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The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak [BOOK REVIEW]

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak [BOOK REVIEW] Reading The Forty Rules of Love was like enduring a spiritual journey myself!

Reading The Forty Rules of Love was like enduring a spiritual journey myself! What made this experience even more incredible was that I read this book whilst I was on a road trip across Europe last summer.

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak [BOOK REVIEW] Reading The Forty Rules of Love was like enduring a spiritual journey myself!

Pages: 358

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Penguin

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★


Discover the forty rules of love…

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella’s life – an emptiness once filled by love.

So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.

It is a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse, taking Ella and us into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored…


Even though there is the usual synopsis – this book is so much more than that. Through the lives of Ella, Rumi, Shams of Tabriz, Aziz and many more characters, we were transported to Turkey! And through their stories, we experience love, faith, poetry, freedom and self-fulfilment. Diving into these pages not only made me feel all kinds of ways, but it amplified these feelings.

The culture, the places, the people and the raw emotions spoke to me in a way I haven’t felt in a long time from a book. Perhaps it has to do with the fact I was born in Macedonia. Perhaps with the fact I’ve been to Turkey a couple of times, especially to Konya – a town that features in this book very often. But I think regardless of my biases and experiences, this book would have had the exact same effect on me. It’s so beautifully written and once it was all over, I wanted so much more. I cannot recommend it enough! Below I have listed a lot of my favourite quotes from the book. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!

“If a stone hits a river, the river will treat it as yet another commotion in its steady tumultuous course. Nothing unusual. Nothing unmanageable. If a stone hits a lake, however, the lake will never be the same again.”

“Love came to Ella as suddenly and brusquely as if a stone had been hurled from out of nowhere into the tranquil pond of her life.”

“For despite what some people say, love is not only a sweet feeling bound to come and quickly go away.”

“The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart.”

“Intellect and love are made of different materials. 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.”

“Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. 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.”

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn to see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome.”

“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?”

“Personally, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with sadness. Just the opposite – hypocrisy made people happy, and truth made them sad.”

“The whole universe is contained within a single human being – you. Everything that you see around, including the things you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you get to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness both your dark and bright sides, you will arrive at a supreme form of consciousness.”

“Did you know that in mystic thought forty symbolises the ascent from one level to a higher one and spiritual awakening? When we mourn we mourn for forty days. When a baby is born it takes forty days for him to get ready to start life on earth. And when we are in love we need to wait forty days to be sure of our feelings.”

“If you want to change the way others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve this stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.”

“While pretty flowers are instantly plucked, few people pay attention to plants and thorns and prickles. But the truth is, great medicines are often made from these.”

“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.”

“Language, he said, did more to hide than reveal the Truth, and as a result people constantly misunderstand and misjudge one another. In a world beset with mistranslations, there was no use in being resolute about any topic, because it might as well be that even our strongest convictions were caused by a simple misunderstanding.”

“In this world take pity on three kinds of people. The rich man who has lost his fortune, the well-respected man who has lost his respectability, and the wise man who is surrounded by ignorants.”

About The Author:

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak [BOOK REVIEW] Reading The Forty Rules of Love was like enduring a spiritual journey myself!

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages.

An advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice a TED Global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better. She has judged numerous literary prizes and is chairing the Wellcome Prize 2019.

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