The best books about Tehran Iran

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Tehran and why they recommend each book.

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Around the World on a Bicycle - From San Francisco to Tehran

By Thomas Stevens,

Book cover of Around the World on a Bicycle - From San Francisco to Tehran

First published in 1887, Stevens was the first person to circumnavigate the earth on a bicycle, and a high-wheeler at that. Over three years he pedaled, pushed, and dragged his bicycle through all corners of the globe on one of the most epic journeys ever undertaken.

Who am I?

About thirty years ago I learned that my great-grandaunt Annie was, arguably, the first woman to circle the world by bicycle (1894-1895) and I spent years rescuing her story from the trash bin of history, for she was virtually forgotten for more than a century. An avid cyclist myself, Annie became both my muse and my inspiration. She was an outlandish character who stepped far outside the bounds of what was expected for women of her time; among other things, she was the married mother of three young children when she took off from Boston for fifteen months on the road, and she pioneered sports-related marketing for women, securing corporate sponsors and adorning her body and her bicycle with advertisements wherever she traveled.

I wrote...

Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

By Peter Zheutlin,

Book cover of Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

What is my book about?

Who was Annie Londonderry? She captured the popular imagination with her daring 'round the world trip on two wheels. It was, declared The New York World in October of 1895, "the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman."

But beyond the headlines, Londonderry was really Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a young, Jewish mother of three small children, who climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle and pedaled away into history. Reportedly set in motion by a wager between two wealthy Boston merchants, the bet required Annie not only to circle the earth by bicycle in 15 months but to earn $5,000 en route, as well. This was no mere test of a woman's physical endurance and mental fortitude; it was a test of a woman's ability to fend for herself in the world.

City of Lies

By Ramita Navai,

Book cover of City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran

British-Iranian journalist, Ramita Navai shines a spotlight on 21st century Tehran that we rarely see in the mainstream press, delving into the city’s youth culture, illicit entertainment, and seedy underbelly of drugs and despair. City of Lies exposes the reality of how young, modern Iranians really live - constantly evading the authorities to seek out the pleasures they are denied under the regime.

Who am I?

Lois Pryce is a British author who has travelled extensively in Iran. Her book, Revolutionary Ride tells the story of her 2013 solo motorcycle tour of the country and was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford ‘Adventure Book of the Year’ Award. Her travels have taken her to over fifty countries and her writing has featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent.

I wrote...

Revolutionary Ride: On the Road to Shiraz, the Heart of Iran

By Lois Pryce,

Book cover of Revolutionary Ride: On the Road to Shiraz, the Heart of Iran

What is my book about?

Travel writer Lois Pryce sets off alone on a 3,000-mile motorcycle ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. Along the way, she meets carpet sellers and drug addicts, war veterans and housewives, doctors and teachers - people living ordinary lives under the rule of an extraordinarily strict Islamic government.

Reading Lolita in Tehran

By Azar Nafisi,

Book cover of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

This memoir is so important to me that I included a scene of me reading it in my own memoir! To this day, when I find myself doubting the power of writing and literature, I return to this book; reading it is akin to sitting in the world’s most interesting and urgent literature class. Set in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution, this memoir is organized by the banned works of classic Western Literature Professor Nafisi discusses with a clandestine, all-women’s book group. The women in the group come from drastically different religious and socio-economic backgrounds, but through the reading and discussion of these books they are better able to understand one another, and navigate their own chaotic time and place.

Who am I?

I am a reader, writer, and professor specializing in memoir writing. I think every single person has a fascinating life. But, when writing it down, it can be difficult to find a narrative structure that allows the story to feel as unique as the human being writing it. I am drawn to memoirs that have fresh, creative ways of organizing their material—memoirs that go beyond or subvert the conventional, straightforward, chronological approach. After all, our memories are often scattered, fragmented, interrupted, non-linear, or just bizarre; memoirs that capture not only the person’s lived experience but also the messiness of memory itself feel more powerful and true to me. 

I wrote...

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir

By Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman,

Book cover of Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir

What is my book about?

When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

Sounds Like Titanic is a surreal, often hilarious coming-of-age story. Written with precise, candid prose and sharp insight into ambition and gender.

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