We found 21 Reddit comments about Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Library). Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.
In a rather different vein from a lot of the suggestions I'm seeing here, I want to plug Michael Herr's Dispatches as an incredible piece of Vietnam literature. There's also If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O'Brien.
If you're willing to consider graphic novels, check out Maus, Persepolis, and Laika.
If you're interested at all in vampires and folklore, I recommend Food for the Dead. Really interesting read.
A history-teacher friend of mine recently gave me The Lost City of Z by David Grann. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but it came highly recommended.
By the by, last year I required my students (high school seniors) to select and read a non-fiction book and gave them the following list of suggestions. Columbine was one of the really popular ones, and I had a bunch of kids (and a few teachers) recommending it to me, but, again, I haven't gotten to it yet.
Brief history lesson incoming!
So Iran had a very liberal and open government in the early 20th century. In 1953, however, the U.S. and the U.K. overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister and installed a shah (king) that was favorable to American interests (literally, oil and $$). Then in 1979 there was a revolution and the shah was overthrown and replaced by a theocratic ayatollah (high cleric) who was unfriendly with the Americans.
Up until the Western installation of the shah, Iran was very open and had a great deal of respect for democracy, science, etc. Here are pictures of Tehran in the 1920s-1940s. In the 1960s and '70s, under the shah, it was still quite liberal and becoming very modernized. Pictures here. You'll notice women with their hair uncovered, studying alongside their male counterparts in universities.
The revolution changed all that. The new Iranian government is theocratic and instituted Sharia law. It become far more militarized and radicalized. Pictures here. That said, a very large proportion of the Iranian people continued to be - and still are to this day - open-minded, moderate, and humanist. You can read an interesting graphic novel about the revolution here, or watch the excellent animated movie based on it.
That said, the Iranian government has slowly been opening up, although there are still serious issues with human rights. Pictures here.
Note that the Iranian government is Shia Muslim and is the enemy of a radical form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabists, represented by ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and many powerful factions within Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Although Iran's hands are not clean of the scourge of terrorism themselves (they have sponsored Hezbollah and Hamas), they have been instrumental in fighting against ISIS and other radical Sunni islamic terrorists.
For various reasons, both the United States and Israel have allied with Saudi Arabia and, until recently, Qatar, despite them being strong sponsors of Wahhabist terrorism. This, along with Iran's refusal to trade oil using the U.S. dollar, is the primary reason American foreign policy has labeled the Iranian government an enemy.
I'm still learning myself and have acquired most of what I know in the past year. It's been shocking to me how off my understanding of world events has been considering how religiously I've always followed the news. Whenever something doesn't seem to make sense, that's our cue to start diving in and seeing what we can unearth. As we can see, misunderstandings and ignorance can be fatal.
This is a brilliant idea.
I'm just been trying to remember what books I liked when I was still at school, the ones that I have come up with so far are: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (I know it's a graphic novel but it's really good!), Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, The Wind Singer, by William Nicholson. There are probably many more, but that's all I can think of right now - hope I've helped a bit though!
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi!
"Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq."
Elie Weisel's Night is an astonishing look at the horrors of World War II.
Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running covers mostly the ins and outs, mundane to nontrivial aspects of his writing career.
If you're interested in a graphic novel type of autobiography, there are two that are excellent:
Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Yoshihiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life. The former is Satrapi's account of a young girl growing up in Iran and the latter is Tatsumi's perspective on post-war Japan. Both are very good.
Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks
Politics of Reality, Marilyn Frye
Feminist Theory, From Margin to Center, bell hooks
Ain't I a Woman, bell hooks
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
Borderlands/La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldua
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Fridan
Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
Gender Trouble, Judith Butler
Capitalism, a Ghost Story, Arundhati Roy
Sex and Social Justice, Martha Nussbaum
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
The New Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein
Whipping Girl by Julia Serrano
edit: Taking on the Big Boys by Ellen Bravo, too, though not publically available that I can find.
Kudos on another great writeup, /u/kuroiniji. I've grown to really enjoy seeing posts with your username on my feed, it means I'm about to read something juicy and well-sourced.
I have nothing to add other than a recommendation to all who haven't read or seen Persepolis: GET ON WITH IT.
Edit: Those who have read Persepolis understand my second point, but to those who haven't, it's an autobiography of a girl growing up in Iran during their Islamic revolution, and in parts of it she deals with groups of women enforcing Islamic conduct in girls.
The Abhorsen Trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen) by Garth Nix! It's a fantasy with teenaged girls (Sabriel and Lirael) as the protagonists (and their adorable and bizarre and not-what-they-seem cat and dog, respectively, companions). I loved, loved, loved these books when I was in middle school.
For graphic novels, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Guy Delisle's travelogues (Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and others) are great introductions to unfamiliar countries and cultures. And they are non-fiction!
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman) [also: The Graveyard Book, Stardust, and Odd and the Frost Giants, as well as anything else age-appropriate written by Gaiman]
Dracula (Bram Stoker) [...I loved it when I read it in middle school!]
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
This is a graphic novel, but Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return deals heavily with this issue. Persepolis should be required reading, of course. In the same vein, stories from the same author's book, Embroideries, should also meet your criteria.
Though I fear it may not be what you're looking for, Persepolis is a great book/comic on the struggles of a young woman growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. Really helped to give me a better understanding of what life is like there. Hope it helps!
EDIT: Had some issues with linking the Wiki. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persepolis_(comics)
I know almost nothing about this, but I have some broad book recommendations in the vein of "read some non-fiction!"
Main thing to keep in mind as you read is that Arab ≠ Muslim ≠ Persian or any combination thereof. Differences between Sunni, Shia, Sufi, etc. Also, urban ≠ rural. And boring, everyday life doesn't readily lend itself to a narrative form.
Not a dumb question at all. In my opinion, it's best to think of Graphic Novels as a completely separate medium from books. So you can have fiction and non-fiction books, the same way you can have fiction and non-fiction movies (documentaries), the same way you can have fiction and non-fiction Graphic Novels.
Most non-fiction graphic novels are either memoirs like Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant and Persepolis, or biographies like My Friend Dahmer. There is old historical stuff like Gettysburg, and even graphic novels about The History of Hip Hop.
It's definitely a niche genre within a niche medium, but it has its audience!
One way to feel slightly more powerful is to arm yourself with knowledge that you can share with others. This week women activists in Iran were sentenced to 15 years or more in jail for removing their hijabs in public. I was able to answer comments on this post because I pay attention. I told you about it, now you know. Now you can tell others. That's why paying attention to what is going on in the world is so important. Two books you can check out are Persepolis and Reading Lolita in Tehran.
I have a whole list of reading material, but two slightly older books that are still applicable today to the plight of women around the world are Half the Sky and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography Infidel.
Knowledge is power. Even if you can't directly change the lives of those who are suffering, learning about it and making people aware keeps the victims from becoming invisible. Plus, you never know when dominoes might start to fall.
Dune by Frank Herbert.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. You have probably read it, but if you haven't, it's superbly funny sci-fi comedy.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. A book that I re-read once every few years, and every time I find something new in it.
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. A gripping, heartbreaking non-fiction book about police detectives. It inspired the acclaimed TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street." Simon would go on to create "The Wire."
The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy. Noir-ish procedural crime fiction. If you enjoy "Homicide," you may well like this.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, "a philosophical novel about two men, two women, a dog and their lives in the Prague Spring of the Czechoslovak Communist period in 1968," according to Wikipedia. One of my favorite books.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Detective novel meets sci-fi in one mind-bending existential work. If you watch "Fringe," well, this book is Fringe-y... and more.
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Time travel. Victorian England. A tea cozy mystery of sorts.
Graphic novels! Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman. Love And Rockets by The Hernandez brothers. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. Elektra: Assassin by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz. And of course, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. To discover yet more great comic books, check out the Comics College series.
Is it "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Novels)",
Maus, Fax from Sarajevo, Persepolis, A Contract with God: And Other Tenement Stories.
Ever read Persepolis the comic? It's a true life story about a girl in Iran, and there was a huge Western influence in the region even as the Shah took over and went full on oppression mode.
This makes me want to reread Persepolis
This could be a very long list ... Will try to reign it in to some of my favourites. Most are popular enough that they won’t need explaining.
Springtime In Chernobyl
The Handmaid’s Tale: A Graphic Novel
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
To Kill A Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Classics Graphic Novels)
The Hobbit Graphic Novel
The Kite Runner: A Graphic Novel
A Wrinkle In Time: A Graphic Novel
The Great Successor Kim Jong Un: a Political Cartoon, an Epic Comic of the Dark Kingdom and the Passing of Power to a Third Kim
Any of Guy Delisle’s travelogues