📖Leave the World Behind: 🍸clarity

📖: Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind (2020)
🍸: clarity

Why this book?

This is the kind of book where you know what’s going to happen (broadly), but you don’t really know what’s actually happening. 🤔

Two families — strangers to each other — are sequestered in an isolated AirBnb home in the woods of Long Island. They know that NYC has lost all power but don’t know what kind of danger they are in. There’s no access to information. So WHAT exactly is happening?

Could it be an act of war, environmental disaster, or pandemic? The author drops frequent commentary on the declining state of the world to lead us to speculate just as much as the characters do. The expanding sense of foreboding kept me engaged throughout the book, even when I didn’t find any satisfying answers.

By the end, I felt that the book is less interested in uncovering the source of the crisis, than it is in posing bigger questions about life and the world that we’ve created:

  • How do we live our life when the end may be near, but don’t know how or when it will come? 
  • How much of our humanity or inhumanity do we reveal in times of crisis? 
  • Can we truly prevent the end of the world? If the warning signs have been hidden in plain sight all along, how have we blinded ourselves from seeing this truth? 

I recommend this if you’re in the mood for a story with major pandemic vibes and ambiguous plot lines. Or if you want to read a book with lots of uncommonly used words to brush up on your vocab (great for GRE prep or NYT crosswords! 🤓). Overall, the story was effective in urging me to fully focus on the present — because what else can you do when everything as you know it is at stake?

Why this drink?

This novel’s pairing is a vodka martini because I suspect the family members are drinking some variation of this cocktail as they nervously wait for news. One of them had bought a bottle of Tito’s from the grocery store, which ends up being served with ice and lemon. A couple rounds of these will definitely help with leaving the world behind.


2 oz vodka
1 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

lemon peel

  1. combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir well
  2. strain and serve in a chilled glass
  3. express the lemon peel and garnish the drink with it

Another round, please! 🥂
You might also like:
Ling Ma’s Severance (2018)

Let’s discuss!

Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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