A new generation of readers embraces bell hooks’ ‘All About Love’

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In nan summertime of 2022, Emma Goodwin was getting complete a breakup and reasoning difficult astir her life and really to amended herself. She decided to effort a book she had heard astir often, bell hooks’ “All About Love: New Visions.”

“I loved it. It takes earnestly a taxable that is scoffed astatine successful celebrated culture, that a batch of group spot arsenic silly,” says Goodwin, 26, a societal media coordinator who lives successful Philadelphia. “What has stuck pinch maine complete nan past mates of years since I publication it is nan thought that to beryllium a loving personification is thing you person to activity astatine and not thing that comes naturally.”

Brianna Pippen, a ocular creator successful nan Washington, D.C. area, has publication “All About Love” a mates times, and values it for really it explores not conscionable romanticist love, but families and friends and relationships successful general. Tiffany Stewart, a writer and shaper successful Los Angeles, first publication “All About Love” 2 years agone pinch her reference group and reread it recently.

Just from nan book’s introduction, she knew it was going to “crack open” her mind and alteration everything she had believed.

“We’ve ever been told that emotion should conscionable consciousness good. It should beryllium fluffy and ray and easy. And that intends you’re looking astatine nan media type of love,” she said.

Published by William Morrow and Company successful 2000, “All About Love” endures arsenic a word-of-mouth favourite — nan benignant of book that continues to beryllium publication and discussed moreover without immoderate breaking news event, movie tie-in aliases publicity campaign. Friends urge it to friends. Fans station astir it connected Instagram and TikTok and reappraisal it connected Goodreads, wherever much than 190,000 members person included it connected their to-read list.

 Bell HooksBell Hooks during question and reply for her caller book, connected Jan. 20, 1999.Margaret Thomas / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

According to Circana, which tracks astir 85% of beingness book sales, “All About Love” sold much than 170,000 copies successful 2023, compared to conscionable complete 27,000 successful 2018. Morrow editor Rachel Kahan cites the execution of George Floyd successful 2020 as a turning point, though income were already rising.

“I deliberation this is 1 of those situations wherever nan book’s been astir a while and nan civilization rises up to meet it,” says Kahan, who was moving pinch hooks astatine nan clip of her death, successful December 2021. A fewer months before, Kahan had told nan writer that “All About Love” made The New York Times bestseller list.

“We were benignant of laughing and crying,” nan editor said. “She was truthful excited that nan book was getting each this attraction from readers and influencing nan conversation.”

Scholars of hooks invited nan precocious feminist’s ongoing popularity, but immoderate interest that readers are gaining only a selective knowing of her, viewing her much arsenic a self-help writer than arsenic a governmental and societal thinker.

The pen sanction for Gloria Jean Watkins, doorbell hooks helped popularize nan thought of “intersectionality,” a conception coined by Black civilian authorities advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw, also known for her activity connected nan conception of captious title theory. Intersectionality holds that racism, sexism and economical inequality reenforce each different and style (and distort) nan ways we spot ourselves, and each other.

Author of much than 30 books, hooks explored everything from nan lasting effect of slavery connected Black women to nan nonaccomplishment of achromatic feminists to activity much intimately pinch their Black contemporaries. In her lifetime, she was often cited for nan 1981 book “Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism,” its title taken from nan memoir of 19th period abolitionist Sojourner Truth.

She wrote often astir love, family and community, but wrong nan model of a nine that hooks saw arsenic isolating america and mounting america against each other. In “All About Love,” she rejected nan “dangerous narcissism” of New Age thinkers, and contended that emotion had been distorted by “our obsession pinch powerfulness and commodity.” The problem often began astatine home, she wrote, wherever excessively galore children were subjected to “chaos, neglect, maltreatment and coercion.”

“There tin beryllium nary emotion without justice,” hooks wrote. “Until we unrecorded successful a civilization that not only respects but besides upholds basal civilian authorities for children, astir children will not cognize love.”

M. Shadee Malaklou, who directs nan doorbell hooks halfway astatine Berea College successful Berea, Kentucky, wherever hooks taught complete nan last decade and a half of her life, says that immoderate find it “convenient to flatten retired a feminist of color.”

“bell was ne'er depoliticized,” she says. “For bell, nan emotion she talks astir is simply a emotion for justice. ‘All About Love’ is simply a emotion missive to justice.”

Stewart said she recovered that “All About Love” had some a individual and governmental message, aligning nan “individual journey” pinch nan ”communal and societal one.” We are affected connected galore levels by “this hyper-individualistic power and impermanent satisfaction,” Stewart added, and nan book “teaches america to deliberation extracurricular of ourselves, which is important because we can’t get done life without 1 another.”

The writer was successful her mid-40s and had been publishing books for 20 years erstwhile she signed pinch William Morrow for “All About Love,” nan first of a “Love Song to nan Nation” trilogy that besides included “Communion” and “Salvation.” The original editor of “All About Love,” Doris Cooper, says she and hooks would activity connected nan book astatine nan author’s Greenwich Village apartment.

“I retrieve really beautiful that flat was, and that is was truthful light-filled. And erstwhile I look back, I deliberation that was not insignificant. doorbell believed successful beautiful things arsenic a practice of emotion towards oneself,” says Cooper, now vice president and editor-in-chief of Simon Element, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

“One day, I was stepping successful nan Village pinch her, and we passed a small jewelry store. She admired thing successful location and she bought it for herself. I was really struck by nan thought of buying yourself jewelry.”

Lily Edelman-Gold, who lives successful Monterey, California, and useful for nan state’s power commission, was going done a clip of “intense loneliness” erstwhile she borrowed a transcript of “All About Love” from a friend, and wrote down favourite passages successful a notebook. She responded to hooks’ insistence that emotion was much a verb than a noun, an enactment of will arsenic opposed to an absurd ideal. Edelman-Gold besides recovered herself discovering love’s once-hidden presence.

“It was almost arsenic though I could consciousness each nan emotion successful my life wrapping itself astir me, filling maine up and making itself known,” Edelman-Gold said. “The differences betwixt romanticist and familial aliases friendship-based emotion had abruptly gotten overmuch smaller and little consequential. I realized that I had been conflating emotion and romance, arsenic she says galore do, and assuming that emotion needs to travel from nan aforesaid root arsenic friendly and romanticist satisfaction.

“It has allowed maine to admit nan nosy and happiness intimacy tin bring without nan anticipation that it besides provides each nan emotion successful my life.”

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The Associated Press

The Associated Press