Here are links to my short ebooks specifically on love, and others I recommend. You can also find the titles on the main ebook retailers’ websites, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel etc.
On Amazon Kindle (80-99 cents):
On Smashwords (free, as at 08 01 16)
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis (72c on Kindle at present) – a classic, and I believe enlightening (Christian though can be taken on a purely logical/psychological level) analysis of love into four main levels or kinds – Natural Affection, Romantic-erotic, Friendship, and Agape or the Divine Love.
Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection Kindle Edition (presently $8.90 (!) A modern research-based report on how it works…
A Christian sermon on love, ‘The Greatest Thing in the World’ by Henry Drummond, , from a hundred years ago, an analysis of Paul’s great passage in First Corinthians 13. It’s quoted in full here: http://henrydrummond.wwwhubs.com/greatest.htm
Then there are all the good books on how to be a loving spouse/partner. The area of romantic love is very well covered in our culture – to a fault. Books like ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ help us get more acquainted with the objects of our intended love. If we really want to love well, we need all the knowledge and awareness we can get – especially when loving those who are so unlike ourselves!
Another in the couples field – but also great for friendship in general I think – is ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman here: The Five Love Languages. Again, Christian but the material makes great sense. Obviously, we in the West owe a lot to Christianity for our understanding of Love. That official Churches have fallen so far short of love is not to say that the New Testament didn’t raise the bar in all our thinking on love. But their belief that it takes conversion and being ‘born again’ to become able to love truly at all seems to fly in the face of experience. There are loving people of all faiths and philosophies, and very unloving ones in all faiths too, as far as I know! Let us just get to trying love out with all the understanding we can, and see how we go… I have always believed (perfect) love to be the fulfilment of all the moral law, and have tried to practice it both as a ‘born again’ Christian (for a few hard years) and then as an agnostic, a pagan, a Platonist (for many more years). It is never easy to learn and unlearn the big things, but when a lasting change has come either as a Christian or as anything else, it has always been through truth, and the understanding of it, not through the alleged miracle of being born again, filled with the Spirit, or any such experience. There have been emotional realisations, epiphanies, and grinding episodes of head-butting against the way things work, but the logic of love is the most powerful of all, and it is not a feeling but a process, a series of positive actions – beginning always with the act of being open to the Other, whoever and whatever it, he or she may be.
What is the greatest obstacle to opening to love? For me, it seems to be fear of the other’s reaction, of rejection – especially in groups. ‘They’ might reject me… If I practice, as I do now, just getting to know the other/s, this fear recedes.
But also there’s another big obstacle, and this needs working on in anyone who wants lasting transformation. I owe this thought to Anthony Robbins in ‘Awaken the Giant Within’. He says the greatest force in determining how we will act is our self-image – who we think we are – what we believe is our identity. So, I think, if we want to be more loving we must redefine ourselves as loving people. This is much easier if we see it as natural, as healthy human functioning, to be able to love and accept love in return.
Finally, I am happy to be able to report that there is a growing movement in psychological research which is documenting the huge positive effects love has in all kinds of ways. ‘Love 2.0’ by Barbara Fredrickson is a book by one such researcher.
Also there are websites on ‘Positive psychology’ which of course talk a fair bit about love. Then there is the Mindfulness movement, driven by some researchers but intensely practical too. They have things like lovingkindness meditations which are similar to my ‘love a stone and then go out from there’ approach.
And this brings me to the Buddhist tradition, which apparently has a lot of lovingkindness meditations, which have become a resource for the mindfulness movement.
At the end of the day, or a lifetime, what matters is the love we have given, and received. One of the books that has some of the most sweeping and beautiful descriptions of the cosmic reality of love is ‘The Bridge across Forever’, a spiritual/romantic novel by Richard Bach. I have to quote this – I hope it inspires you too!
‘The things we own, the places we live, the events of our lives: empty settings. How easy to chase after settings, and forget diamonds! The only thing that matters, at the end of a stay on earth, is how well did we love, what was the quality of our love?
…We’re the bridge across forever, arching above the sea, adventuring for our pleasure, living mysteries for the fun of it, choosing disasters triumphs challenges impossible odds, testing ourselves over and again, learning love and love and LOVE!’