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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Persepolis is a City, I Found Out

There's a list that goes around on the world wide web section of the internet that I always fall for and every time it infuriates me. It says "The BBC Believes you Only Read 6 of These Books..." and you go to the site and click the boxes and it tells you how well-read you are. I'm a sucker for it every time, even though from the outset the title is, let's say, grammatically problematic.

Let's first get this out of the way, the BBC said no such thing. They did publish a list called "BBCs Big Read" in 2002 that asked voters to pick their favorites. That list has some similarities to the Facebook meme list, but has been altered quite a bit in favor of books that have been made into movies, apparently because to Americans, a book has not been validated until the trilogy has been made into 4 movies. Also, the BBC list had four Terry Pratchett books on it and honestly, if four of the top 100 books of all time were written by Terry Pratchett (rest his soul) I'm done with reading.

That's just one annoyance. Another one is that it's dumb. The Holy Bible is one book. Harry Potter Series (all) counts as one book, but The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe gives you a whole point on its own. One book in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series is apparently enough "well-read," while I have to slog all the way through Proverbs? In comparison, inspirational pamphlet The Five People You Meet in Heaven gets you full credit.


Let's say I've read "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" (Goodreads review: "Two stars. Couldn't relate to the characters. What shoes were they wearing?"). Nice job, you get one point. Oh but you get two points because Hamlet is on there, too.

Finally, The Davinci Code is fine if you like prose like this:
Captain Bezu Fache carried himself like an angry ox, with his wide shoulders thrown back and his chin tucked hard into his chest. His dark hair was slicked back with oil, accentuating an arrow-like widow's peak that divided his jutting brow and preceded him like the prow of a battleship. As he advanced, his dark eyes seemed to scorch the earth before him, radiating a fiery clarity that forecast his reputation for unblinking severity in all matters.
He's like an ox that throws back its shoulders and tucks its chin in his chest (you know, like oxen do). He's also like a battleship. There is just no way, though, that he is the pine-scented air.

What's weird is that the list seems to change based on what site it's on or when you took it. For example, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi was on the last list I took, but now that I'm writing the blog post about the dumb list and using it as my intro, I can't find it on there anymore.

If there is any better reason to dismiss this list and never, ever use it as a way to define if you're reading the best books, it's that. Persepolis should be read by everyone.

You know it's good, because public schools are trying to ban it. Apparently the true story of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 is too much reality for kids learning that all Muslims, regardless of background, are the same and evil. It might be too shocking to know that Iran was at one point a very forward looking and free place, but religious leaders slowly eroded their rights. Or, and this is maybe the most dangerous thing, they might learn that young kids in Iran or Iraq or Syria are in many ways just like them.

When you read about young Marjane and the world she's growing up in, you root for her to get out of there. Especially with a knowledge of how bad it's going to get. Get out of there, Marjane. Anything is better than this. But not those Syrian refugees. Oh dear me, no, where will we put them? WHAT IF THEY COME TO OUR SCHOOLS AND BUILD CLOCKS.

Here's a hilarious thing men always say when learning about domestic abuse: "Why doesn't she just leave?" Well let's say you're in an abusive relationship with your country. Why don't you leave? What if you're in this situation?
In the first six months of 2012 there were more than 130 killings of women in the state of X. In 2009 alone, public prosecutor's office round the country received 14,829 reports of rape – an alarming number considering that most women do not report these crimes. Only 2,795 convictions were achieved in the courts, illustrating that most cases are not effectively investigated and insufficient measures are taken to protect the survivors. (Source)
X in this case is Chihuahua. Would you break a law to get out of there? I would. Would you do anything you could to ensure that your little baby is born somewhere else?

Persepolis is an important book. I read it all in one night which isn't really bragging because it's a graphic novel. But the next day we went to the local art museum and saw the art of Fahimeh Amiri. She lived in Tehran at the same time, and explores the transition through art. I don't know, it was a cool coincidence and made the current state of Syrian refugees really hit home.
Listen. I don't like to preach, but here's some advice. You'll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it's because they're stupid. Don't react to their cruelty. There's nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself.