All About Love: New Visions – bell hooks
“The word “love” is most often defined as a noun, yet…we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” writes bel
l hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new ethic for a people and a society bereft with lovelessness.
As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question “What is love?” her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society’s failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for the individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the “100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life.” All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.
bell hooks is the pen name of Gloria Watkins, feminist and social activist.
All About Love: New Visions is almost an essay on love, how we receive it and how it affects us. bell hooks questions if any of us really know or understand what love is. Whilst majority of the book relates to romantic love, however, she mentions over types of love too. She hypothesis that as a child we are conditioned to understand love in different ways based on the family dynamic.
Broken down into 13 Chapters, across which she delves into each aspect of love and how it can be received by different people. Grace, Clarity, Justice, Honesty, Commitment, Spirituality, Values, Greed, Community, Mutuality, Romance, Loss, Healing, and Destiny, each chapter starts with a quotation which sums up the theme.
Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this book. I found the way it was written extremely grating, in particular, the lack of proof reading with regard to the grammar and spelling. Additionally, any quotes in the bulk of the book were not referenced and therefore felt slightly hollow.
To me, the book did not provide a presence. There was no clear structure, and it felt like it was rambling, as opposed to a conversation with the reader. It felt scathing and quite negative, which is not something I was looking for in a book I was reading for pleasure.
A quote that stuck in my head as something I was particularly uncomfortable with was “Heterosexual women are often schooled by other women in the art of lying to men as a way to manipulate. Many examples of the support females receive for lying concern the desire to mate and bear children.” (hooks, b. 2001, pg. 43). This and many other comments were so sweeping and narrow-minded that it upset me.
I feel that continuing to generalise genders stops us moving forward, and out-growing these outdated ideals.
Read as part of the Our Shared Shelf bookclub.