Book Review – February 2019

This month I was able to read just one book. (I started another but couldn’t finish it.)

Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Would you like to read a book within a book? Then consider this one.

The main protagonist Ella Rubenstein is a content housewife. She and her husband have three children. Everything seems to be perfectly well but Ella has somewhere along the line stopped believing in romantic love. She takes up a job with a book agency to review submitted manuscripts and her first project is a manuscript titled Sweet Blasphemy (which we get to read along with her). As she starts reading the manuscript, she decides to send an e-mail to its author which turns out to be the first of many. Sweet Blasphemy is set in the 13th century and is an imaginary retelling of the relationship between the great poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, a wandering whirling dervish. As Ella reads the manuscript and applies some lessons from it to her life, her life begins to change a bit at a time.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book-

When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn.

Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.

Is there a way to grasp what love means without becoming a lover first?
Love cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.
Love cannot be explained, yet it explains all.

This book was lent to me by my friend Y and upon reading the title I was initially skeptical about it. But as I read on, the text seemed to have a philosophical grounding and that piqued my interest. Shams of Tabriz is essentially a Sufi. So the text is sprinkled with spiritual and philosophical musings. The whirling dervish lays out his theories which he calls rules of love. This love is essentially the love of God but applies to all its various versions. Apart from this, it is a light, breezy read as every chapter consists of a short narration or point of view of a character. Oh and another interesting fact about this book is that every chapter begins with a word starting with the letter ‘B’ (Read the book to find why).


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