24 Book Recommendations from the Guests of Book Dreams
An End-of-Year Holiday Extravaganza
Welcome to our 2022 end-of-year holiday extravaganza! In the spirit of holiday giving, we have a present for you, which, if we’re being honest, is also a present for us: BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Two dozen of them, in fact!
At the end of almost all the interviews we conducted this year, we asked our guests, “What’s one book you love and why do you love it?” We held back the recordings of their answers so we could share them with you now, with our gratitude for another year of book dreaming.
From the episode:
Eve Yohalem: You probably know Iranian writer Azar Nafisi from her first book, Reading Lolita in Tehran. We talked to her about the growing threat of authoritarianism and her newest book, Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times.
When you hear Azar tell the story of 1,001 Nights, one of the most famous Middle Eastern folk tales of all time, you’ll understand why reading literature can be a powerful form of resistance.
Azar Nafisi: As you know the story, there is a king, who actually the citizens love, but his queen betrays him with a slave. And the king is so disenchanted and so disillusioned that he kills the queen and her lover. And from then on, every night as a revenge, he marries a virgin and kills her in the morning as the cock crows. Scheherazade is the daughter of the vizier, sort of the prime minister. She’s wise. And she tells her father, “Let me handle the king.” She marries him. And on the night of her wedding, she tells the king, “I have a sister, and every night I tell her a story. Could I tell her story?” And the king agrees to it. As the cock crows, Scheherazade leaves the story unfinished. The king wants to hear what happens next so he doesn’t kill her.
This goes on for 1,001 nights. And by the end of 1,001 nights, he’s cured, because she gives him the ability to become curious, to come out of himself and want to know others. Through wanting to know others, she bestows on him the gift of empathy, where rather than killing the queen, he should try to understand the queen. So I like Scheherazade because it brings to us the importance of these two important traits: curiosity and empathy.
Book Dreams uses books to explore topics we can’t stop thinking about. Hosted by Julie Sternberg and Eve Yohalem, Book Dreams releases new episodes every Thursday. Visit our website for more about the show, find us on Twitter (@bookdreamspod) and Instagram (@bookdreamspodcast), or email us at email@example.com.