Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Authentic Lover: Reclaiming Love's Beauty and Power is a nonfiction book on Relationships, Gender and Sexuality written by Chris Hakim. Hakim is a long-time student of Buddhism as well as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to the author, loving and harmonious relationships face challenges in the form of "the four great enemies...violence, pettiness, vanity and our reproductive agenda." He posits the following four virtues of “gentleness, grace, charm and mystery” as those things which can be developed to overcome the enemies of love. Hakim presents studies on religious and cultural traditions to help readers explore and more fully understand each of the traditional enemies and their respective virtues, and gain insights on how our cultural and habitual responses and expectations can be recognized and modified where warranted. He does not seek to impose his views upon the reader; rather, he encourages reflection and an awareness of what he/she can accomplish, given the guidance, "the scaffolding of ideas, a road map" provided within his text. Each of the four sections of his work concludes with suggested topics for contemplation which address the issues covered and serve to summarize the pertinent concepts. Hakim also includes a List of Reprint Permissions, Endnotes, and an extensive Bibliography.
Chris Hakim's non-fiction book on Relationships, Gender and Sexuality, The Authentic Lover: Reclaiming Love's Beauty and Power, is a rigorously researched and fascinating look at love throughout the ages. He examines each of the four great enemies with the dispassionate gaze of the anthropologist to enable the reader to likewise cast aside his cultural preconceptions and view love and relationships through a different lens. I particularly enjoyed seeing Hakim's analysis of courtly love in his second section of Pettiness and Grace, and couldn't help but smile at his subsection entitled: How to kiss like in the movies. Hakim's discussion of the matriarchal society of the Tuareg was also enlightening and well-suited to the surrounding discussion. The Contemplation suggestions at the end of each chapter are brilliant! I found they helped anchor the preceding material in my mind and guided my continuing awareness and utilization of the concepts presented. This thought-provoking and beautifully presented text is a treasure-house of lore on how to best build a deep and enduring relationship with a loved one. The Authentic Lover: Reclaiming Love's Beauty and Power is most highly recommended.