The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Safak

This book came highly recommended by a friend who couldn’t describe what the book was about to me but just told me that I absolutely MUST read it.  She loved the book so much that she bought her own copy which she happily circulates to any friends to whom she suggests the book.  In my head, making an investment in purchasing a book and having it take up bookshelf space signifies a book that has merit to it so of course, I had to see what this book was all about.

After reading this book, I understand why my friend couldn’t eloquently describe what this book is about.  In the most basic terms it tells two seemingly separate stories simultaneously.  One is a contemporary story of Ella who, after 20 years of marriage and 3 kids later, realizes that a deep and meaningful form of love is missing in her life.  The second story takes us back to the 13th century and explores the relationship between Shamz of Tabriz, a wandering and unconventional dervish, and Rumi, a highly regarded Islamic scholar.  On the surface you wonder what the link between these two stories could possibly be – enter the Forty Rules of Love.

Zi's Reads:  The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Zi’s Reads: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

This is one of those books that inevitably has you saying “oh my God, me too” or “yes, I totally agree!”  In short, I think it’s relatable no matter your age or where you are in life.  The Forty Rules of Love causes you to question what love is exactly, how is it supposed to feel, how do you know you’ve achieved it, and how to do you express it.  It also goes beyond love and can be applied to living a life that is meaningful and not so consumed with material things.  In a time where life so easily becomes about likes and validation, this book causes you to pause and question yourself on whether you are passively going through life or if there is a higher purpose you are searching for.  The story of Shams of Tabriz and Rumi touches on these aspects in relation to God and the search for the divine but as you read on, it’s easy to see that even if you do not believe in God there is still much to learn about yourself and this book can give you a nudge on journey.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a self help book and by the end of the book you won’t have all the answers but you do get a deeper sense of what love and life could be.

This is the type of book that causes self thought and contemplation.  This book will mean different things to different people.  If you’re a person that thrives of philosophical books or books whose words say one thing but upon reflection could mean something else then this is the book for you.  This to me encounters the true sufi spirit.

I am not typically a philosophical reader so I must admit there were parts of this book where I found myself losing a bit of interest but overall, the book was a deeper read than anything I’ve read in a long time.


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