The Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2012

heart-bookHi everyone!  I thought that since you all have heard so much about my own personal goals and favorite reads of 2012, it was about time that you heard from the rest of the staff.  I’ve asked them to send me their top reads of 2012, and I’ve posted them below.  I think it’s interesting to see what different readers choose as their favorites, and it’s always a great springboard for opening a discussion too!  So, without further adieu, here’s the Reflections of a Book Addict staff favorites of 2012!

Todd:

  1. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  3. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  4. A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  5. H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius
  6. Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
  7. The Sounding by Carrie Salo

Adam:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  3. Pantheons by E.J. Dabel
  4. Albino by E.J. Dabel
  5. Deal With the Devil by J. Gunnar Grey

Christine:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Issues 1-6 of Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. The Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
  5. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  6. Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Jess:

  1. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
  2. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  3. Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton

What do you think?  Leave us a comment below!

Read-A-Thon Hour 7, Mini Challenge #6

Hour seven is here! Todd, Adam, Jess, and myself all decided to switch what books we were reading to “freshen up”.  I’m now reading a graphic novel version of The Canterbury Tales, Todd’s moved on to A Million Suns by Beth Revis, Adam’s reading  Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi, and Jess is reading Carole King’s memoir A Natural Woman.

My adorable kitten Sebastian has also picked out a novel to begin reading - When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. Isn’t that picture adorable?!?

The mini challenge this hour is being hosted by The Hungry Readers.  They ask that you take words and phrases from the book you’re currently reading and compose a poem with them.  The four of us (and Sebastian!) have tried to come up with a poem based on what we’re reading but have utterly failed.  Instead Adam wrote a poem that he would like me to share with the rest of you.  Without further ado:

Challenge six and this group don’t really mix
We have our noses stuck in our books
So well wait for challenge seven and load up our nooks

That’s it for now.  See you in the next hour!

#35 A Review of Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

My senior year in college I was introduced to a graphic novel memoir by Art Spiegelman entitled Maus.  Spiegelman re-told his father’s Holocaust experience in a way that a) indebted me to graphic novels forever and b) made me search out other memoirs told in this unusual format.  That search produced another graphic novel entitled Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  Satrapi told of her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  I was enamored by her stories and the way her drawings helped illustrate the feelings she had about herself and those around her.  Since reading Persepolis I’ve been introduced to some of her illustrated novellas, Embroideries being one of them.

When one first thinks of the conservative Islamic regime one does not associate it with any type of sexual openness.  Therefore, Satrapi’s Embroideries becomes that much more eye-opening when one discovers that it covers just that: the sex lives of a few Iranian women.  Told from the point of view of an informal get together that includes Satrapi’s grandmother, mother, aunt, and a few neighbors and friends, Embroideries touches on major problems and observations that are common to all of these women.  Ranging from how to seduce a man to how to escape an arranged marriage, Satrapi’s relatives and friends share their stories and insights from a unique and deeply personal point of view.

Persepolis was my first literary introduction to Iranian culture.  In Persepolis we see a culture where women were treated in a vastly different manner than men.  We’re not introduced to a liberal culture where women go to bars on Friday nights and pick up men in the vein of Sex and the City.  Knowing all this, the synopsis for  Embroideries intrigued me greatly in the basis that it afforded me an opportunity to see the female Iranian culture behind closed doors.  I was not expecting to read such liberal discussions of their sex lives.  I was absolutely fascinated with their gossipy personalities and how comfortable they felt at poking fun at the men in their lives.  I have to say that it actually made me happy in part to know that women the world over (no matter how repressive of a country they live in) still found time to be normal women.  I sometimes feel guilty about being an American woman.  I have the freedom to be what I want to be, say what I want to say, and love who I want to love.  After reading this graphic novel it gives me hope for those that don’t enjoy the public freedoms that I do.  Knowing that they can be who they want to be behind closed doors with like-minded women increases my hope for a world where women are respected as equally as men are.  In all, Satrapi’s work is a refreshing and intriguing read that will leave you thinking about your own views on the female side of Iranian culture.  I highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 Stars

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
Knopf Doubleday Publishing (2005)
Hardcover: 144 pages
ISBN:  9780375423055

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of Persepolis

Last month fellow Reflections of a Book Addict staff member Adam wrote a review for the graphic novel Persepolis.  After reading his review it made me want to go back and re-watch the film adaptation.  Made in 2007, the French animated film was written by Marjane Satrapi and directed by Satrapi with Vincent Paronnaud.  The film has been nominated for many awards, and won the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  It was also nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, but lost to Ratatouille (which is a much superior film).

Persepolis is the autobiographic tale of Satrapi, a young outspoken girl coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.  Marjane’s parents however send her elsewhere in Europe when Iran becomes too dangerous for her.  We follow Marjane as she reflects back on her life, through some of her most awkward and trying times.

The thing that really caught my eye about this film was its cinematic style.  The scenes from Marjane’s past are shown in black and white, which is the same way the illustrations were presented in the graphic novel.  The fact that the present day scenes are shown in color is a perfect transition for the tone of the storytelling.  The style of the animation as a whole is something that I have never seen before, and really sealed the deal for me in terms of originality.  As a huge animation fan (I am one big kid at the end of the day), it’s nice to see a mature uplifting story told in this art form.  Don’t let the fact that it’s an animated film fool you, this is no kid’s movie.  It was critically acclaimed as one of the best films of 2007, which should be reason enough for you to see it.  The story is also told in different languages throughout, adding to the uniqueness of the film.

I will leave you with this; I highly suggest you check this film out if you are into “FILM”.  Even though this is a great film which has been around for quite some time now, there is a reason you may have not heard of it; it’s a foreign film.  While I love foreign films, I understand that many dislike them, especially when presented in multiple languages.  With that being said, it’s a film not for the average moviegoer.  On the flip side,  the film allows you to soak in a beautiful animation style, if that is your thing.  All in all, Persepolis is an amazing film for those willing to give it a try.

Average Moviegoer: 3 out of 5 Stars

Film Enthusiast: 5 out of 5 Stars

Persepolis (2007)
2.4.7 Films
PG-13, 96 Minutes

Adam’s Review of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Cover Image

From my film reviews, you can probably tell that I love visual aids to help tell a story.  As juvenile as it sounds, I love books that have pictures which describe the action.  When Kim asked me to begin reviewing graphic novels, I figured I’d be killing two birds with one stone;  I’d be reading and increasing my knowledge, while learning more about history and other subjects.  For my first review I went with a graphic novel that spoke about a period in history which I knew little about, the Iranian Revolution.  The novel is Persepolis: the autobiography of Marjane Satrapi, a woman who was born and raised in Iran during the time of the Iranian Revolution and the subsequent war between Iran and neighboring Iraq.  Through trials and tribulation that she was forced to endure, Satrapi is able to tell a story that is funny, heartbreaking, and historically filled with facts.

Young Marjane begins her story with how her life started in Iran. She always felt that she was special, that someday she would be the next prophet sent from God to make a change.  As a young girl, she was always rebellious and curious by nature.  Due to the Shah being overthrown in 1979, ten-year old Marjane is forced to grow up much more quickly than kids in America might have because of her exposure to rebellion.  The government that was put in place of the Shah was even stricter than what was present before, making life in Iran unbearable.  Women were forced to wear veils over their heads and schools were segregated by gender, a practice which young Marjane did not believe in nor understand.  Whilst in the middle of an eight year war with Iraq, Marjane is given the opportunity to leave the country by herself and go live in Europe safely.  Upon leaving Iran, she realizes that the world outside is very different, and finds herself sticking out like a sore thumb, unused to the European culture.  The second portion of the novel chronicles her adventures in Europe and her eventual return to Iran after four years.

While this novel was a roller coaster of emotions and the overall tone was very serious and deep, there was a lot of heart to it as well.  At the heart of this novel is a coming of age story, something very traditional in a literary sense but different in its execution. With the use of pictures (as it’s a graphic novel), the reader gets to not only see the changes of Marjane physically, but also mentally.   As the character transitions through different phases in life, the pictures change as well.  I am not sure if this was done intentionally, but as she experiences more and grows up, she is drawn more adult-like and less kid-like.  The drawings in the beginning reminded me of how a little kid might imagine him or herself as a super hero, floating in the clouds and making a difference, but the pictures as she witnesses and learns more about the world were really gritty and very realistic of her experiences.  
    
Mistakenly I viewed the novel as two separate portions rather than one long novel, but despite this the novel still flowed really well. The different phases in Marjane’s life flowed right into each other and every story she told built upon the last one.  She covers a lot of topics in the novel, from war and destruction to first love and losing her virginity; writing in a way that made all of the topics very accessible.  Satrapi was able to describe her story in a fascinating way and made the reader want to know how her journey was going to end.  She made the reader feel that rather than reading all this information, he or she is listening to someone tell the story.
    
I really enjoyed Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographic tale of how she grew up and the trials and tribulation she experienced in both Iran and Europe.  She was able to pull the me in from the very beginning and kept my attention to the very end.  I was so captivated by her storytelling that I couldn’t put the novel down!  I really found myself appreciating what I have, and how lucky I am to be able to live in a country where I can express myself.

5 out of 5 Stars

 
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Knopf Doubleday Publishing (2007)
Paperback 352 pages