The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Text & picture by @darshu_08

While @thesecondlibrarian has been wanting to read this book forever, she’s a tad better procrastinator than me. This book has been so talked about, I couldn’t wait to read it. Took me not more than some 4 days to finish this because, well, college wouldn’t allow me to binge. Ugh!

This is not the typical romance novel you expect it to be as see as you saw the title – one could mistake this as a quintessential “romance”. This is a dive deep into the world of Sufism and mysticism, exploring concepts of love, life and heartbreak from the perspective of spirituality – a concept yet unexplored by many. This book gave me goosebumps in some parts, imparting wisdom that shifted my world view. The forty rules of Shams of Tabriz are gold for those who are into philosophy and spirituality. However, some parts of the book can get too spiritual especially for those who are not avid readers of this genre.


Shams of Tabriz has been depicted beautifully as a character although Rumi could have been described in a bit more detail given his role in the story. Ella’s personality has been given a depth that goes perfectly with the theme of the story. I love how each of the characters other than the protagonists have an equally important role to play until the end, I haven’t found that in most books I’ve read.
The complex simplicity that the words create was refreshing. In fact, for me, I’d say the story probably taught me as much, if not more, as each of those rules did. I think a lot of us would prefer a story eliciting a transformation in its own subtle ways over the step-by-step instructions telling us what to do. Elif Shafak strikes a beautiful balance between the two.

I like how the book switches between the past and the present smoothly without confusing the reader and how the story aligns perfectly with Ella’s journey, both internal and external. Forty Rules of Love is a book that teaches you through a story you wished you got to live. It’s a fab 4/5 for me, mostly because now I know why the world has been raving about this.

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