Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love

Have you ever come across a book that changed a piece or two of your mind and became a part of your bookshelf forever? I did and in my case, that book was Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.

This is not the first time Shafak captured my heart with her beautiful writing. Her book The Architect's Apprentice took me to the ancient Istanbul and described it more gracefully than any historian could ever try. It all started when my twin sister started reading her, and you know, reading is contagious. I was hooked, too.
The Forty Rules of Love; the title with little cliche. I wouldn't have picked it up if it weren't my bibliophile friends who all loved it dearly. Of course, I was to know how it was, after a while.

I was on a books shopping spree when I came across the most beautiful edition of it. Royal blue with gold detailing, that book was literally glimmering. On that moment, I had decided whether it's worth it or not, I was getting it.

I started reading it on my way to a family picnic by the lake. It was such a busy occasion, however, I managed to sneak in few chapters, and then, I couldn't stop. I took it on the boat rides with me where the water flow was so strong that it was even finding its way in our boat; I was still reading.


"Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams's search for Rumi and the dervish's role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams's lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi's story mir­rors her own and that Zahara—like Shams—has come to set her free."
The book adjoins two stories. One of Shams of Tabraiz & Rumi; two sufi and religious figures with a Muslim background back in 12th century. The other one is of Ella & a mysterious author, whose book she was supposed to read and analyze, who turns out to be more than just a stranger she got to know. This book was a beautiful mix of history, sorrow, philosophy, and reality of life. The name of the book doesn't actually refer to certain romantic rules; it's more about religious guidelines involving love in our daily life encounters.

It mainly involves sufism that has had its charm on me. However, there were certain things I wouldn't agree on. Nor I would do it now. But as everything happens and grows in its own orbit, sufism isn't a field to be understood or be deciphered by everyone. The book gives a vague background of how sufism was like back in time of Iraq and Iran (two prominent literacy heavens of ancient times) and how it is now & I couldn't be more happy to read it.
The story involves chapters from different character's point-of-view who were presented on either sides of the story. Ella's story is about her domestic life and how she grew tired of it and somehow, her life landed her to a point where she virtually meets a person who's unlike anyone she's ever met before and this incident turns her life upside down. And also connects her to Shams of Tabraiz & Rume; oddly, through a story written by the very same person she's falling in love with. With Shams of Tabraiz and Rumi's story weaved along, this book ended with a very emotional and heart breaking point and I was silently wiping my tears away when it ended.

“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven't loved enough.”

“How can love be worthy of its name if one selects solely the pretty things and leaves out the hardships? It is easy to enjoy the good and dislike the bad. Anybody can do that. The real challenge is to love the good and the bad together, not because you need to take the rough with the smooth but because you need to go beyond such descriptions and accept love in its entirety.”

“I hunt everywhere for a life worth living and a knowledge worth knowing. Having roots nowhere, I have everywhere to go.”

“Moments are born and moments die. For new experiences to come to life, old ones need to wither away.”

“Cities are erected on spiritual columns. Like giant mirrors, they reflect the hearts of their residents. If those hearts darken and lose faith, cities will lose their glamour.”

This book is a treasury of words. Words that could change a mind or a life, to be honest. I read a bunch of philosophical books in 2015 and only Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho was the one to convey a solid message. After all that time, this one has reassured me how this genre would always be the one I will turn to, when the rest clutter my mind.

My ratings: 5/5 (omg read it now & make it your shelf's new addition)

What was the last book you read? Have you read Forty Rules of Love?
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