Erotic Lives: Memoir and Biography

Each human life is a creation, a work of art. Some lives, like some canvases, illuminate and enlighten through the clarity of the creator's vision. In this section we have selected memoirs and biographies in which sexuality and eroticism play a large role.

In her book Sex Is Not a Natural Act, psychologist Lenore Tiefer explains that, for humans, sexuality is learned behavior, not instinctual as in most animals. This means that humans must learn how to do sex; making love doesn't just come naturally.

The problem is that in Western culture there aren't many very good ways to learn how to make love. All the other skills we deem important for adults to know how to do (reading, math, driving, social norms, making friends, getting along with people, work skills) are learned through years of schooling and practice, with plenty of coaching and input along the way.

One of the best ways to learn is through modelling; we watch someone doing what we wish to learn how to do, or we listen to someone describe what they do and how they do it. Making love is a very complex and nuanced skill, usually within the context of some kind of relationship. So reading about lives lived with conscious emphasis on the erotic is a very good way of learning about the mysteries of human loving.

The lives encompassed in the books listed below include poets, writers and artists; gay, bisexual and straight; porn stars, spiritual leaders, housewives, and businessmen; ordinary folk and aristocrats; practitioners of vanilla sex, BDSM, anal sex, Tantra and beyond; encounters between the cultures of East and West; and covering some five hundred years of literary history.

Recommended Books on Erotic Lives: Memoir and Biography

Archaeologies of SexualityArchaeologies of Sexuality

Archaeologies of Sexuality presents a strong, diverse body of scholarship which draws on locations as varied as medieval England, the ancient Maya kingdoms, New Kingdom Egypt, prehistoric Europe, and convict-era Australia, demonstrating the challenges and rewards of integrating the study of sex and sexuality within archaeology. This volume, with contributions by many leading archaeologists, will serve both as an essential introduction and a valuable reference tool for students and academics. 2000, Routledge

Annie Sprinkle: Post-Porn Modernist by Annie SprinkleAnnie Sprinkle: Post-Porn Modernist

Porn-star-turned-performance-artist Annie Sprinkle presents an illustrated history of her 25-year career, documenting her transformation from ugly duckling to prostitute to porn queen to sexual healer, activist, and educator. She made over 200 hardcore films before leaving the industry to develop her own public performances, the most famous of which was her "Public Cervix Announcement," in which she allowed audience members to view her interior using a speculum and a flashlight. Well-written, well-illustrated, and calmly outrageous, Post-Porn Modernist is a great introduction to an American original. 1998, Cleis Press

Becoming a Man by Paul MonetteBecoming a Man: Half a Life Story

Becoming a Man filters Paul Monette's life story through two central facts: the closet and AIDS. Monette writes of the pain of being closeted, the effect it had on his writing, and how it shaped (and often destroyed) his relationships. Monette's fear and fury at AIDS and homophobia heighten the same skill and imagination he put into his fiction. This vision--poetic yet highly political, angry yet infused with the love of life--is what transforms Becoming a Man from simple autobiography into an intense record of struggle and salvation. In bearing witness to his and others' pain, he creates a personal testimony that illuminates the darkest corners of our culture even as it finds unexpected reserves of hope. 1992 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Betty Dodson: Her Life of Sex and Art (DVD), Mark Schoen, DirectorBetty Dodson: Her Life of Sex and Art (DVD)

This delightful video chronicles Betty Dodson's life and work as an artist, sexuality educator and orgasm coach to thousands of women. Cutting between segments of a live one-woman stage show and views of her breathtakingly erotic paintings of vulvas, we gain an understanding of this sexual pioneer who has championed solo sex and self-loving for four decades.

Big Sex Little DeathBig Sex Little Death: A Memoir

In this stunning and courageous coming-of-age story, Susie Bright opens her heart and her life. She introduces us to her influences and experiences, including her early involvement with notorious high school radicals The Red Tide as well as the magazine she co-founded in the 1980s, On Our Backs -- the first-ever erotic magazine created by women. Big Sex Little Death is an explosive yet intimate memoir that's pure Susie: bold, free-spirited, and unpredictable. 2011, Seal Press

Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763 by James BoswellBoswell's London Journal, 1762-1763

In 1762 James Boswell, then twenty-two years old, left Edinburgh for London. The famous Journal he kept during the next nine months is an intimate account of his encounters with the high-life and the low-life in London. Frank and confessional as a personal portrait of the young Boswell, the Journal is also revealing as a vivid portrayal of life in eighteenth-century London. Like Casanova's Journals, it is a great social portrait of the period. Boswell's London Journal is breezily erotic in its bawdy energy, as the plump little diarist bustles around London looking for a likely lass to sate his lechery upon. 2004, Yale University Press

Casanova's Women by Judith SummersCasanova's Women: The Great Seducer and the Women He Loved

Judith Summers reveals the real man behind the legend of Casanova, as seen through the eyes of those who knew him most intimately -- the women he seduced. Affair by affair, Casanova's Women renders a vivid flesh-and-blood portrait of the famed philanderer and the women who have too long languished in the shadows. 2007, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Cherry by Mary KarrCherry

First love, you may say, heart sinking in chest: what more can possibly be said about such a subject? Actually, a great deal. To read Cherry is to realize how rare it is to find a teenage girl portrayed on her own terms. As a chronicle of female adolescence with all its longings, fantasies, cruelties, and fears, Karr's memoir goes darker and deeper than any book in which the protagonist doesn't end up dead. She turns a savage eye on her own hypocrisies and failings, and we like her all the more for them. 2001, Penguin

Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by William Brame, Gloria BrameDifferent Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission

Rejecting theories that explain S&M in terms of low self-esteem or regressed sexuality, the authors portray sexual dominants, submissives and fetishists "as they see themselves: loving and compassionate individuals" for whom pain is pleasure and physical bondage is psychologically liberating. Different Loving is based upon interviews with some two hundred S&M practitioners. All dominance and submission, the authors explain, involves a "power exchange'' in which one partner "tops,'' or dominates, and the other "bottoms,'' or submits--whether through bondage, wrestling, whipping, body-piercing, or other means. 1996, Villard

The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters by Richard BernsteinThe East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters

Is the notion of the East as a zone of special erotic possibilities purely a matter of Western fantasy and wishful thinking? This question is at the center of Bernstein's wide-ranging, critically astute history of the complicated relationship between Western male sexuality and the East. The book opens in 2006 Shanghai and concludes in contemporary Bangkok; in between, we are led through a sweeping yet focused, male-centered history of sexuality, spanning a broadly defined East and West, from antiquity to the 21st century. Bernstein examines Flaubert's sexual exploits in Egypt, where he vividly recorded a sensual intensity, impossible in the West; British explorer Richard Burton's travels through the Middle East, India and Africa, all exemplified by a sexual artistry uncultivated in Christian Europe; the fascinating case of the secretive Henry de Montherlant, a pederast who spent years in North Africa greedy for flesh and eventually took his own life. Former New York Times correspondent Bernstein writes lucidly and with verve. This probing, absorbing and eclectic study critically challenges morally and politically correct interpretations of the Western sexual exploitation of the East. 2010, Vintage

Eric Gill by Fiona MacCarthyEric Gill

Sculptor, engraver, and one of the 20th century's greatest typographers, Gill considered himself a craftsman, never an artist. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, he believed in an integrated, religious life centered on the home and on making one's own clothes, food, and crafts. Yet despite a happy marriage and adherence to certain Victorian ideals, Gill flaunted traditional morality by engaging in countless affairs as well as incestuous relationships with both his sisters and daughters. Largely ignored by earlier scholars, these intriguing contradictions are fully explored in this carefully researched and uncensored biography. MacCarthy remains nonjudgmental yet inquisitive as she searches for the essence of this puzzling man. Through her skillful treatment, Gill emerges as a commanding figure, vital and brimming with creative energy rooted in masculine sexuality. 2003, Faber and Faber

Fire: From "A Journal of Love" The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1934-1937 by Anais NinFire: From "A Journal of Love" The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1934-1937

This third volume of Nin's provocative and provoking uncensored diaries finds our madly scribbling femme fatale in New York, where she's gone to get away from her doggedly loyal husband and from adored lover Henry Miller and to indulge her fancy for analyst Otto Rank. Tiring of Rank she suddenly enters a whole new realm of potent romance with a fiery man of Inca descent, Gonzalo More. These unexpurgated volumes are remarkable for their audacity and prolificity. Just one page of Nin's extraordinary diaries contains more sex, melodrama, fantasies, confessions, and observations than most novels, and reflects much about the human psyche we strive to repress. 1996, Harvest/HBJ

Franklin and EleanorFranklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage

Rowley argues that, despite the difficulties in their marriage, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt always genuinely loved each other. After 11 years of marriage, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce upon discovering his affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. But after he was struck by polio in 1921, she tolerated Franklin's long romance with his secretary, Missy LeHand, while FDR allowed Eleanor her romantic relationships with her chauffeur, Earl Miller, and journalist Lorena Hickok. Franklin and Eleanor is an engrossing account of an unusual pairing of two extraordinary people. 2011, Picador

Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" - The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932)Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932)

This bestseller covers a single momentous year during Nin's life in Paris, when she met Henry Miller and his wife, June. "Closer to what many sexually adventuresome women experience than almost anything I've ever read . . . I found it a very erotic book and profoundly liberating" (Alice Walker). 1990, Harvest Books

Henry and June (DVD)Henry & June (DVD)

Anaïs Nin (Maria de Medeiros) is a young woman in 1930s Paris whose husband is slowly defecting from art to working in a bank, leaving her very bored. When the then-unpublished Brooklyn writer Henry Miller (Fred Ward) enters her life, she embarks on a journey of seduction and sexual exploration that eventually leads from the writer to his wife, June (Uma Thurman), who finances her husband's life in Paris so he may praise her beauty in his writing. 1999, Universal Studios

The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World by Dane KennedyThe Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World

Burton (1821-1890) is best remembered today for his clandestine visit to the holy city of Mecca and his later translations of the Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra. As Kennedy points out, however, the Victorian adventurer's full list of accomplishments reflects a wide range of cultural concerns spurred by imperial England's interactions with the rest of the world. Attempting to "demythologize" his subject, Kennedy, a historian at George Washington University, examines eight phases of Burton's public image, from "the Gypsy" to "the sexologist," with a keen eye for psychological detail. 2007, Harvard University Press

Incest: From "A Journal of Love" - The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1932-1934)Incest: From "A Journal of Love" -The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1932-1934)

Picking up where Henry and June left off, this portion of Nin's diary records her steamy love affair with Henry Miller in Paris, but here her intense adoration gives way to disillusionment. Her real focus, however, is her father, Joaquin Nin, a Spanish pianist and aristocratic Don Juan who seduced her after a 20-year absence. Nin sought absolution from her psychiatrist and lover, Otto Rank, who advised her to bed her father, then dump him as punishment for abandoning her when she was 10. Her extraordinary, tangled self-analysis is a disarming record of her emotional and creative growth. 1993, Harvest Books

King Kong TheoryKing Kong Theory

With humor, rage, and confessional detail, Virginie Despentes delivers a highly charged account of women's lives today. She explodes common attitudes about sex and gender, and shows how modern beauty myths are ripe for rebelling against. Using her own experiences of rape, prostitution, and working in the porn industry as a jumping-off point, she creates a new space for all those who can't or won't obey the rules. 2010, The Feminist Press at CUNY

Live Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverend JenLive Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverend Jen

In this lively memoir, Troll Museum creator, mail-order Reverend and all-around creative type Jen recounts a two-year series of "sexperiments" performed for her online Nerve magazine column. Though common wisdom asserts there's nothing new under the sun, Reverend Jen gives the cliché a run for its money, with material to make a sailor blush: she witnesses a jar of mayonnaise violated, attends an S&M "reform school" and hosts a "sex toy Olympics," in which she puts an untold number of appliances and rubber goods through rigorous trials. Happily, Jen's candor, well-developed sense of humor and honesty prove endearing; she's a hard narrator to dislike, with enough charm for anyone with an opinion on Sex and the City-there's enough wry cynicism and disbelieving-but-nonjudgmental attitude for lovers and haters. Genuinely curious and game for just about anything, Jen stumbles into a more conventional quest for love near the end of the book. This hedonistic nonfiction sex romp has an enormous heart. 2009, Soft Skull Press

The Lives of the MusesThe Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired

In The Lives of the Muses, Francine Prose writes the spirited and enlightening stories of nine women who fired the imaginations of some of the most creative artists and thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. With wicked wit, she shows how these women were both exemplars of their times as well as iconoclasts struggling to assert their own identity within the unconventional relationships they formed with these men. 2003, Harper Perennial

Making Love: An Erotic Odyssey by Richard RhodesMaking Love: An Erotic Odyssey

Following A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood, Rhodes offers a remarkably frank case study of his most intimate personal experiences -- his sexual life. Opening with losing his virginity, he chronicles his first sexual experience, masturbation techniques, fantasies, use of pornography, and his work with ESO (extended sexual orgasm) and ends with his relationship with G--. Emphasizing the "verity" of everything in the book, Rhodes offers explicit and disarmingly honest descriptions in his narrative of sexual maturation. This well-written volume provocatively and perceptively provides one perspective on male heterosexuality. 1993, Touchstone Books

Male Lust: Pleasure, Power, and Transformation by Kerwin Brook, Jill Nagle, Baruch GouldMale Lust: Pleasure, Power, and Transformation

This provocative collection of personal essays and poetry explores the emotional realities of men's diverse relationships with sex and desire. A wide variety of topics and political perspectives are covered, including a discussion of remembering sexual abuse, celebrations of S & M, rants against pornography, and discussions of racism. Five of the essays are by women, and two essays are by transgendered men. This book reflects both gay and straight viewpoints and offers a positive sexual vision that moves far beyond the narrow messages offered in mainstream media. 2000, Routledge

My Life and Loves by Frank HarrisMy Life and Loves

Long banned in the United States and England, My Life and Loves is one of the most notorious autobiographies ever written. Famous for its erotic passages, it is also one of the richest and most entertaining views ever of fin-de-siècle literary and social life. 1994, Grove Press

One Nation Under SexOne Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History

Ben Franklin saved the American Revolution by seducing French women. A gay love affair between President James Buchanan and Senator William King aided the secession movement. Woodrow Wilson's girlfriend dictated his letters to the German Kaiser. And lesbian relationships inspired Eleanor Roosevelt to become a revolutionary crusader for equal rights. The colorful sex lives of America's most powerful leaders have influenced social movements, government policies, elections and even wars, yet they are so whitewashed by historians that people think Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln were made of marble, not flesh and blood. One Nation Under Sex dishes the truth at last! 2011, Palgrave Macmillan

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage by Jenny BlockOpen: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage

Jenny Block is your average girl next door, a suburban wife and mother for whom married life never felt quite right. In Open, she paints a down to earth picture of how an open marriage can work, and specifically why it works for her and her husband. In dissecting other people's strong reactions to her choice, she explores the question of why cheating is more socially acceptable than open marriage. Open challenges our notions of what traditional marriage looks like, and presents one woman's journey down an uncertain path that ultimately proves that open marriage is a viable option for her life. 2008, Seal Press

Paying for ItPaying For It

Paying For It is a compelling look into one man's history of employing prostitutes as a replacement for romantic love. In June 1996 Brown's then girlfriend broke up with him. After three years of celibacy and his growing conviction that romantic love is destructively possessive, Brown works up the courage to see a legal prostitute and finds the anxiety over whether to pursue a relationship with any particular woman forever removed. The next 200 pages are an explicit dossier of the various women he did business with, until he meets one that he ends up with in a monogamous -- but still financial -- relationship. 2011, Drawn and Quarterly

Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah LutzPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism

A smart, provocative account of the erotic current running just beneath the surface of a stuffy and stifling Victorian London. In 1860s London, two loosely overlapping groups of bohemians -- the Cannibal Club and the Aesthetes -- challenged the buttoned-up Victorian propriety to promote erotic freedom and expression. Sensually attuned and politically radical, they were among the most influential thinkers and artists of the day, from Richard Burton to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris. These iconoclasts not only navigated the fringes of sexual deviance with their bodies but also carried the pleasures of the body into their work, creating a taboo-loving counterculture whose reverberations can be felt today. In this stunning and nuanced exposé of the Victorian London we thought we knew, Deborah Lutz takes us beyond the eyebrow-raising practices of these sex rebels, showing us how their work uncovered troubles that ran beneath the surface of the larger social fabric: the struggle for women's emancipation, the dissolution of traditional religions, and the pressing need to expand accepted forms of sexual expression. 2011, W. W. Norton & Company

Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture by Carol QueenReal Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture

In Real Live Nude Girl Carol Queen is re-evaluating the range and possibilities of sexual experience and identity. This book gathers previously published essays on topics ranging from pelvic exams, pornography law, the men's movement, sex as art, Madonna, and sacred whoredom. Queen is an intelligent, funny writer who probes her own life to detail the many ways an individual can be mindfully sexual. 2002, Cleis Press

Red Thread of Passion by David GuyRed Thread of Passion

What do Walt Whitman and Annie Sprinkle have in common, or D. H. Lawrence and a porn queen? They share experiential knowledge that sex is one of the most profoundly spiritual human experiences. In an engagingly confessional voice, Guy describes his lifelong quest to understand the place of sexual passion in our spiritual lives. His self-revelation redeemingly serves as a bridge to the more extreme experiences he finds in literature and in life. This is a genuinely lusty book and a genuinely spiritual one, too. 1999, Shambhala

Secret HistorianSecret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade

Steward (1909 - 1993) was an English professor, a novelist, a confidant of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder, and a furtive but exuberant erotic adventurer whose taste for sailors, rough trade, and violent sadomasochism endeared him to sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. Later in life, he became Phil Sparrow, official tattoo artist of the Oakland, Calif., Hell's Angels. Spring fleshes out this colorful story by quoting copiously from his subject's highly literate journals and sex diaries -- his Stud File contained entries on trysts with everyone from Rudolph Valentino to Rock Hudson -- which afford an unabashed account of Steward's erotic picaresque and the yearnings that drove it. Spring's sympathetic and entertaining story of a life registers the limitations imposed on homosexuals by a repressive society, but also celebrates the creativity and daring with which Steward tested them. 2010, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

SeductressSeductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love

"Seductresses are in fact the liberated women incarnate," asserts the author in her opening chapter. "They're the stealth heroines of history. The first feminists." It's a persuasive argument, which Professor Prioleau illustrates with many quotations, attributions and texts from anthropology, religion, psychology, history, art, literature, and music. Modern women have lost their goddess-centered groove, she asserts, and as a consequence the entire race is going to hell in a male-dominated, bimbo-focused handbasket. Telling wonderfully entertaining tales of self-possessed sirens and seductresses throughout the eons, Prioleau makes a strong case for women to take back their ancestral birthright of sexy wholeness. 2004, Penguin

The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin's Priestess of Depravity by Mel GordonThe Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin's Priestess of Depravity

In sex-obsessed Weimar Berlin during the 1920s, an era where everything was permitted, Anita Berber's celebrations of "Depravity, Horror and Ecstasy" were condemned and censored. She often haunted hotel lobbies, nightclubs and casinos, radiantly naked except for an elegant sable wrap, a pet monkey hanging from her neck, and a silver brooch packed with cocaine. Multi-talented Anita saw no boundaries between her personal life and her taboo-shattering performances. As such, she was Europe's first postmodern woman. 2006, Feral House

Sex: Real People Talk aboput What They Really Do by Harry MaurerSex: Real People Talk About What They Really Do

What do people actually do in bed? That's the question that nagged at oral historian Maurer who, at age 44, realized that he rarely talked explicitly to his wife about sex, much less to others. To answer it, he interviewed about 120 men and women; here, in a smoothly edited, erotically charged report, is what 55 of them had to say. Maurer's subjects range from a 12-year-old boy just awakening to sex to a 68-year-old woman plunging into the sexual revolution by way of personal ads; from a happily married, monogamous man to a pricey prostitute and a man who would obsessively call pay phones to have phone sex with chance passersby. Each talks at length in baldly graphic terms about sex: what turns them on, what doesn't, and why: about orgiastic sex with strangers; intimacy with a spouse; the power-plays of sadomasochism; or techniques of masturbation, foreplay, and intercourse. A fascinating peek into the private lives of ordinary people. 1995, Penguin

The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine MilletThe Sexual Life of Catherine M.

Millet, art critic and editor of Art Press, here describes her "quest for the sexual grail" which takes her to group orgies, gang bangs in French parks and other serial sex escapades. Before long, the sex begins to seem utterly routine, in spite of the elaborate staging. Millet and her readers are then free to consider more closely some questions she raises: how oral sex compares to vaginal intercourse; why sex in disgusting circumstances is not about "self-abasement," but raising oneself "above all prejudice"; or why solitary sex is more pleasurable for her than sex with a partner. Toward the end of this curiously graceful memoir, Millet comes close to explaining her need for all this sex: only by sloughing off the "mechanical body" she'd been born with could she experience actual sexual pleasure. 2003, Grove Press

The Stoned Apocalypse by marco VassiThe Stoned Apocalypse
Marco Vassi

During his lifetime, Marco Vassi was hailed as America's most invigorating erotic writer and worthiest successor to Henry Miller. The Stoned Apocalypse is Vassi's autobiography, a chronicle of his cross-country trip on America's counterculture byways. Vassi's relentless quest for the perfect union of the spiritual and the corporeal provides a rare glimpse of one generation's sexual imagination. 2004, e-reads.com

The Story of My Life by Giacomo CasanovaThe Story of My Life

Seducer, gambler, necromancer, swindler, Good Samaritan, spy, swashbuckler, self-made gentleman, entrepreneur, poet, translator, philosopher, and general bon vivant, Giacomo Casanova was not only the most notorious lover the Western world has known but also a storyteller of the first order. 2001, Penguin Classics

The Sinner's Grand TourThe Sinner's Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe

In The Sinner's Grand Tour, celebrated historian and travel writer Tony Perrottet sets off to discover a string of legendary sites and relics that are still kept far from public view. In southern France, he visits the château of the Marquis de Sade, now owned by Pierre Cardin. In Paris, he finds the Belle Époque fantasy brothel Le Chabanais and the lost "sex chair" of King Edward VII. Within the Pope's very own apartments in Vatican City lies the fabled Stufetta del Bibbiena, a pornography-covered bathroom painted by Raphael in 1516. Perrottet brings us a romping travel adventure through the scandalous backrooms of historical Europe. 2011, Broadway

Sugar in my BowlSugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

When it comes to sex, what do women want? In this eye-opening and courageous collection, Erica Jong reveals that every woman has her own answer. Susan Cheever talks about the "excruciating hazards of casual sex," while Gail Collins recounts her Catholic upbringing in Cincinnati and the nuns who passionately forbade her from having "carnal relations." In "Everything Must Go," Jennifer Weiner explores how, in love, the body can play just as big a role as the heart. The octogenarians in Karen Abbott's sharp-eyed piece possess a passion that could give Betty White a run for her money. Molly Jong-Fast reflects on her unconventional upbringing and why a whole generation of young women have rejected "free love" in favor of Bugaboo strollers and Mommy-and-me yoga. Sex, it turns out, can be as fleeting, heavy, mundane, and intense as the rest of life. Indeed, Jong states in her powerful introduction "the truth is -- sex is life." 2011, Ecco

The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir by Toni BentleyThe Surrender: An Erotic Memoir

In Toni Bentley's daring and intimate memoir she pulls the sheets back on her erotic enchantment with anal sex recounting her relationship with a surprising lover who introduced her to profound experiences of intimacy and vulnerability. The Surrender is a witty, intelligent and eloquent exploration of one woman's obsession that will be sure to leave readers questioning their own desires. 2004, Ecco

Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love by Daniel OdierTantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love

Daniel Odier writes about his search to find a Tantric master. On the verge of giving up, he retreats to a small village in India where he finds a great Tantric master, Devi, in the forest. She agrees to take him on as her student and warns him that his journey will be difficult. As the master-student bond is strengthened, Devi’s teachings become more deep and subtle. The final part of the time spent with Devi involves his initiation into Tantric ritual sexuality, the joining of Shiva and Shakti, which causes the rising of the Kundalini, the sacred spiritual force that purifies the body. Odier also relates the challenges of coming back to the “real world” to use what he learned. 1997, Inner Traditions

TemptressTemptress: From the Original Bad Girls to Women on Top

According to Jane Billinghurst, men created the idea of the temptress - an irresistible woman bent on bringing them down - to justify the fact that they so often surrender to women, especially in the bedroom. In this fascinating study, she examines this vision in history, mythology, in the Bible, artwork, and film. She traces the evolution of the temptress from an almost demonic presence in folklore to current in-your-face performers like Madonna. Billinghurst makes the case that when men begin to accept women as equals, the figure of the temptress will serve to accommodate both male and female desires. 2004, Greystone Books

Thy Neighbor's Wife by Gay TaleseThy Neighbor's Wife

When first published, Gay Talese's 1981 groundbreaking work, Thy Neighbor's Wife, shocked a nation with its powerful, eye-opening revelations about the sexual activities and proclivities of the American public in the era before AIDS. A marvel of journalistic courage and craft, the book opened a window into a new world built on a new moral foundation, carrying the reader on a remarkable journey from the Playboy Mansion to the Supreme Court, to the backyards and bedrooms of suburbia -- through the development of the porn industry, the rise of the "swinger" culture, the legal fight to define obscenity, and the daily sex lives of "ordinary" people. It is the book that forever changed the way Americans look at themselves and one another. Newly updated. 2009, Harper Perennial

Tiger, TigerTiger, Tiger: A Memoir

In this gut-wrenching memoir of sexual abuse Fragoso explores with unflinching honesty the ways in which pedophiles can manipulate their way into the lives of children. She first met Peter Curran at a public pool in 1985 when she was seven and he was 51. He seemed harmless, and invited Fragoso and her mother back to his house. This marked the beginning of Curran and Fragoso's 15-year relationship, which ended when he committed suicide at age 66. Fragoso's home life was strained -- her mother was in and out of psychiatric wards and her father was an alcoholic -- and Curran's home, with its myriad pets and lack of rules, became her refuge. This is a courageous story of a young woman coming to terms with sexual abuse. 2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Tristan Taormino's True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn, and Perversion by Tristan TaorminoTristan Taormino's True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn, and Perversion

Tristan Taormino has dished out sex advice to Howard Stern, Dick Clark, and the Playboy Advisor. Now the best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women collects 70 hand-picked reports on everything from lap dancing to group masturbation to lesbian pornography. In these essays, Taormino combines explicit passions with an outspoken sexual candor that shocks and amuses readers. 2002, Cleis Press

Women of the Light: The New Sacred Prostitute by Kenneth Ray StubbsWomen of the Light: The New Sacred Prostitute

Nine women share their work and their insights from their lives as teachers of sacred sexuality. The sexual meditation teacher, the nurse, the artist, the porn star, the masseuse, and others reveal who they are and their vision of the sexual and the spiritual. 1994, Access Publishers Network

Your Perfect Lips: A Spiritual-Erotic Memoir

In Your Perfect Lips psychotherapist, yogi, consciousness researcher, and educator Stuart Sovatsky reveals himself as a lover-devotee, a bahkta, of the incarnate Divine Feminine. Here is a contemporary experiential Tantric revelation in the form of a truly remarkable piece of devotional erotic poetry, a work at once personal in nature and universal in reference and resonance. 2005, iUniverse, Inc.

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