Love as a Way of Life (by Gary Chapman)

I've been generally quite impressed by books written by Gary Chapman. He's an American Christian author, known as an expert on relationships and family life, probably best known for 'The Five Love Languages'. I've enjoyed several of his books, so when I saw an inexpensive version of this one for the Kindle, I decided - for once - to pay a few pounds to download it.

'Love as a way of life' gives a solid foundation for the principles of expressing love to other people, both those we care for, and people we meet randomly. It's written from a Christian perspective, as our Chapman's other books, but in a fairly low-key way so that the theory and suggestions could be applicable to anyone.

The author proposes that the main methods of behaving in a loving way those around us include kindness, forgiveness, courtesy, and honesty. All rather obvious, yet it seems that most people display only one or two of these and need a refresher course in ways to show more love and acceptance to those around them. He gives plenty of anecdotes showing examples of love expressed - or, sometimes, not expressed - in various ways, and the consequences to those involved.

The first part of the book gives reasons why Gary Chapman believes that love in the most general sense is vitally important, and why we need more of it. He then takes one of his suggested methods at a time, and expands on what he believes they encompass. He gives scales of 'kindness' and 'honesty' and so on, asking the reader to evaluate themselves and their lives in the past week or two; I didn't find those particularly useful as they were very general. More helpful was various practical ways of going about showing each of these aspects of love.

I don't think there was anything new or life-changing in this book. It took me six weeks to read it, not because it was dull or difficult, but because a few pages at a time were sufficient to provoke a bit of thought - and also because it wasn't a page-turning kind of book. I suppose I was a bit disappointed, in comparison to other books of his that I have read where the theories were indeed relevant and inspiring. I'm not sure that I recall any specifics from it, although my overall feeling was that it was a fairly good read.

I think 'Love as a way of life' is probably worth reading if you can borrow it, or pick it up inexpensively, even if it doesn't offer anything particularly new.

(Links are to the paperback versions of the book; Kindle editions are also available in both the UK and the USA).

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 2nd December 2011

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