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When you read Forty Rules of Love by Turkish author Elif Shafak, you actually read two books! Yes, a book in the book 🙂

Two stories, 800 years apart, are intertwined into this beautiful book! Ella, a 40 years old  discontented Massachusetts housewife, takes up a task of reviewing a book on Rumi by Aziz and takes you to 1240s Konya in Turkey. It’s a blend of Sufi Philosophy, lives of Rumi and Shams, the Forty Rules of Love and random intricacies and fallacies of human mind in any era/age.

Rumi and Shams’ story is narrated by multiple characters from their time. Sufi philosophy is put to words by means of very common people like a drunk man, a harlot, an assassin and thats what make it so digestible and convincing!  Elif has created a beautiful fictional world around these characters! Ella’s story was a bit less appealing to me but still the book as a whole was an amazing inspirational, spiritual delight! If you go on highlighting the nice lines, you might end up doing it for more than half the book. Concentrate more on the quotes than my review, to get a glimpse of the book!

It’s not a page turner but a book which makes you stop reading, close the book, think about it, reread and so on! The Forty Rules are incorporated in the story in a way that you realize them more deeply! The book never gets dominated by the aura of Rumi or Shams, it’s their philosophy and thoughts that captivates the reader! Its makes you realise that love doesn’t always mean intimacy between a man and a woman. It refers to Love as love for your fellow beings, Love for what you want to do, Love between a student and a teacher and above all love for your self! Lot of contemplation to be done when you go through this saga of love in two eras distinct in time but so similar when it comes to human emotions! For me, in one word… it was a SOOTHING read!

Some quotes:

“Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.”

“If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”

“Love cannot be explained, yet it explains all.”

“Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you”

“Bountiful is your life, full and complete. Or so you think, until someone comes along and makes you realize what you have been missing all this time. Like a mirror that reflects what is absent rather than present, he shows you the void in your soul—the void you have resisted seeing. That person can be a lover, a friend, or a spiritual master. Sometimes it can be a child to look after. What matters is to find the soul that will complete

yours. All the prophets have given the same advice: Find the one who will be your mirror!”.”

“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come”

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

“Love exists within each of us from the moment we are born and waits to be discovered from then on.”

“No matter who we are or where we live, deep inside we all feel incomplete. It’s like we have lost something and need to get it back. Just what that something is, most of us never find out. And of those who do, even fewer manage to go out and look for it.”

“East, West, South or North makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey, a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.”

“May love find you when you least expect, where you least expect.”

“Whenever you got angry with someone, you should replace the face of that person in your mind with the face of someone you love …perhaps you could find something to like in him.”

“Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.”