Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

BOOK TITLE: THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE | AUTHOR: ELIF SHAFAK | PUBLISHER: PENGUIN | GENRE: FICTION | WINGED RATING: 3.5 / 5

Love knows no rules, no boundaries. An intrinsically weaved emotion in the light of all the good resting in the hearts, love liberates. The Forty Rules of Love written by Elif Shafak, the acclaimed author of nine books, and the most read female author in Turkey, is a story of Ella Rubinstein who has a perfect husband, children, and home. Ella is bestowed with a life that many would dream of. She once loved, but the sands of time brought in a slow storm leaving her parched of emotions. What was left of her was nothing but the compulsion of responsibilities alone. Ella had made peace with herself but little did she know that a manuscript of Rumi’s and Shams of Tabriz’s bond by an unknown author from a faraway land would change her perception towards life and she would leave in search of love following her heart alone.

The book travels back and forth in time including the episodes of Ella’s life in Northampton and then there are episodes from the life of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, two mystic characters, narrating their love beyond all the galaxies, in Aziz’s manuscript. Shams, a spiritual mystic from Konya was different from the other dervishes. He redefined spirituality and challenged the ways of society in many ways. Soon he made more enemies; the only friend he found was in Rumi, one the most learned, respected, and sought after men. It was this sense of spiritual love between the two that brought poetry to Rumi making him the most loved poet for centuries. Their story is about the transcendent union and unbearable separation. Their story is about love. And then there is Ella, in a parallel story, devoid of love, discovering Shams in Aziz.

The plot of both the stories, although placed in two cultures very distinct from each other, is very captivating for the readers. The supporting characters too conspicuously add charm to the roles of the protagonists. All the episodes in the book are aptly framed within the five elements of nature – earth, water, wind, fire, and void, essentially carrying the forty rules of love of the highest spiritual order.

“When I was a child, I saw God

I saw angels;

I watched the mysteries of the higher and the lower worlds. I thought all men saw the same. At last I realised that they did not see….” – Shams of Tabriz

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Rumi and Shams perform the whirling dance of the dervishes before the people of Konya for the first time. The intensity with which the whole scene is written is exemplary.

“Giving himself over to the hands of God, the first dervish started to whirl, the hems of his skirts gently swishing with a separate life of their own. We all join in and whirled until there remained around us nothing but Oneness. Whatever we received from the skies, we passed on to the earth, from God to people. Each and every one of us became a link connecting the Lover to the Beloved. When the music ceased, we jointly bowed to the essential forces of the universe: fire, wind, earth, and water, and the fifth element, the void”

Rich with Sufi mysticism, the book shall make you traverse through lands unknown; explore the depths in your heart and width of your mind. If you have been reading Rumi’s poetry and are in love with those, then this is the book for you, for it will take you a step closer in understanding his verses. And if you have not read Rumi before, then this book shall make you curious to explore beyond.

“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” – one of the rules of Shams

Back Cover of the Book

Price: INR 499 | £8.99

Book Review: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

BOOK TITLE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME | AUTHOR: STEPHEN HAWKING | PUBLISHER: BANTAM BOOKS | GENRE: NON-FICTION/SCIENCE | WINGED RATING: 4 / 5

Physicists across the world are constantly exploring answers to disclose the hidden secrets of the universe. One renowned name who has recorded unparalleled success in his quest for truth is Stephen Hawking. This astronomical physicist has made extraordinary success in his research related to the black holes. His name is prestigiously recorded in the pages of history for the time to come. Surprisingly, time was a subject that always fascinated Hawking. In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen tries to answer some of the most difficult questions in an unpretentious manner to relate to the commoners who otherwise are not related in any way to science or astronomical physics for that matter. Have you ever thought if there has ever been a beginning of time or can time run backward? Does the universe have a boundary or is it simply infinite beyond imagination? Stephen systematically tries to answer these questions and besides, also addresses many other astronomical theories, not to forget his favorite black holes, in the book.

The book has an introduction from the legendary Carl Sagan who vividly expresses his idea and experience with Hawking.

“Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein’s famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God.” – Carl Sagan

At the beginning of the book, the author puts an in-depth glimpse of the astronomical theories and beliefs dating back to the times of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. He highlights in great detail the gradual shift in the acceptance of these theories and how these made way for the Newtonian and Einstein theories.

“The concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: what did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn’t reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe”

The book further covers the relation between space and time, expansion of the universe including various theoretical models and experiments put up by well-known physicists, detailed explanation of the theory of black holes in a modest language, the idea of singularity, the concept of time travel, gradually moving towards the unified theory, discovering the possibilities of its existence.

“Why do we see only three space and one-time dimension? The suggestion is that the other dimensions are curved up into a space of very small size, something like a million million million million millionth of an inch. It is like the surface of an orange: if you look at it close up, it is all curved and wrinkled, but if you look at it from a distance, you don’t see the bumps and it appears to be smooth”

The book is pure science explained in the simplest possible way. I recommend this book to everyone but particularly, if you have been a fan of sci-fi books and movies, then this book is a must-read to grasp the notions which otherwise look no lesser than magic or well-scripted thriller as you turn the pages or watch it on the big screen. This book was originally published 1988 and more than 10 million copies of the book have been sold so far. This is a good book to put your brain muscles to some exercise and widen your perception about so many universal properties we tend to ignore in our otherwise busy lives, one of which is time.

Price: INR 399 / £8.99

We Stand Against Book Piracy

WINGED FABLES supports creativity and strongly stands against piracy of books. In the first video #talks session, the founder Nazneen discusses the reasons, consequences and preventive measures to curb piracy.

#talks – Speaker: Nazneen Kachwala (Founder: WINGED FABLES)

I am not an online person, so whenever I want to buy books I walk down to a popular bookshop in my city, spend hours there reading, and end up buying many books at a time. That’s a treat I give to myself every month. However, one day a small book shop on the walking lane caught my attention and I happened to park my bike aside and walk-in. And guess what this tiny book shop was selling every possible book title you could imagine and even those that were temporarily not available in the big named stores. I was surprised and filled with joy and enthusiasm to buy all that I was not able to find elsewhere otherwise. To begin with, I picked up two books Poor Economics, and Homo Deus, the printed price of each said 499. As I was about to hand a good 1000, the owner said it’s just 400 for both these books. I thought I didn’t hear him well, but he took the books that I was holding and specifically wrote the amount on each book. He charged me 180 for Poor Economics and 220 for Homo Deus. That’s a whopping 40% discount. I was excited and promised to return to the same shop to buy books. As I reached home and opened these books, I found the print of a bit unusual, and paper of a different quality. I could hardly see any picture printed in Homo Deus, and in no time I realized that these are nothing but the pirated versions of these books. This very thought of buying books unknowingly from an unethical source brought me a not so good reading experience. On examining the quality of these books further, I found that even the copyright notes and the price stickers were duplicated the way. Same way, last year, attracted by low prices, I ordered a book from a popular Instagram account. As soon as I took the book in my hand, I knew it was not the original version that I was looking for.

Similarly, I came across many accounts and individuals on various social media platforms that have been selling books with heavy discounts and contributing to this whole big business of piracy. As per the Federation of Booksellers and Publishers Association of India, about 7000 crores publishing industries are affected by book piracy creating an annual loss of around 400 crores. This includes books from the bestselling authors, expensive books for studying medicine, textbooks, paid journals, and books from international authors. I understand that book piracy is a result of technological advancement. With access to high-quality printers, it becomes very difficult to find a difference between the original and duplicate versions of the book and anyone can run a small press to publish hundreds of books in a year. Book piracy is also a result of more demand than supply, high prices of the original books, greed for quick money, non-existence, or weak enforcement of the legal copyrighted work, and also when someone is simply not aware of the consequences of piracy.

The pirates illegally reproducing these books do not have to pay the publishers, authors, or the government, making them more and more confident about their misconduct. Also, to point out illegal downloads are prone to having viruses that could destroy your hard-drives and ruin computers. There are huge fines and penalties for written down in every country to curb piracy. I know that in today’s technically upgraded world where knowledge and information are made free, it becomes hard for some of us to afford expensive books and we are immediately enticed to turn to cheaper options. However, this approach certainly discourages authors, writers, and creativity as a whole as it becomes impossible to keep a count of their work sold and bring them the due returns for all their hard work.

Therefore, it’s a humble appeal to buy books as far as possible from an authentic source and publisher. If money is a problem, then you can explore the whole big market of used books. This will help to balance out things. Please form a habit to search journals, books, and articles from authenticated sources. Keep a good record of the sites, places from where you collect this information, and do not hesitate to report any kind of piracy you come across. Winged Fables as a community stands against book piracy and this video is our message towards our next steps in this direction.

I hope you found this information useful and will try to do your bit to support this cause taken by the WINGED FABLES community