The New Topping Book

Book by Greenery Press

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Bottom Reviews Topping Book

Overall, I found myself repeatedly loving two things about this book: its emphasis on the connection between top and bottom, that fucking hot dynamic that makes power exchange so worthwhile, and its examples of scenes with detailed descriptions of bottoms' reactions and what they could mean. The best tops are empathetic tops, because they are tuned in to what their bottoms feel and want and need, and this book tries to show tops how to cultivate empathy in a perfectly sexy, toppy way.
Published:
Pros:
Something for everyone, no matter how experienced
Emphasizes empathy & top/bottom dynamic
Cons:
Understates "just do it!" possibilities
Some may find it too basic and boring
Rating by reviewer:
4
extremely useful review

About author

The authors are well-known names in kinky, dykey circles in particular. I hadn't read any of their stuff in full before, though I'd read excerpts from both The Bottoming Book and The Topping Book over the years. They have decades of experience to bring to the table, and they're generous about sharing that experience in the pages of this book. Sometimes I found them a little too cutesy, but hey, the way they talk about their kink doesn't have to be the way I talk about mine.
    • Expert author
    • Multiple contributoring authors
    • Very personal approach

Content / Style / Audience

The (New) Topping Book is very much a basics book, and furthermore, it's not so much a basic technique book, but a book on the basics of the dynamics of topping. However, I don't think that means it's only appropriate for "beginners" to read; in fact, I was really into having both my partners (at the time I was reading), who are both tops, read it after I was done. The strength of this book is that it's not about where to aim your riding crop, or how to get your bottom to take more sting. It's about how to create yourself as a top, about how to build your top persona and power, about how to connect with your bottom and engage that relational energy that, for me, is the essential core of topping/bottoming dynamics. I think tops of most experience levels would find something here, at least a refresher of a technique or warning sign or potential that they haven't thought about in awhile.

The writing style is quite intimate and approachable. It's written like the authors are chatting with you over coffee, complete with winks and sly asides that for me bordered on cheesy excess, but that didn't really detract from the book and probably wouldn't bother most readers. I appreciated that the book consciously uses examples of scenes that are man-woman, man-man, and woman-woman, though in future versions, the authors may want to include some folks who go by gender neutral pronouns. The book is also careful not to reinforce gendered myths/stereotypes around who bottoms, who tops, who can tolerate what intensities and types of pain, etc.

The examples they gave were really excellent not just because they were often hot, but also because they carefully describe the reactions the bottoms in the scenes had, and often offered interpretations of what those could mean - for example, a bottom who's wiggling away from you is probably one who's near or at the end of his tolerance for whatever you're doing to him. Not that all bottoms will respond the same way to a given stimulus, and not that the book could possibly substitute for one's own careful, attentive observation, but I think having some hints about body language and responses are good to have, especially for tops who aren't as naturally good at taking nonverbal cues. There's a MUST-READ list of signs to watch for when topping on page 64.

The content is really broad, and an excellent intro to most aspects of BDSM. It touches on everything from "what is a top?" to intense psychological play (they call it "shadow play"), play that touches on personal or social trauma, from childhood sexual abuse to institutionalized racism and slavery. It touches on the potential of BDSM as everything from something fun to throw into your mostly vanilla sex life once in awhile to a major way to work through painful experiences, to explore your psyche, or to spiritually expand your mind and connect with your partner.
    • Bdsm

Design

First, it's distinctive. If you're a secretive type, you may not be comfortable reading it on public transport--that cover is recognizable from the opposite side of the metro car to anyone with any basic familiarity with kink writing. However, people who haven't already seen The Topping Book may not recognize it, or immediately figure out what it's about. From a quick glance, no one would guess it's full of kink advice, unless they read the title and had time to notice the little drawing of a top in a leather vest with a whip in the O.

The layout is great - text is comfortably spaced but not ridiculously huge, it's attractively formatted and tidy, and content alternates smoothly with "interludes," which are basically example scenes real people have played, and are set off from the main text by a sans serif font.
    • Small size

Personal comments

As a bottom, I'd really recommend it to tops. I kept reading and being like, mhm, yes, order me one of those, please.

One side effect of the authors having so much time in the scene is that they've seen a lot of shit go wrong, particularly with new tops, so they're very firm and strong on the point that tops must practice, practice, practice on inanimate objects and so forth until they're perfect before taking it to their bottom. This is true very, very often, and I understand the impetus to state it forcefully and frequently - we don't want novice tops running off with heavy floggers and getting dangerous. However, the way they write about SM in my opinion understates the range of "just do it" that's possible.

As a bottom, I've had great luck with an approach that's more like "I want you to hit me. Think you could try that?" and with a spanking or a slap across the face, there's really not tons that can go severely wrong. Even with a belt whipping, you're pretty safe, assuming your partner is smart enough not to try whacking you with the buckle side (which I'd hope they are). The authors are right to emphasize that BDSM stuff can be really dangerous, but I think they could balance that with a bit more...seize the moment, seize the opportunity, seize your partner's desire, even if you haven't practiced it a million times and might fuck it up a little! Someone who wants to get hit can deal if you hit them one time too many or in slightly the wrong place, as long as you are understanding, sweet, concerned for their well-being, and willing to take critique humbly. That said, they do finish off the book by saying that BDSM is about taking risks - and if you never fuck up, you probably aren't taking enough.
This product was provided at a discounted price in exchange for an unbiased review. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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Comments
  • Mrs.Tee
    Mrs.Tee  
    Great Review!!
  • TheHardOne
    TheHardOne  
    Great review. Do you have The New Bottoming Book too?
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