Books with chador-clad girls on the cover sell well. Add to that a title like 'Reading Lolita in Tehran', which of course must be forbidden in Iran, you've got a surefire hit on your hands.
In fact, the cover of the book, two chador-clad girls bent over, reading something (a newspaper, incidentally), is highly suggestive, for its connotations.
For exactly these reasons, I was reluctant to pick this one up, though when I was looking for something to read in San Francisco, nothing else caught my eye.
Thankfuly, the book is good. Though the title is a bit misleading. The book is much more a memoir of the author's life in Tehran, during the 80s and 90s. An English literature professor, Nafisi uses a series of literature classics as parabels and parallels for her life, her students' life and life in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As a result, the book's very personal, like an autobiography is, and that's what makes the book good. The setting, Iran, is almost incidental, though giving the book the twist which makes it more than just an another memoir.
The book did receive some criticism (see Wikipedia), and rightly so. As a lesser informed reader, it's too easy to stereotype Iranian society based on Nafisi's erudite retelling of her experiences. She writes accessibly, though it helps if you're familiar with the books she discusses, and clearly understanding both Iranian and western culture, she must be right in her observations, potentially implicitly creating a justification for Iran's vilification in the west.
Good quote from the book: "You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you';; never this way ever again."
Sadly, her blog hasn't been updated for almost a year.