Best Rumi Books That Will Inspire and Enlighten You

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, most commonly known as Rumi in English, was a Persian poet and Sufi master from the 13th-century. He is one of the most popular and best-selling poets in the world. His poems awaken the love within us and help us connect deeply with our hearts and spirit.

Rumi was an accomplished teacher and jurist, giving sermons in the mosques. But in 1244, his life transformed completely when he met Shams Tabrizi, a wandering mystic. The two of them have a deep and mystical friendship. When his friend, Sham, disappeared and died a few years later. Rumi started expressing his love and longing for his friend through poems.

Rumi’s works are mostly written in Persian. But they have been translated and interpreted in many languages. One of the most famous English interpreters of Rumi’s poetry is Coleman Barks. You will find several of his books in the list below. 

Not all of the 10 best Rumi books below are Rumi’s works. Some are related or inspired by his works.

Find the book that resonates with you the most.

Top 10 Best Rumi Books

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1. The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

Instead of dividing Rumi’s poetry into the categories accepted by scholars, the poems presented in this book are organized playfully into twenty-eight divisions.

Rumi’s individual poems in Persian have no titles. The author adds whimsical titles to the poems to accentuate Rumi’s creativity. 

This book speaks to your soul and deeper essence. It’s not a book to study and analyze with your mind. You will enjoy this book more if you play with it by opening a random chapter or page and start reading. You might find the wisdom that answers your current problem and issue in life.

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2. Rumi: The Book of Love by Coleman Barks

“There is little one can say about love. It has to be lived, and it’s always in motion.”

Rumi was an enlightened lover. At first glance, the subtitle of this book, Poems of Ecstasy and Longing, might give you the impression that it is about romantic love or love between two people. However, Rumi’s definition of love is actually something much deeper and spiritual. Rumi wants us to surrender to the Divine that is within ourselves.

To fully appreciate and understand Rumi’s way of love, you will have to read this book with an open heart and listen for the presence inside the poems. Included in this book is also the author’s commentaries on the love poems of Rumi.

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3. The Masnavi, Book One by Jawid Mojaddedi

“Body is not veiled from soul, neither soul from body, yet no man hath ever seen a soul.”

Masnavi is a poem written in rhyming couplets and Rumi’s Masnavi is one of the most widely recognized works of Sufism. There are a total of six books in the series.

The Afghan researcher, Jawid Mojaddedi, has translated the first four books. In each book, you will find anecdotes delivered in poems. Each story illustrates a point and incorporates a variety of Islamic wisdom that helps you grow spiritually.

If you want to enjoy an authentic translation of Rumi’s masterpiece, this is the book for you. The translator has done a great job to keep both the rhyme and the core meaning of the poems.

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4. Rumi’s Little Book of Life by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin

“Nothing happens by chance, no one goes on a quest without a reason. Without the pull of the magnet, there is no action.”

If you want a book that guides you in your inner journey or helps you to explore the self deeply, this is the book for you. This collection of mystical poetry focuses on coming to grips with your inner life. 

Translated by an experienced Persian translator, this book selects some of the best of Rumi’s poems and organizes them into three different parts — the soul, the heart, and the spirit. Each part brings you deeper into your spiritual essence.

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5. The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”

This isn’t Rumi’s work per se but a novel that uses Rumi’s story to bring out the message of love. 

This novel is written from the perspective of multiple characters in both the first person and third person. There are two parallel stories in this book, the American woman (Ella) struggling to find love in a passionless marriage, and the spiritual friendship between Rumi and Shams. Through reading about Rumi’s transformation, Ella learns rules about love and realizes how Rumi’s story mirrors her own. 

If you prefer to read stories instead of poems, you will resonate with this book more.

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6. The Illuminated Rumi by Coleman Barks

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

If you want a beautiful coffee table book or give someone a gift, then this is the book for you.

Illustrated by Michael Green, this book has captivating collages of typography, illustrations, photographs, and artwork. They go along with Rumi’s inspiring poems and writings, and the author’s commentaries.

Read this book if you want to experience a deeper connection to your soul and Divine Love.

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7. The Pocket Rumi by Kabir Helminski

“When I am with you our loving won’t let us sleep. Away from you the tears won’t let me sleep.”

Rumi’s poetry requires us to reflect deeply. It’s not something which we can read once and fully comprehend.

If you want a small, pocket-sized book which you can carry around in your handbag or work bag, this is the perfect book for you. You can take out this book to read or ponder whenever you are waiting in a line.

In this book, you will find a collection of the best of Rumi’s poetry. His words have a way to touch the very depth of our hearts and bring harmony between the physical and the spiritual.

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8. Rumi – Past and Present, East and West by Franklin Lewis

“I hope this book will help ground all the lovers of Rumi as they circle, moth-like, around the flame of his works.”

Who was Rumi? If you are a fan of Rumi and have always wanted to know more about this mystical poet, this is the book for you.

In this book, the author studies as many resources as he can and tries to reconstruct Rumi by giving you a historical overview of his life and his influence. This includes Rumi’s father, his teacher, Shams Tabrizi, and the religious circle in which Rumi grew up.

Meticulously documented and beautifully researched, this is the most detailed biography of Rumi in English. It is an essential read and reference for those studying the man.

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9. A Year with Rumi by Coleman Barks

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that light becomes this art.”

If you enjoy reading Rumi’s poetry, this book has one poetry for each day of the year.

Coleman Barks plays a central role in making Rumi a popular poet in the world. Even though he can neither speak nor read Persian, he rewrites the poems based on other English translations.

This book is a result of the author’s own soul practice and life work. The author was introduced to the works of Rumi in 1976 and ever since he had been enjoying and rephasing Rumi’s poems.

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10. Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved by Jonathan Star

“What is your life about, anyway?— Nothing but a struggle to be someone, Nothing but a running from your own silence.”

In Rumi’s poetry, love is the soul of the universe, and this soul knows no bounds — it embraces all people, all countries, and all religions. His poetry has the magical ability to show us the secrets of love and how boundless we can become.

What’s special about this book is at the end of the book, there are also some anecdotes about Rumi. There is also a chapter for the symbolism of Sufi terms. This is good for a first-time reader of Sufi poetry.

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My Spiritual Book About Love and Friendships

Reconnect to Love by Yong Kang Chan

Loneliness is not due to a lack of external connection. It’s a result of internal disconnection. I resonate with this Rumi’s quote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

I used to be someone who frequently feels insecure and separated from others. But after I realized I was holding onto unhappy incidents of abandonment and betrayal from the past, I learned to heal my wounded heart and connect deeply with the love within me.

If you enjoy Rumi’s poetry about love, you might resonate with this book which is all about reconnecting to the love that is deep within us.

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Yong Kang

Yong Kang

Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.