal and finds love on Blue Crab Island. Each recipe calls for a fervent wish or a memory and the book itself includes cooking recipes. These are ingredients for my favorite book; Love, Magic and Food!
I encourage everyone to read Reading Lolita in Tehran. Doing so will give the reader a better perspective of what life is like in Tehran. It will remind us of the hardships women still face over in Iran at this moment. Then after that reality check, share it with your friends and family and read something comforting such as The Love Goddess’ Cooking School. While doing so, don’t forget how good we have it in the United States. Be sure to appreciate all the freedoms and liberties and books!
After reading Azar Nafisi’s memoir I felt inspired to help the women and girls in Iran. If you would like to help women in Iran suffering from abuse and neglect visit http://www.omid-e-mehr.org/donate.php and make a donation.