Love – such a simple word, but is it? On quick reflex, I characterize love as respect, trust, having deep affection, and this nebulous warm and fuzzy feeling. What is the first thing you think of when you see this word? Have you spent much time reflecting on this term? How do you define it? Is it an expression that happens, or do you choose to give it? So many questions, I know; that’s how I felt while reading the book All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. I’m not sure what I expected from this read, but I did not expect it to thrust me outside of my comfort zone, and this book did precisely that!
This is a nonfiction read that is divided into 13 chapters. The book focuses on hooks’ reflections on the intersection between love and American Society, touching on capitalism, community, friendship, family, spirituality, and romantic relationships between men and women. While scientific research was slim, she frequently references reputable authors and gurus on this subject.
I truly enjoyed this book because it revolutionized my ideas on love. Even though her writing is straightforward, I constantly paused and self-reflected. I savored every word, so much so that I felt like I underlined every other sentence. It was particularly refreshing that hooks did not concentrate on romantic love and began the narrative with a clear-cut definition of love, which gave the book a solid foundation.
A few quotes caught my attention, and here is one, “We learn about love in childhood. Whether our homes are happy or troubled, our families functional or dysfunctional, it’s the original school of love”. This quote is a simple concept, but it was still jarring. It challenged me to mull over my childhood, relationships with family, and past romantic relationships, allowing me to better understand my present connections with others. In addition, it makes apparent how generational trauma perpetuates until someone is courageous enough to break it.
Here is another one, “Greed violates the spirit of connectedness and community that is natural to human survival. It wipes out individual recognition of the needs and concerns of everyone, replacing this awareness with harmful self-centeredness. Healthy narcissism (the self-acceptance, self-worth, that is the cornerstone of self-love) is replaced by a pathological narcissism (wherein only the self matters) that justifies any action that enables the satisfying of desires… Many of our nation’s citizens are afraid to embrace an ethics of compassion because it threatens their security. Brainwashed to believe that they can only be secure if they have more than the next person, they accumulate and still feel insecure because there is always someone who has accumulated more”. I found this quote to be interesting because hooks is displaying how individualistic our society is, which has become more evident during the pandemic. We are so fixated on ourselves and surpassing the next person or even keeping up with the Joneses that we lose sight of what really matters in life – love, friendship, community, and empathy.
Finally, even though this book forced me to confront some uncomfortable truths, I’m glad I read it. The only negative thing about the book I will add is that hook’s reflections on a few famous people are pretty pessimistic; some might even term them heartless. However, these reflections proved how easy it is to form judgments and how difficult it is to express empathy all the time. In conclusion, I still strongly recommend this book, and it’s a necessary read at some point in your life.
Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at a bookstore near you!