Since as long as I could remember, I have been a bibliophile. I would love (and still love) to be surrounded by beautifully bound books, spending lots of time in libraries, and skimming through the collections of family and friends. I am quite old school in the sense that I do love to purchase physical books, a pastime of mine since college. As of late, I make time to wander about in local bookstores to find new and old works from my favorite authors and friends. On a recent jaunt to the McNally Jackson bookstore at the top of the year in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, I found myself searching specifically for a friend’s book, as well as a few more titles to tickle my fancy. My budget is nowhere near endless, so along with the title I was there for specifically, I wanted to keep my spend under $40 if possible. I walked each bookshelf looking for something that would speak to me, and as I got closer to checkout, I decided to pick up Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I had heard great things about the book of poetry, and with a 20% off ticket on the cover, I was sold.
I was super happy with my purchases, including a beautifully illustrated wall calendar and daily planner, and was pumped to dig into the book. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I kind of psych myself up to read new books, but often delay. Perhaps it is my anxiety, but for some reason with books, I know I will be moved to read them at just the right time. Fast forward a few months, and I am preparing for my first solo trip to Belize. My intent for the trip (aside from nabbing a super-cheap flight) was to learn more about the stories of my family, specifically the women, and reach out to certain members of the community for work-related articles. I have flown to Belize solo in the past, but never travelled completely on my own as trips prior were with my parents or entire immediate family. I decided to bring Milk and Honey in tow as I knew I would have a bit more downtime to just read and be.
A few days into my week stay, I opened the book before heading to sleep. I lay there in the bed of my late great-grandmother, reading the words of a woman that felt like they were my own. Was Rupi speaking to me personally? Because that is how it felt. Broken into four chapters, the book of poetry unearths many topics and experiences within womanhood on the road to healing, including trauma, loss, self-love, and romantic love. As I am currently in the healing chapter of my life, the words and illustrations on each page enveloped me, speaking to my very being with each second that my eyes quickly read each line by line. Although literary scholars may not categorize this book as poetry given structure and prose formation, it is by far one of the most emotive works I have read to date. I found myself in bed, sitting on the porch, or on the plane back home pausing after certain pieces just to breathe and say ‘My goodness, that was so good!’
There are entirely too many quotes that hit me in the heart and gut, but here is one that felt so real to me:
i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to fill so complete
i could light a whole city
i want to have you
cause the two of
it on fire
For the women that want to engage in a book of mini-tales of the ups and downs of womanhood, for people that absorb beautiful words like water to the roots of a plant, for everyone that needs a well-versed true story to feel more alive, to you, I recommend this book.