I read The Forty Rules of Love


I’m not sure if I spoke about #PayByBookDay yet, but it was this AMAZING initiative by JeddahReads. People were invited to a cafe, and asked to bring books along. Then they could converse with renowned authors or journalists or psychologists or get a coffee, all in exchange for books. Books were the currency for the day. And, of course, if you didn’t have books with you you could just hang out and mingle. Such stuff, especially involving expats is SO RARE in Jeddah that I relish any such occasion.

Anyway, so here I was listening to a (slightly boring) speech that started the evening off. I was standing next to a lady who had been at the FUP nights where I had been guest speaker. That’s literally all we knew of each other. We glanced at each other and she seemed as eye-rollingly bored as I was. So we exchanged a grin of understanding and I noticed she was carrying a PILE of books, one of which was ‘The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak’.

Half jokingly I said to her, “oh you should give that one to me, I’m dying to read it!”

And she turned and pressed the book in my hand and said I must take it. That once I read it, I’ll probably want to keep it. She was insistent so I shrugged and happily accepted.

So I walked out of Pay By Book Day with the hard copy of Elif Shafak’s novel, which was strange in itself because I had become a kindle person! But there was something truly magical about flipping through the actual book.

Another matter entirely is that the book left me feeling enraged. I really dislike the character of Shams of Tabriz… especially when he couldn’t be bothered to treat Kimia appropriately, causing her death. I felt like he was self centred and, though he transformed Rumi, he destroyed everything else around him. Some may argue that that was necessary for the transformation, and they may be true, but I just can’t condone such brutality.

This is like when I read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, all over again.

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