Full disclosure: I was given a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Love is in the air, and there are many ways to express it. One way is to read poetry (no matter how corny it is), for they come from the most vulnerable and deepest emotions. Shah Asad Rizvi has a new poetry collection called The Book of Love: 50 Poems to Fall in Love. It focuses on love and its many manifestations like longing, becoming one with another, love at first sight, and what it means to be in love. Like his previous work Divan of Shah, it’s a good gateway into this genre.
While I was reading this collection, I decided to listen to the 69 Love Songs album from The Magnetic Fields, which includes the famous indie song “The Book of Love.” However, I stopped halfway through the album when I felt that it was mocking the poetry (not unintentionally of course). The poems were clearly written by someone who felt intensely about love and would express his feelings about it no matter how cliche it sounded. This is in contrast to the album, which was clearly made by a cynical, but sincere guy, who expressed love in more realistic and blunt terms. I mean, the opening line to “The Book of Love” is “The book of love is long and boring.”
I can describe The Book of Love: 50 Poems to Fall in Love as many things, which I’ll get to in a bit, but the two things that I won’t call it are long (it’s a little over 100 pages) and inherently boring. So, in conclusion, if people feel the need to read the collection while listening to music, I would definitely suggest piano music like this collection on YouTube. It’ll set a more romantic mood.
As for the collection itself, I noticed that The Book of Love had similar strengths and weaknesses to its predecessor. The pros included the simple, elegant and (mostly) non-rhyming language, which make them feel like pop songs but with a sonnet tone. They also make the emotions and topics clear without being too obvious. In other words, the words and tone are elevated enough that people who love poetry can relish its every word and cadence, yet blunt enough that it doesn’t disway those who are not as into the genre as much. In addition, it helps that the collection forces people to sit down and actually read them in order to absorb their meanings. Some of my favorite poems were “Origins”, “Gesture”, “Gravity”, and “Doorstep.”
On the other hand, the main con is that it covers the same aspects, but in different ways. Rizvi also has a tendency to repeat the same metaphors to express his feelings like rainbow and colors as well as summer and breeze. There are variations of I can’t live without you thrown in there as well. This could bore some people. Some of it is understandable since some of the poems in The Book of Love were originally from Divan of Shah. I’m hoping that for future collections, Rizvi expands the ways he expresses himself and how he looks at subjects like love.
Before I finish this review, there’s one more thing that I need to point out. As I mentioned earlier, the title is The Book of Love: 50 Poems to Fall in Love. Technically, there are 49 poems. I noticed that the poems “Envious” and “Home” are the same one right down the wording and comma placement. I don’t know how it slipped under the author’s and editor’s noses, but if one is going to have 50 poems in a collection, have 50 poems. It’s like naming a group Fifth Harmony, but only having four members.
In conclusion, like his previous work, Shah Asad Rizvi’s The Book of Love: 50 Poems to Fall in Love is an accessible poetry collection. It’s elegantly passionate and palatable at the same time. Although there are some minor flaws, I would still recommend it to those who want to start reading poetry as well as to those who love poetry, especially the romantic kind. This book of love is not dull and boring, and I’m sure people will love it if their significant others read it to them.
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