Favourite Lines: ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid

Dear readers,

Isn’t it a beautiful moment when you read the first line of a book and connect with it instantly? I recently started reading Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and within the first line, it somehow found its way onto my list of favourite books.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Exit West is the kind of book I can’t help but read as a writer more than a reader, admiring each carefully constructed sentence. Today I thought I would share with you a couple of my favourite lines, starting with the opening line.

 

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in class and did not speak to her.

– page 1

 

The following evening helicopters filled the sky like birds startled after a gunshot, or by the blow of an axe on the base of their tree.

– page 32

 

One’s relationship to windows now changed in the city.

– page 68

 

…but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.

– page 94

 

If you haven’t read Exit West, I strongly urge you to go pick up a copy! What are you reading at the moment? Please let me know in the comments below–I’m always looking for suggestions.

As always, thank you for being here.

Yours,

Tamara Drazic

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What I Read in 2015

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I recently got back from a trip to Hawaii and am staying with my parents back in Cairns over the Christmas break. Seeing as New Years is fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to write a list of the books I read this year, ranked from most hated to most loved.

. Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs – Hated the writing style, hated the characters, hated the glorified and blatant racism and sexism.

. Divergent, by Veronica Roth – I can totally see why this is popular, but I think I’m a little older than the target audience.

. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan – I know it’s a Man Booker Prize winner, but I just didn’t like it. Some of the descriptions screamed “I’m trying to win the Man Booker Prize!”

. Mockingjay,  by Suzanne Collins – I just wasn’t a fan of this one, although I did enjoy the first in the trilogy.

. The Odyssey, by Homer – I fully appreciate the brilliance of this, but it wasn’t exactly a page turner.

. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart – I loved parts and hated parts of this book. It was definitely suspenseful.

. A Place Called Here, by Cecilia Ahern – Really sweet story, although it was a little hard to get into and the characters were inconsistent.

. The Tempest, by William Shakespeare – Brilliantly written (obviously), but I just didn’t enjoy reading it that much.

. The Bridge to Holy Cross, by Paullina Simons – I much preferred the first book in the trilogy, but I did like the ending.

. Love, Rosie, by Cecilia Ahern – I really loved this book for some light reading.

. The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamieson – Entertaining book of essays, loosely revolving around the topic of “Empathy”.

. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion – This book was easy to read, and I fell in love with the characters.

. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky – I think I read this in one sitting. This is the kind of YA that I like.

. The Beach, by Alex Garland – Suspenseful, different, and great settings, although for some reason it took me a long time to get through.

. The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons – This book is such a page turner – I read all 700 pages in about a day, and it made me cry a lot.

. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – I’m surprised that I had gone so long without reading Pride and Prejudice. It definitely is a must-read.

. The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen  – This is probably the strangest book I have ever read, but I loved almost everything about it.

. The Old Man and The Sea, by Ernest Hemingway – Hemingway’s iceberg principle is so obvious in this 100 page novel about a man and a fish. I loved it and definitely want to reread it in 2016.

. Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine – The first book of prose poetry that I’ve ever read, and definitely not the last.

. Ariel, by Sylvia Plath – This book of poetry gives me goosebumps every time I open it. I’ve read it about four times this year.

. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan – This book really affected me – I had to sit quietly for a couple of hours after finishing it. It made me laugh, cry and feel completely numb all in a couple of hours.

. Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov – I don’t always know what he’s doing, but Nabokov is a genius. He has a way of making the sentences sound like music.

. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt – I’m sure this book isn’t the best written in the list, and there are definitely things about it that I don’t like, but somehow I knew after reading the first page that it would be in the top spot. This book makes you feel so left out. It makes you want to be liked by the characters and study the classics and walk around in the snow. I still think about the story all the time, even though I finished it months ago.

So that’s it, the list of books I read in 2015, rated from my least enjoyed to most enjoyed (not necessarily worst to best). I’d love to hear about your favourite books of 2015 in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Tamara Drazic