Since the publication of her first book in 2014, The Victorian Guide to Sex, Fern Riddell has established herself as a cultural historian of gender, sex and suffrage in the 19th century. Her new book, published in June this year, Sex - Lessons from History, is an ambitious attempt to look at sex in history and discover what we can learn from it. It is a historiography that turns, at times, into a fascinating polemic about modern times.
For anyone whose exposure to Arabic literature begins and ends with a child-friendly edition of Alf Layla wa Layla, in English 1000 Nights and a Night or The Arabian Nights, it will come as a surprise to hear that there is an ancient, honourable and celebrated – and just as often decried – tradition of erotic writing in Arabic. Further, while the existence of erotica in Arabic sinks in, we might add at this point the additional fact that many exponents of the art form are women. Surprised?
If you’re after a novel that will reassure you of the predictability of love, Alissa Nutting’s contribution probably isn’t for you. It has been a while since I encountered a story so delightfully bizarre that still has something very important to say: a human’s capacity for love is, quite possibly, boundless.
Gay Bar – Why We Went Out is an extraordinary book; part-homage, part-travelogue, part-personal journey and part-essay. It ranges from the bars in San Francisco, who fought to exist, to the bars in Blackpool, filled with hen parties singing along to YMCA. It’s a book that attempts to understand why the gay bar is in decline. Has its role now been eclipsed in cities where homosexuality has become mainstream and where the fight for existence has moved to other territory? Have apps like Grindr ended the need for a physical space for casual male connections?
Benjamin and Edgar Bowen are packed off on their Grand Tour with a guide book written by their mother, who hopes that they will meet people of Quality. They are, of course, innocents abroad, well versed in the Enlightenment ideals of Voltaire but not in the realities of being from the vulgar mercantile class amongst the unforgiving English nobility of the 18th century.
Bear by Marian Engel was first published in 1976. Despite being rejected by Engel’s first publisher, it went on to win the prestigious Governor General’s Award and, despite the controversy caused by the bestiality in the book, is considered a classic in Canada. Margaret Atwood praises it as “a strange and wonderful book, plausible as kitchens, but shapely as a folktale, and with the same disturbing resonance.” Therefore, Daunt Books are republishing Bear in an effort to bring its curious narrative to a new generation of readers and its off-beat story is sure to pique interest.
I’m certainly no petrol head, but I’ve driven a variety of cars in my time. One of these was a Porsche. I’d never driven a sports car before and the first time I got behind its wheel, that massive acceleration took me by surprise: it demanded an effort to keep control. Lelo’s Enigma had pretty much the same effect, however any notion of controlling the intense and totally chaotic orgasm was out of the question.
We’re currently undergoing what most would consider the greatest global trauma of our lifetime. Everyone’s suffered the loss of something, whether it be as devastating and life-altering as a loved one, a job, a home, in-person schooling, childcare, or as trivial as a ritual Friday night dinner with friends, time at the gym, a trip to a faraway place, the ability to walk into a shop.
As audiobooks and podcasts continue to rise in popularity, there are also plenty of platforms for listening to audio erotica — sexy stories read aloud or acted out. Although these websites have been around for some time, they are growing in popularity. Many have taken a different angle on their purpose by appealing to wellness trends of encouraging sexual exploration and relaxation. And a warm voice can bring a sense of company to the many of us enduring isolation as a result of lockdown restrictions.
If there’s one positive thing to take away from being stuck at home 24/7 (and there really is only one thing), it’s that opportunities to have a good ol’ wank have been on the rise. In lieu of being able to actually go out and meet people in order to satisfy certain, er, needs, I’ve been reacquainting myself with…well, myself. Or, at least, that was the case until LELO SILA arrived on my doorstep and I decided to sneak her into my bed.