We're taught to think of love as something that happens to us. It's a magical but altogether passive experience. In her deeply personal and emphatic All about Love, renowned social activist and feminist bell hooks asserts that, in fact, love is a choice we must all make and it's not nearly as abstract or elusive as many of us have come to believe. The book not only explores the role of love in our lives and the ways our culture has distorted its meaning, but guides us — with clear definitions and examples — toward a better understanding of how to cultivate it. If you've ever wondered why some relationships stand the test of time while others crumble, you should read this book. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"The word 'love' is most often defined as a noun, yet... we would all love to better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love
. Here, at her most provacative and intensely personel, 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.
From one of America's most revered thinkers offers radical new ways to think about love, and examines the relationship between love and sexuality, and the connections between the public and the private.
About the Author
Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life," she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is the author of more than 17 books, including All About Love: New Visions; RememberedRapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.
Reading Group Guide
For those confounded and intrigued by the nature of love, "All About Love unravels its meaning and explores the ways in which it is most often undervalued, ignored, and misunderstood. With unwavering insight, clarity, and candor, bell hooks offers radical new visions of love and its force in our lives. Exploring love in its many incarnations, cultural critic and feminist theorist bell hooks challenges some of our most deeply held assumptions and reveals the potential of a life-changing reassessment of love.
"All About Love reveals the ways in which love can transform us both personally and culturally, how -- through love -- we possess the power to end conflicts within ourselves and within our communities. Hooks asserts that it is never too late to return to love, to speak with our hearts. The power of such transformation resides within each of us.
Questions for Discussion
In the preface, hooks writes, "love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak" (p. xi). What does this mean?
hooks describes the inspiration and solace she finds in graffiti art declaring, "The search for love continues even in the face of great odds" (p. xv). Where have you found similar signs that have restored your faith in love?
Historically, how have the demands of love for women been different from those for men? How have they differed for adults and children? What does hooks suggest about these distinctions?
Discuss the way in which hooks uses her personal experience throughout this book. How does her personal experience enhance her assertions? Which vignette do you find particularly meaningful?
hooks describes the allure oflying in relation to the allure of power. What are the lies you tell to feel powerful? How do our concepts of power -- born from the patriarchal culture we inhabit -- keep us from love? What role does greed play and where does it come from?
hooks probes the gap between the values many people "claim to hold and their willingness to do the work of connecting thought and action, theory and practice" (p. 90). How does our culture reward those who nurture this gap? What changes would we have to make in society to nurture and inspire the closing of this gap?
If we must sacrifice "our old selves in order to be changed by love" (p. 188), what is it that we're giving up?
Although she warns against attempting to return to the past rather than forging ahead, hooks advocates repairing and restoring family bonds. Why is this an important goal? How do these bonds enable us to live with love in all areas of our lives?
What are the political ramifications of hooks's visions of love? Is love a political issue?
Look over the chapter titles in "All About Love. If you were to add a chapter, what would it be?
Why do we fear love? Are we more afraid of surrendering ourselves to love or of living without love? What sacrifices does love require? What relief and salve can love offer? Is it possible to be too damaged, too wounded to love?
How has "All About Love enhanced, contradicted, challenged, altered your vision of love?
About the Author: Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by "The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of "Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is acharismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books, including "All About Love: New Visions; Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.