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Book Review: all about love: New Visions
Nina Beck /  Mon, 21 Feb 2022

In an ever persistent quest to diversify my book shelf, acclaimed author, feminist, and social activist bell hooks has been on my to-be-read list for some time now. Gloria Jean Watkins, known by her pen name ‘bell hooks,’ was a Black american author known for her works regarding love, race, class, gender, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism. She passed away in December 2021 at the age of sixty-nine, having written around forty books in her lifetime.

I recently picked up one of these books, all about love. The first thing that I noticed was the sheer lack of capital letters on the cover. At the time of her passing, with a rise in hooks’s work being looked at, the question was raised repeatedly: Why is ‘bell hooks’ spelled in all lowercase? She preferred not to capitalize her pen name, which she got from her grandmother, as a way to shift the attention away from her and onto the work itself. It’s a small but powerful demonstration of hooks’s style as an author and human.

The book itself is a fascinating look at love in the modern day. She goes so far as to propose a restructuring of modern-day love in the sense of things such as affection, respect, commitment, and more. She tackles it all with strong effect and I particularly enjoyed her thoughts on the roots of the problems regarding modern day love: gender stereotypes, domination, control, ego, and aggression. It’s a fascinating and mind-opening read, excellent for the non-fiction lover who’s looking for something to think critically about.

In reading her work, I found myself truly marveling that the writing of an author who I find to have such wonderful work, gets most of her wide public recognition only at her passing. So is the case with many authors, hooks included, but the lack of recognition of her work outside of rather specific circles prior to her death is disheartening. There is an endless list of Black authors that receive little recognition outside of names on a list of books to read during Black History Month. While they’ve got a rightful place on those lists, that shouldn’t be all their work is known for. So make the effort to read Black authors all year round, and consider starting with bell hooks’s all about love.