books

Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

The first time I wrote about Milk & Honey was in the first ever edition of my Wishlist series, which you can read by clicking here. There was much hype surrounding the book, the implications and meanings of the poetry and almost every female within a 30 mile radius had this book in hand. Shortly after writing my wishlist post, I actually went on to buy the book. I’ve had it for a few months now, and read and re-read it I would say over ten times. I have completely fallen in love with Kaur’s prose, but I didn’t want to write a post on the book until I felt completely compelled to: until I understood the meanings and intentions behind her work, and until I felt like I could do the book justice. I think the time has come!

Firstly, I want to comment on the appearance of the book, how beautiful is the cover? I suppose it’s arguable that the book itself doesn’t affect the content: ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ etc, but it just looks so super pretty on my bookshelf. It had a matte black cover which feels so luxurious, and the monochrome colour scheme with a hint of honey-gold is both appropriate and gorgeous. I know it doesn’t affect the skill of Kaur’s words and the effect they have on the reader, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a beautiful, well constructed book.

While on the topic of appearance, I’d also like to comment on the illustrations of the book. They aren’t the epitome of art; they aren’t super detailed, but they are functional, simple, and through this, become skilful and almost beautiful. The way in which the images seem to be hand-drawn almost with a ballpoint pen, makes the words even more relatable to everyday life, makes the pages adaptable to your own personal situations. Much like her words, the images are so simple that they take on their own beauty.

But now for the actual book itself: the ‘poetry.’ I quote the word ‘poetry’ because I’m not sure how far to argue that Kaur’s words do classify in this genre. Of course, the words themselves are not a novel, they do not progress into a storyline of such, but they do not seem to follow a metric, they do not form a conventional form of poetry. I’ve read much critique of Kaur’s work because of this, but isn’t this what makes the book unique, beautiful? The simplicity of her words and the uncomplicated nature of the structure, for me, is what makes the book so special. She is unapologetically brutal, she doesn’t miss a beat, and she talks of her themes with the utmost candour. For this, I have the utmost respect for Rupi Kaur. Anyone who is planning on reading this book should be aware of triggering topics such as sexual abuse and rape, topics of which she is very frank about. Her frankness and openness about such topics, are what make her a bold and incredible writer.

The book is split into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing. It becomes almost a process; a cycle that I’m sure every woman has experienced or will experience at least once in her life. I love every part just as much as each other but I would say that The Healing is my favourite, it’s both empowering and reassuring. Below I have left some of my favourite quotes from each section. I fully recommend purchasing this book and giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

The Hurting

‘A daughter should not have to beg her father for a relationship’ (28)

‘I was made heavy: half blade and half silk, difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow’ (30)

‘the thing about having an alcoholic parent is an alcoholic parent doesn’t exist, simply an alcoholic who could not stay sober long enough to raise their kids’ (39)

‘you tell me quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful, but I was not made with a fire in my belly so I could be put out’ (30)

The Loving

‘I want to be so complete I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire’ (59)

‘You might not have been my first love but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant’ (63)

‘you look like you smell of honey and no pain, let me have a taste of that’ (66)

‘how do you turn a forest fire like me so soft I turn into running water’ (65)

The Breaking

‘don’t mistake salt for sugar: if he wants to be with you he will, it’s that simple’ (85)

‘I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself’ (95)

‘I am a museum full of art but you had your eyes shut’ (100)

‘I had to leave, I was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole’ (107)

‘You cannot leave me and have me too, I cannot exist in two places at once – when you ask if we can still be friends’ (136)

The Healing

‘Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself’ (153)

‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise’ (156)

‘fall in love with your solitude’ (161)

‘your body is a museum of natural disasters, can you grasp how stunning that is?’ (173)

‘the world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that’ (185)

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books

The Magic of Khaled Hosseini

After hearing so much about The Kite Runner, I thought it was finally time to pick up the book and give it a read. I did it on a complete whim, hoping that it’d be a good book, and in the end I was absolutely blown away. It lead to me researching his other books, and hunting them out in any bookstore I ended up passing by. In the end, I finished all three of his most famous novels, and absolutely fell in love. I couldn’t help but write a blog post about it.

‘I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us’
– And The Mountains Echoed

The Kite Runner
My flat mate picked up this book on a complete whim, from an outlet bookstore near our house. We wanted to read something and this seemed like the most appealing book in the English language section: what an understatement. From start to finish, this book was a page turner. I couldn’t put it down, and even when I had put it down for a break, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I cannot relate to the context of the book: Afghanistan, 1963 is where the book begins. The book spans from 1963-2001 and crosses 3 countries: Afghanistan, USA and Pakistan (briefly). Yet somehow, the book made me feel like I’d visited these countries, I felt like I was truly there with the characters. Speaking of which; the character development in this book is unreal. I started the book by taking a disliking to Amir, for his cowardice and for his jealousy of Hassan, but by the end I found myself strangely attached to him. In fact, I formed an attachment to most of the characters, even characters with less of an importance, such as Farid. The book evoked so many emotions in me, I laughed, I cried and most importantly the story stayed with me for weeks after putting the book down.

‘One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.’
A Thousand Splendid Suns

And The Mountains Echoed
I read this after The Kite Runner, and so had some very high expectations, and I was definitely not disappointed. The book is like a cycle, it spans a lifetime – the lives of Abdullah and Pari. The attachment I felt to these characters was unreal, and I felt like I spent the entire book waiting for them to meet again. The book tells the stories of fragments of different characters lives, stand-alone chapters if you like, and with each chapter comes something new. As fast as you become accustomed to the characters, they change with the coming chapter, and each becomes a part of the jigsaw puzzle. Much like The Kite Runner, this book transports you from your settings, whether that be to Afghanistan with Nabi, Paris with Pari or America with Abdullah and his daughter. It truly is a book that you can get lost in. The thing I like about this book, which is too similar to The Kite Runner and seems concurrent in all of Hosseini’s work, is that the characters are not perfect. Much like the shame of Amir in The Kite Runner at having ignored the tragedy that happened to Hassan, in this book Abdullah’s daughter, Pari, expresses her desire to leave her father and spread her wings even though he is ill: she isn’t perfect. But it is these flaws that make the characters so relatable, loveable almost. In all, I fell in love with not only the book but each and every character.

‘For you, a thousand times over’
– The Kite Runner

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Arguably, this is my favourite one. I definitely saved the best one for last, it took me little under 48 hours to finish this book and I absolutely fell in love with it. You can really see Hosseini’s skill and expertise in his writing here, with the way in which he constructs their characters and takes their stories through time. I think I enjoyed this book more than the others, because the two main characters are female. I felt they were more relatable, but at the same time, I learnt so much about gender roles in Afghanistan through these two women, and also much about their culture. I learnt a lot more from this book than the others: there were many historical references, and cultural references too. This was definitely a tearjerker, the book is split into different parts, and at the end of each part I held in suspense, wanting to move onto the next part as soon as possible! This was definitely a page turner, and a book which I quickly grew really attached to.

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