We’re now in Iran in our Around the World in 80 Days imaginary trip. Once I finished reading about Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s travels, I realized that we are 55 days into our trip, and we better get a move on. I proceeded straight to the Iranian restaurant Shiraz on Centre Street and ordered a takeout feast. In particular, I must recommend the delicious taste of the Persian stews. The chicken is cooked in a ground walnut and pomegranate paste, and well worth fighting with your family over the leftovers.
Once I worked as a cataloguer, bringing order to the library collections in order that everyone might discover useful information. I put Dewey Decimal numbers on books so they clustered together in thematic areas, and kept track of all the names of classical music pieces in different languages. When we were the first library to order a book, I added subject headings. Now when I start to explore a new country, the first thing I do is a search in the library catalogue to find reading possibilities using those subjects.
Search 1- Iran description and travel produces Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey by Alison Wearing. Alison pretends to be married to a friend so that she can travel in Iran in the late 1990's. Fifty pages started, and the observant narrator has drawn me in with her revealing anecdotes. Reading about the 3 day bus ride from Istanbul, I am immediately grateful that my trip only involves plunking down on the couch.
The library also owns Calgary writer’s Marcello di Cintio’s Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey into the Heart of Iran, a travel description from a male perspective.
Search 2- Iran fiction produces Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the revolution. It is moving, and thoughtful, and reminds me of the stories of a smart teenage girl trying to understand her situation from Lynda Barry. There is also a movie of this novel.
Search 3- Iran pictorial works. That’s a mouthful- “pictorial works”- but it produces the thick coffee table books full of photographs that I love. No little photos on Flickr for me- I want to heft up a big tome that presses into my lap. The one I picked was Inside Iran by Mark Edward Harris. I enjoyed the photographs of everyday life.
Search 4- Iran juvenile. This gives me the kids’ books about Iran, so I can take home something to share with my son. I is for Iran is by Shirin and Kamyar Adl. We learn interesting facts like that men are not supposed to wear gold jewelry, that you can ski in the mountains, and that the Grand Bazaar in Tehran is the biggest in the world.
Here are some other searches that may be useful to you in planning a trip:
[Country] + music = folk and contemporary pop music which we order from all around the world
[Country] + dvd = dvds are also purchased from many countries, and you can check in the catalogue which ones have English language tracks or subtitles. An even broader search is [Language] + dvd because many of the DVDs we purchase have multiple language tracks
[Country] + guidebooks= a list of all the guidebooks. For the armchair traveler, books published by Dorling Kindersley and National Geographic have colour photos included.
[Language] + language = language learning materials, often CDs with accompanying phrase books. Calgary Public Library also has a language learning database called Mango which you can find in the E-library.
Of course there are other ways to limit your search, such as the handy faceted searching boxes to click on the left. Type in a country that you’re interested in, just to see what surprises come up. Whether you’re travelling to the country in body or imagination, there’s lots to find. I’m going to rejoin Alison Wearing on the road to Tehran.