As the temperature begins to dip, like an animal, I feel the need to hibernate. I begin stocking my cabinets with more snacks, more tea, more hot chocolate, and all of the ingredients for baking. I start to collect books, shows and YouTube video essays to binge while cuddled up with my favorite teddy bears.
Most recently I’ve been thinking about love: familial love, platonic love, romantic love, and any other loves that could be. I’ve been thinking about the politics of love, relationship hierarchy, how trauma informs the way one loves, falling in love, staying in love, love as an act of resistance, love in community. So in the spirit of love, I share with you my favorite media about love.
All About Love by bell hooks
At about 280 pages long, this book can easily be finished in a week, or even a weekend. Feminist essayist bell hooks demystifies the definition of love. She critiques capitalistic society and how it breeds a selfish kind of individualism that prevents people from being able to experience being loved and loving others. She also critiques the treatment of children in our society, explaining how children are often treated like second-class citizens. She proposes that in order to create a society of love, we must first give rights to and protect our children.
This book was truly a masterpiece. As someone who has always struggled with feeling and identifying emotions, especially love, this book gave me clarity. It reaffirmed beliefs I’d held, but also blindsided me with ideas about love that I’d never even considered before. The book gave me a sense of healing and closure I’d been searching for. Easily one of my favorite reads this year.
Queer, non-nuclear, non-conformist: Family is what we make it by Sherronda J Brown
If you’re looking for a quick, informative read then look no further than this article by Sherronda J Brown. Brown is a Black, asexual essayist who is no stranger to writing about the ways white supremacy seeps into every crack of our lives. Brown argues that the “nuclear family” is a tool of white supremacy. The delegitimizing and demonizing of other kinds of family and relationship structures makes it so that queer, black, brown, and indigenous folks are unable to receive the same kinds of help and rights as cisgender, heterosexual, white folks in nuclear family structures. Brown argues that family having a legal and rigid definition is unnecessary and that any grouping of people who are committed to caring for each other and call themselves a family are as much of a family as any grouping of blood-related peoples calling themselves a family.
As someone who has a, let’s call it “complicated” relationship with their family, I felt deeply connected to Brown’s argument. While I care for my blood family and understand that they also care for me, more often than not when the word family is said, my friends are who come to mind first (though my parents are close second). Some of the most important people in my life are my friends. When I think of the people who have loved and cared for me the majority are my current friends. This twenty minute read is best to think about in conjunction with the aforementioned bell hooks book.
In the Dream House by Carmen Machado
With only about 272 pages, this experimental memoir novel discusses Machado’s lesbian relationship and the abuse she experienced within this relationship. Rather than a traditional memoir that tells a story about the author's life from beginning to end, Machado uses a collection of personal essays, poems, and some writing that doesn’t neatly fit into any kind of category. She jumps through time taking us back and forth through different situations and times in her life, but the novel still feels like a linear narrative. Throughout the memoir, Macahado dives into the ways that tools of white supremacy (queerphobia, more specifically lesbophobia, racism, misogyny, etc) aided in her feeling of powerlessness in the face of abuse.
After reading Machado’s other work like, Her Body and Other Parties, I was excited to dig into a memoir written by her. The experimental nature of the writing in the memoir made the book so easy to get engrossed in. At some points I would forget that the work I was reading was nonfiction because of how beautifully she constructed the story of her life. Though the content is heavy, the book has a lightness to it that makes it simple to get reading and stay reading.
Violet Evergarden by Kana Akatsuki
This Japanese light novel that turned into a Netflix animated series truly encapsulates the theme of love. Violet Evergarden is an emotionally detached soldier, who loses her arms and captain while on the battlefield. After being discharged from the hospital with new mechanical arms, Violet becomes a ghostwriter. As a ghostwriter she travels to many different places writing letters, books, and whatever else she is asked for as she searches for meaning in the words her captain said to her when he died in her arms.
This show was absolutely beautiful in every way from the visuals down to the storytelling.Violet Evergarden has to be one of my favorite romance shows. Violet was a relatable character and I loved how despite being the main character, it often felt that the show was less about Violet and more about all the people she was encountering. I don’t think any other show has made me cry as much as Violet Evergarden, so before you give this a watch don’t forget to grab a box of tissues.
And of course no recommendation list is complete without a few Honorable Mentions:
No. 6 by Atsuko Asano- A light novel and animated drama series detailing the life of two young boys in a dystopian city-state on the run from the police.
Yuri on Ice by Mitsurou Kubo- A manga and anime romance drama series detailing the life of a male figure skater and his relationship with his coach.
Photo Source: Library & Information Science Academic Blog