Format: eBook (Kindle)
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Self-help, Non-fiction
Date of Publication: 30th January, 2018
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
All About Love was the book of the month for September in the book club hosted by Rashi. We read woman-centric books and focus on non-fiction as much as fiction. In August we read THUG and in July, When I Hit You. As a person who needs an extra push towards the non-fiction genre, I was glad that I found it here.
“All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In thirteen concise chapters, Hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, Hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.
Visionary and original, Hooks shows how love heals the wounds we bear as individuals and as a nation, for it is the cornerstone of compassion and forgiveness and holds the power to overcome shame.“
I am not usually a fan of self-help books and non-fiction does not usually excite me. This book is a combination of both of those genres and reiterated to me why I prefer to stay away from them. The book is divided into thirteen chapters on different kinds of love and how they play a role in the growth of a person. While this concept seemed interesting to me, I was sorely disappointed in its execution. The author was repetitive and self-centered and I was tired of all the self-praise that I saw throughout the book. I do realise that the book is the manifestation of the author’s life experience but I would have loved to read more of the author’s loses and not just her triumphs. It would have definitely made the book more believable to me.
In the introduction, the author says “When a woman over 40 talks about love, the sexist thinking is that she is ‘desperate for a man'”. I see this in every walk of life. Any woman who does not have a man in her life after a particular age is dubbed ‘frustrated’ and her every action is linked to not being happily in love. When was it decided that a woman requires a man in her life for happiness? Not everyone’s goal in life is to snare a man. This kind of thinking needs to stop before the society can make any real progress.
Later, in the first chapter, the author says “learning faulty definitions of love when we are quite young makes it difficult to be loving when we are older”. This is one of the chapters that I liked in the book. It opens a lot of dialogues like the counter-productiveness of teaching children that a boy who pulls a girl’s hair or pushes her down in the playground is only doing it because he likes her. Both boys and girls must be taught the right way to express their feelings and to stop the destructive behaviour before it becomes the norm. I liked how the author explains that when we invest feelings and emotions in a person, we form a cathexis which makes us believe that we love them even when they hurt or neglect us. The thought of ‘I have invested so much time and energy into this relationship to just give up on it’ is one of the reasons that many people stay in an unsatisfying relationship. The quicker the people realise that time is wasted in such relationships the better.
My favourite thing in this chapter was when the author said, “care is a dimension of love but simply giving care does not mean we are loving”. Care is just one of the properties of love and not love itself. It is very important to realise this especially when faced with a narcissist who appears to be caring but in reality, is only manipulating the expression of love.
What I did not agree with is the author’s claims that two parenting figures are necessary for the child to appeal to the second parent regarding any misunderstanding or miscommunication. But this goes against all the popular parenting theories which claim that the parents need to present a united front when making any decision for the child. If we are to use the author’s theory, how does one parent not undermine the other? I also did not like how the author gave an example of fixing the problem regarding a friend’s daughter’s allowance. It was an isolated and rare incident that not many others can emulate. Not every mother would allow a friend to determine things like giving an allowance to her child. This is another example of how the author used exemplary instances of her life to generalise rules for the readers.
I loved how the author pointed out that the power and privilage are accorded to men simply because they are males with a patriarchal culture. With the very essence of feminism being threatened every day, this is a very important statement that all of us would do well to remember. However, I certainly did not agree with the author when she claimed that women gossip more than men. Even with the reason that she gave, it does not give her the right to make such claims especially when surveys like the ones conducted by Telegraph and Daily Mail in the UK say the opposite.
The concept that most workers do not do the work that they love but we can all enhance our capacity to live purposely by learning how to experience satisfaction in whatever work we do was interesting. I will try to emulate it to my work but I think that it will be easier said than done in the present day work culture and the pressure that we are all under.
Bell Hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern female perspective, she has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.
TL;DR: A thought provoking read which you will need to take your time with
What are some of your favourite non-fiction reads?
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