Best Sex Writing 2010 - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Alan & Michele

Best Sex Writing 2010

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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Stimulation for the Mind

This highly entertaining collection of 25 non-fiction essays covers numerous sexual topics in a tone that ranges from the delightfully daring to the intellectually informative. This isn't erotica though, so readers looking for steamy "sex scenes" should look elsewhere.
A wide variety of subjects, interesting, informative, and entertaining.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

Content / Style / Audience

The book's cover, with its provocative graphics and over-sized text announcing "Best Sex Writing 2010", beckoned us to expect tales full of hot erotic sex. But that's not what editor Rachel Kramer Bussel had in mind when she put together this intriguing collection. This book isn't meant to arouse the genitals (though depending on your tastes that may be a side effect of reading some of the selections) but instead it's meant to stimulate the mind. That's precisely what Best Sex Writing 2010 did, and precisely why we enjoyed it.

It's clear from the very beginning that every one of the 25 works were written by open-minded individuals who aren't afraid to think outside of traditional boundaries when it comes to human sexuality. Most use a down-to-earth style that's easy for a reader to understand and very possibly relate to, and all come across as sex-positive.

In "The Girl Who Only Sometimes Said No" Diana Joseph takes offense at her teenage son's callous labeling of one of the girls in his yearbook, which leads her down a reflective path of her own slutty years. This was one of our agreed-upon favorites, because it's not only entertaining but also very thought-provoking in regards to the way many in our society regard female sexuality.

We chuckled at John Thursday's lively play with modern sexual vocabulary in "A Cunning Linguist, " particularly when it took on a Dr. Seuss-like cadence with this line: "You can spank a skank or snog a bird, but snogging a skank will leave you quite rank."

It’s doubtful that anyone who reads Ellen Friedrichs‘ “Sex Laws That Can Really Screw You” will come away feeling anything less than disturbed. In it she exposes some of the most poorly thought-out laws that govern sexuality in America. You might think you‘re an upstanding citizen, but depending on where you live you may be breaking the law by educating your teen about sex or even by just “dressing in a manner not becoming to his or her sex.”

In "Secrets of the Phallus: Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?" Jesse Bering not only answers the question, but also boggles the mind with a related theoretical scenario detailing how you might get pregnant by a man you never slept with.

Race play in the BDSM scene, what a man really wants, threesomes, Tijuana bibles, voyeurism, gay/lesbian lifestyles, dating while breastfeeding, pining for pubic hair... all of that and more can be found within these pages. The essays were as diverse in their approach as they were in subject matter, with some having a more journalistic flair to them and others reading more like personal memoirs.

The book offers enough variety that it would be easy for anyone of any sex or sexual orientation to find something enjoyable in it. Of course we didn't find every single essay to be to our likings, but that's the beauty of a such a diverse anthology; if something doesn't appeal to you, just flip to something that does.

Twenty of the twenty five works have been previously published, in books, magazines, or online, so if you read a lot of this sort of thing don't be surprised if something is familiar to you.


Larger than a standard novel, this glossy-covered paperback is put together well, with a tight binding and pages that are about the thickness of a textbook's. There are no graphics inside.

There is a cover page with enough space to write a "To" and "From" message on, which you may find yourself doing since the book is certainly nice enough to be given as a gift. The table of contents is neatly arranged and easy to navigate, followed by an Introduction written by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Unlike some books, we would suggest that you not skip the Intro, because it really sets the mood for the rest of the writings.

The essays range from about 3 to 20 pages each, printed in clean text of a size that is easy to read. The great thing about them being so short is that even if you have a busy schedule that doesn't allow much time for reading, you can enjoy the writings a little at a time and in any order you please.

In the back of the book there are sections that give brief biographies of each of the authors and editor, and a Permissions page that tells where each of the reprinted pieces were published before.


Alan says:
I didn't think I'd like this much when I found out it wasn't erotica, but there was something about the general tone of the book that lured me into that first story and kept me reading. Even the works that delved into topics I wouldn't normally find interesting were well-written enough that I enjoyed them. There were a couple that I found to be a bit dry, one of which was also long-winded, but the rest of them more than made up for it.

Michele says:
If variety is the spice of life, then this would have to be one of the spiciest books of the year. It was just so diverse in every way that it would be impossible not to like something. And I loved the collective attitude of the authors who wrote the more personal stories. It was like "Here I am, here's what I think or want. No apologies." Brilliant!
Reviewing as a couple isn't always easy for us, because there are times when we disagree, but what we both agree on with Best Sex Writing 2010 is this; It's an interesting, informative and entertaining read that we would recommend to pretty much anyone.
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  • Boobs and Lubes
    good review as usual, good example of reviewing
  • Sammi
    Sounds very interesting
    Good review!
  • ......
    Great review you two!
  • Alan & Michele
    Thank you
  • Airen Wolf
    I've read some of the articles/essays you mention in other areas, that they are included in this anthology makes it appealing to say the least! Wish list item!
    Excellent review.
  • El-Jaro
    Great review you two!
  • C4ss
    I want to read this one. Thanks for the review.
  • AmandaA
    Great review!
  • amandaco2011
    Thanks for the review. I'm always on the hunt for intellectually stimulating material.
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