The summer heat is reason enough not to step outside the confines of your room. And what better way is there to spend your time this summer than to get some reading done. We, at Siddysays, picked 3 books to read this summer: something old, something fairly recent and something for those of you who like an engaging book with nothing short of a nihilistic narrator.

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forty rules of love cover books to readForty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak

The wisdom of Rumi’s words has been used in one too many books. However, not many tend to explore the companionship and elation of Rumi after his fateful meeting with Shams Tabriz that changed him altogether. Shafak explores this cerebrally engaging companionship through the eyes and tongues of many narrators throughout the book.

The book starts with the story of Ella, a mother and a housewife who, to escape the mundane cruelty of an empty nest and infidelity, takes up a job as a manuscript reader with a publisher. It is here that Ella reads a manuscript on the ascent of Rumi as a seeker of love and truth and his relationship with the Wandering Dervish, Shams of Tabriz.

The story explores and challenges conventional ideas of love and fulfillment taking the reader through a journey of both past and present, through many lands and many relationships. Shafak draws beautifully a comparison in personal growth and self-realization through the eyes of Ella, who is changed after reading the manuscript and through Rumi, who already being a renowned scholar gives up everything to find eternal love.

Shafak reinforces the beauty of Sufism, which revolves around the purity of the soul, a religious idea that is accepting of the goodness within all people-be it a drunk, drifter or a whore. The book is an international best seller and for good reason too as it packs in it all essential elements to engage the reader: attention to detail, drama, love found and lost and a plot for assassination.

Hell is in the here and the now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.”

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