Title: All About Love
Author: bell hooks
Pages: 238 pages
Rating 6 out of 5 Crowns
“all about love: new visions” is written by bell hooks. (September 25, 1952-December 15,2021). bell hooks was an author, social activist, and distinguished professor at Berea College. “all about love: new visions” is the first trilogy of “love” by hooks. Other titles include “Salvation: Black People and Love” and “Communion: The Female Search For Love.” ( I am currently reading)
bell hooks put her name in lowercase “to convey that what is most important to focus upon her works, not her personal qualities: the substance of books, not who I am” -bell hooks.
In honor and to show respect to bell hooks, you will say bell hooks name in lowercase.
I must say that “all about love: new visions” is not a self-help book. This book will not guide you to find your perfect stranger and will not tell you the do’s and don’ts of a relationship. “all about love: new vision” is a book that speaks on self-reflection and self-actualization. I say this first because when a book has the title of “love,” it is assumed that it must be about “relationships of the opposite or same sex,” and this is not that book.
Within the 13 chapters and 237 pages, hooks share a lot of insight into love in relationships and loving oneself, the experience of love in community, and the experience of love from the great divine.
In the introduction of “all about love: a new vision,” hooks mentions, “THERE IS NOT many public discussions of love in our culture right now. At best, popular culture is the one domain in which our longing for love is talked about.” she continues by saying “Nowadays the most popular messages are those that declare the meaningless of love, its irrelevance” (hooks, 2022). hooks words were published for “all about love: a new vision” in 2000, but what she is stating is still relevant 23 years later.
Social media is full of posts about people wanting to be in a relationship for various reasons. When a person mentions love, they are seen as being weak and living in a fairytale by “scrollers.” hooks state that this is because we as a culture have not created a personal definition of love; accepting anything from a person or ourselves, and labeling it love causes us to feel cynical about love. In hooks’ words, “it leaves us loveless.”
hooks share her personal experience with love and her study of love to tell us how to go from loveless to beginning the acts of love.
I am on a personal journey to understand better and be more educated about love; this was my first reading on the subject. Here are four essential lessons I learned about love from bell hooks.
Why is it important to define love?
One of the significant gems that hooks discuss in her book is defining a personal definition of love. Not the meaning that we learned back in our youth. According to hooks, “Learning faulty definitions of love when we are quite young makes it difficult to be loving as we grow older” (hooks, 2022). When I read this, my heart and my crowned aligned because I had no true definition of love in my twenties.
The definition I applied was when you love someone; you are there for them no matter what; you make sacrifices to show that you care for them and fight for them in battle and war. My definition of love caused me a lot of pain, heartache, and disappointment in the person I was “loving” and myself.
Before reading “all about love: a new vision,” I shared on my podcast that my definition of love in my twenties is not how I want to define it in my thirties and going forth. I don’t have the ‘ride or die” energy. And that is okay.
What foundation do we need to start with to define love?
According to hooks, “to truly love, we must learn to mix various ingredients-care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust as well as honest and open communication” (hooks, 2022). Did you notice that hook did not base her definition solely on the word care? hooks add more to her meaning than “care” because someone can care for you deeply and passionately but not love you.
I remember hearing “but I care about you” in my relationships, but no action of love was displayed. I thought they must love me because they cared about me. hooks speak about not feeling love in her family, but she felt cared for. We can think of a time when we believed that someone’s care was connected with love.
To avoid anchoring our ship in shallow waters, we must add characteristics other than the word care when creating our definition of love.
Guess what? You have a choice.
“And the two fell in love and lived happily ever after” is the phrase we heard growing up reading fairytales; that phrase planted a seed in our hearts that “falling’ in love is the only option when meeting someone, even if they do not meet the definition of love.
I love how hooks explain “fallen in love” it is simple and accurate; she states, “the language of having ‘fallen’ gives the illusion that one is helpless during the process. It implicitly indicates that an individual cannot be responsible for the situation, nor should they be. They have fallen, and that’s that” (hooks, 2022).
This illusion can leave us in unhealthy relationships, believing that “falling out” of the relationship is not an option.
Even loving ourselves is a choice; we don’t fall into self-care and self-love. We chose it, the same practice we must apply when we feel our emotions going on ten. We have to ask ourselves, is this a “fall” or a “choice.?
How do we know if our definition of love is love?
The only way of knowing if our definition of love is love is to practice daily the actions we deem as love to ourselves. hooks state, “Self-love is the foundation of our loving practice” (hooks, 2022). We must apply our definition of love to ourselves.
How can we ask for care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, trust, and honest and open communication from a stranger if we are not providing these things to ourselves? Self-love is something that I continue to work on. I often tell people my relationship with myself is the most challenging one I am in now. But I am willing to do the work that way; the person I choose to love is adding to the investment of my love in me, not me looking for someone to love me, and I am emotionally bankrupt.
In the words of hooks, “Do not expect to receive love from someone else you do not give yourself ” (hooks, 2022).
By the end of the last page of “all about love: new vision,” I concluded that love is an action and, most importantly, love starts with the “self.” So often, we compromise ourselves, our values, and our worth to attach ourselves to someone else and call it some form of love. Situations like this have often happened to me in relationships, friendships, and family relationships.
bell hooks have given me the gems and the reminders that I come first; the action of love starts with the act of loving me.
In reading this “Book and Bloom,” I hope you are encouraged to redefine a personal definition of self-love and choose to put that definition of love into action, starting with yourself.
Hooks, B. (2022). All about love: New visions. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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