The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran by Hooman Majd
Published by Doubleday
Brief publisher’s summary:
With U.S.–Iran relations at a thirty-year low, Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd dared to take his young family on a year-long sojourn in Tehran. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay traces their domestic adventures and closely tracks the political drama of a terrible year for Iran’s government.
I’m always interested in learning more about Iran because I have an uncle who is from there, in fact he came to the US in the late ’70’s for college and ended up staying here, building a career, becoming a citizen, marrying my aunt, etc. However, if I’m being honest, books that are solidly in the history section of nonfiction are sometimes intimidating and oftentimes can bore me. So a book like this, a memoir of a family’s time spent in Iran, with snippets of history peppered throughout, is a perfect balance for me. I learned a LOT about Iranian history, politics, and society in general while also getting to know this courageous and interesting family.
What I most loved about this book is that while Majd was open with the reader and explained much of what was scary and nonsensical about Iranian society and the political structure, much more of his narrative was focused on what he loves about his country of origin. There is so much to love about the Iranians we meet in this book, so much positivity and light and love and it made me so happy to see Majd choose to spend more time on those things than on the negatives. His portrayal of life there and observations of how the country really operates was such a balanced, honest picture of things that it made me immediately close the book and do more research on Iran and the country’s history. I enjoy nonfiction books the most when I learn something while being entertained, and The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay was the perfect mix of both.
Grin and Bear It: How to be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way by Jenni Pulos with Laura Morton
Published by St. Martin’s Press
If you don’t watch the Bravo TV show Flipping Out, you probably have no idea who Jenni Pulos is. But if you DO watch the show, like me, you probably love Jenni Pulos (like me). So honestly, this book is only for that second group (in my opinion, of course).
If you are already a Pulos fan, this is a fun, quick romp through her life experiences, disappointments, drama, and lessons she’s learned along the way. It’s also a tiny peek into the real truth about her relationship with Jeff Lewis (hint: it’s a true friendship). I mostly read the book because I was interested in hearing from her point of view what really happened with her very public breakup from her ex-husband, and I was treated to a play-by-play of the drama in her own words. So that was fun. I felt for her deeply, of course, but it was nice to hear how she’d gotten through that heartache and moved on to bigger and better things.
Other than that, the advice she shares is kind of obvious stuff – at least to me – and the book overall is kind of silly. But I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed it, and I think if you love Jenni Pulos, you will too.