Book Reviews

Recent posts

What a Fashion Publicist Can Teach You About Sex

In an effort to not forget some of the wise advice I’ve read over the past year, I’ve recently been rereading certain chapters of books I’ve flagged on my bookshelf. (Side note: Never borrow a book from me; they’re all marked up with pen and flagged with neon Post-it notes.)

Getting to the point: I was rereading Kelly Cutrone’s book, Normal Gets You Nowhere, and forgot how completely fantastic (not to mention hysterical!) her second chapter is. The title? “THE KELLA-SUTRA: If You’re Not Getting Fucked by Midnight, Go Home.” Continue Reading →

Book Review Of Violation: Rape In Gaming

Maybe you don’t think of the words “rape” and “gaming” being used together very often, but according to Clarisse Thorn and Julian Dibbell, co-editors of a new anthology, perhaps you should. They recently released Violation: Rape in Gaming as an e-book and paperback, and as we MSP readers know to expect from Clarisse’s other work, this is a thought-provoking foray into the collisions between sexuality and subcultures. Thorn’s introduction reflecting on game rape, feminism, S&M, and selfhood is one of the highlights of the book, giving readers some framing terms and concepts to accompany us through the rest of the essays. Thorn describes her involvement with feminism and with the BDSM/S&M/kink communities, and she draws some intriguing connections between the use of negotiated boundaries and safewords in BDSM and consensual reality in role-playing games (such as how the Mind’s Eye Theater system of role-playing emphasizes player boundaries even in horrifying in-game situations). Thorn also gives a history of gaming starting with tabletop role-playing games like D&D, and moving up through LARPs, MUDs, and MMOs. Continue Reading →

Review of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman

I’ve heard a fair bit about The 5 Love Languages—usually recommendations and praise—so I decided to check it out for myself. My partner and I took turns reading it to each other on a fairly epic road trip, and we agreed that it was a generally useful and interesting read, though with a few drawbacks. Chapman’s premise, based on his years of experience as a marriage counselor, is that people intuitively gravitate toward one of five ways of expressing and interpreting love and affection. Couples run into problems when they’re speaking different love languages to each other, leading to complaints that “he/she doesn’t really love me.” In actuality, according to Chapman, they just need to learn each other’s love languages in order to start communicating in a way that will be received as loving and caring. Continue Reading →

Book Review: Perfect Combination by Jamillah and David Lamb

In their recent book Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together, authors Jamillah and David Lamb describe “their recipe for romantic success” though anecdotes and insights they’ve gained from their decade-long marriage. Not only are the authors married to one another, they also work together as co-producers on their off-Broadway play Platanos Y Collard Greens. Throughout the book, they use cooking as a metaphor for building a successful relationship (hence the Key Ingredients in the title and the Dutch oven on the cover). While I found some of the examples a bit cheesy (e.g. 1 Cup of Forgiveness and 1 Tablespoon of Humor), overall I think authors did a fine job of making simple that which is often complicated. Continue Reading →

Book Review: Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser

Longtime MSP readers will know that we are big fans of Clarisse Thorn’s writing: she intelligently tackles important sex topics such as BDSM, sexual submission, open relationships, and sex-positivity. So we of course were super-excited when her book, Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, came out (available on Amazon and Smashwords and in paperback). Clarisse guides readers through her discovery of and interactions with the pickup community, explaining relevant concepts from feminism along the way. In fact, the book is so packed with anecdotes about her interactions as well as interesting ideas that she concludes each chapter with a tl;dr summary (for those of you who don’t live on the internet, “tl;dr” stands for “too long; didn’t read” and indicates that if you skipped the main content, you can get a tidy summary). So, my tl;dr summary of this book is that it’s a fascinating exploration of one sex subculture – pickup artistry – through the lens of another few subcultures – BDSM, open relationships, geek culture, and sex-positive feminism – which Clarisse puts into dialogue with one another. Continue Reading →

Sex At Dawn: Book Review

Sex at Dawn (available on Amazon) is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a while… and I read a lot. I feel that it’d be difficult to do this book justice, as it covers an expansive range of topics related to human sexuality, so I’ll try to summarize its main points and touch on some of my favorite tidbits. Short version, though, is that this book is a magnificent rethinking of human sexuality in light of recent (and not-so-recent) research that suggests that humans are far more generous and able to have fulfilling sexual relationships than we’re lead to believe. The authors, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, promise in the beginning to reveal what is wrong with current conceptions of monogamy and why, to tell us “how seismic cultural shifts that began about ten thousand years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists, and covered up by moralizing therapists.” Continue Reading →

Review of Jonathan’s Engel’s “The Epidemic”

As promised, here is my review of The Epidemic:

The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS promises two things in its title: to explore HIV/AIDS both from a global and from an historical perspective.  This promise of comprehensive coverage is met with aplomb as Engel takes us on a dizzying tour of the trajectory of HIV/AIDS.  Starting with its alleged origins in Africa, he traces the vectors of the disease into the gay population in the U.S., on to IV drug users, then back across the ocean to talk about how it currently affects the developing areas of Africa and Asia.  Along the way, he discusses the politics, civil rights issues, and how the disease actually works.  Engel approaches issues from all angles, making sure all dissenting opinions and seemingly crackpot theories are mentioned.  He debunks myths, gives proper credit for important advances, and attempts to keep a neutral tone while discussing these hot-button issues. Continue Reading →

Book Review: Nonviolent Communication

“Communication is the key to great sex.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this…well, insert your favorite joke here. But it’s true. We humans are complicated social animals who require linguistic transparency and precision to get the quality of connection with others that we want. However, I find it frustrating how often the value of relationship communication is distilled to a sound bite, without offering any strategies or tools to actually achieve it. Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Sexy Book Of Sexy Sex

I came well prepared for my trans-Pacific flight back to Melbourne last week: fully charged Nintendo DS, travel pillow, and several books. I was in the mood to read, but what book should I choose? Do I pull out the chaste Agatha Christie novel, or The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex? The seat next to me was empty (FTW!) so I scanned the seats around me for small, literate children who could ask uncomfortable questions about the cover of my scandalous read. I should mention that the dust jacket of The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex is worth the price of the book alone. Continue Reading →