The Book as Object: Milk and Honey

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. Photo credit: self photographed

            I’ve never thought to analyze a book as an object but when I view it in that way it means so much more. We as readers might not understand just how much creative thought goes into creating a physical book; it’s a form of art that isn’t always seen as such. When I view my poetry book as an object, I find myself being much more careful with it, holding it and opening it with care. Reading a book is usually about the words but we don’t often think about holding a book as an experience. Milk and honey by Rupi Kaur is the first poetry book to ever catch my eye, I’m not a big fan of poetry although I’m starting to take interest in it more.

There is something so enticing about black and white books; I find it hard to find them but when I do, I get excited. The cover screams read me, the title so vague yet interesting; little bees float on the cover waiting for a reader to open and enjoy. I find it interesting that her name is much smaller than the title/imagery, as if her words are so much more important than her name. The cover as well as the inside pages are smooth to the touch and feel nice under my fingertips. Like the cover, the pages are all black and white, separated by inverted pages that suggest what the section will contain. Although her font appears to be Times New Roman which is a basic font, it fits with her words and expresses them well. Hand drawn illustrations occupy half of the pages, adding a visual element to tie her poem together. This book is fairly small with a skinny spine and I think it’s misleading in that way; you expect this book to be just another poetry book on the shelf but it’s a small package with a huge impact.

Kaur’s words are some of the best amongst modern day poets. She has decided to share her personal experiences with the world, but I also feel that it’s meant to be read in a private manner. The codex remains shut and must be held open in order to read the pages. Milk and honey feels very sacred when I value it as something other than just words that resonate with me. The quote that I loved the most wasn’t directly from the reading rather a quote from someone else that was provided in the book: “What is a book? A book is an experience. … A book starts with an idea. And ends with a reader.” (Chen and Meador). I think this quote is perfect in describing what a book is; whether it be a book of poetry or a novel, books in general are powerful experiences for readers who love to immerse themselves into different world and frames of mind.

Works Cited:

“The Book as Object.” The Book, by Amaranth Borsuk, The MIT Press, 2018.

Meador, Clifton, and Julie Chen. How Books Work. Flying Fish Press, 2010.

2 thoughts on “The Book as Object: Milk and Honey”

  1. I agree that black and white books are very interesting! It’s as if they know they don’t need extra color to grab attention or make the content attractive because it will do that on its own if only people will give it a chance. It’s a bold statement for something so deceptively simple and it’s immensely effective.


  2. I also find black and white books very interesting and I have grown to like a more simplistic design. The one book I always think of is The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein, because even though it was one of my favorite books that my mother read to me at night, the cover was unlike most of the other children’s books. Each stroke made the difference on the cover and on the inside of the book. There is also a sense of wonder and imagination associated with the simplistic design.


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