The New York Times has a great photo gallery of Norman Mailer’s stunning and highly personal Brooklyn Heights apartment on its website. Norman Mailer, who passed away in 2007, tackled his fear of heights (stemming from his vertigo problem) when he drastically remodeled his apartment over forty years ago “by designing a space that resembled…
Freud, Schmroid. If you’re looking for a good book on the interpretation of dreams, check out the brand new one by our friend Lauri Loewenberg, the nicest dream interpreter you’ll ever meet! Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life (published by St. Martin’s Press) features hundreds of real dream interpretations and a comprehensive dream symbol dictionary to help you understand and make the most of your nocturnal visions, especially the sexy ones. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to sex dreams, which Lauri says are often “not about a physical union you want, but rather a psychological union you need!” There are 10 kinds of sex dreams; below are 5 of them; check out Dream On It for the other five archetypes (The Friend, The Same Gender, Oral Sex, Family Members, and Masturbation):
The Mystery Lover — This is the most common of all sex dreams. Many of us wonder if this dream is actually a glimpse of our soul mate who might be out there somewhere waiting for us. Alas, t’is not so. But what is so is that the unknown, faceless man or woman that often appears in our dreams does indeed hold significance….Our dreams have a cool way of showing us the different parts of our personality in the form of a person so we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and what makes us tick. That being said, the mystery lover in your dreams is the embodiment, the personification of the qualities we tend to associate with that gender….Throughout life we struggle to incorporate the right balance of each [gender] into our personalities and behavior. A man wants to be caring and understanding, yet he doesn’t want to be a sissy. A woman wants to assert herself, yet she doesn’t want to be labeled the B word! Our mystery lover dreams are guiding us towards that perfect balance of firm and gentle, bold and caring, yin and yang.
Two first-namer Bill Ryan has a novel (pun!) hobby that takes him to book signings where he asks authors to commemorate his copy with their signature and an insult, which he then shares on his blog. Amy Sedaris’ insult is rather NSFW, but SUNfiltered readers are a mature and appreciative crowd!
There seems to be Mormonism and polygamy in the air lately (at least for us), so we wanted to spread the love to you and you and you and…:
Escape — Just finished this crazy page-turner of a memoir from Carolyn Jessop, one of the few women to escape The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or FLDS (of Warren Jeffs infamy) with her 8 kids (and 8 is a low number for this radical polygamist sect). She recounts how the cult basically imprisons women as sex/baby-making slaves — you’ll boggle over how something like this could exist in America in the 21st century. Katherine Heigl is slated to make the movie version of the book (which, we hate to admit, we’re morbidly excited about).
In a world of Facebook “likes” and online dating questionnaires that seem to narrow down the soul-mate search to a simple (and yet oh so witty!) checklist of wants and needs, it’s easy to focus on the superficial ways in which we do or don’t connect with each other. And granted, that stuff can make or break a first date, and can be indicative of a long-term connection. We both love darts! He’s got a flat butt too! Another unabashed Miley Cyrus fan?! Still, superficial connections have a tendency to mask bedsheet-sized red flags. Like, oh, say, the fact that your date is a raging narcissist. So we turned to Gordon Livingston, M.D., author of the book How to Love: Choosing Well at Every Stage of Life, and asked him to weigh on the, well, weightier issues. Specifically, seven personality types that you should avoid in your search for Mr./Ms. Right. Even if said Mr./Ms. performs the best damn air guitar solo you’ve ever seen.
1. The Self-Absorbed Hysteric
These so-called “histrionic” people often describe themselves as “passionate and emotional.” Their primary drive is to be the center of attention. Their self-absorption and superficiality make it hard for them to engage in the give and take of healthy relationships. Danger signals that one is in the presence of a self-absorbed “hysteric” include shallowness and a more or less constant need to be the focus of attention. It is just very hard for them to get beyond their own needs to consider their obligations to others, even their own children.
A well-reviewed biography on artist Amadeo Modigliani written by seasoned biographer Meryle Secrest came out earlier this month. Modigliani: A Life dutifully chronicles the artist’s notoriously tumultuous life, one fraught with poverty and bouts of alcoholism and drug-addiction that quickly worsened his struggle with tubercular meningitis. Of course, none of this drama is relayed in the title, nor is there any evidence of the artist’s misfortunes or madness in the cover, which shows a young Modigliani in a polo and V-neck sweater, looking ready to teach high school economics. There exist several other biographies on the late artist. In fact, five years before Secrest’s Modigliani: A Life was published, Jeffrey Myers wrote the biography Modigliani: A Life.
We’ve been writing about sex for more than ten years, and when we started out, the topic that our female readers wanted to hear about most was orgasms — how to have them (either solo or with a partner), how to have them more often, how to have different kinds, how to have them simultaneously with a partner, how to stop faking them, and so on. Well, the Big O is still a favorite topic, but these days it practically ties with another topic: painful sex. (And we’re not talking about the attending heartbreak, though consistent physical pain during intercourse can itself be heartbreaking, of course.) We don’t necessarily think that sex is suddenly more painful for women, but rather that it’s becoming more acceptable to talk about the fact that, for women especially, sometimes sex can hurt like a motherfucker…not to put too fine a point on it. But too many women still fail to speak up. So we were thrilled to hear about a new book that focuses on this topic: When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain, by Andrew Goldstein, MD, Caroline Pukall, PhD, and Irwin Goldstein, MD. We definitely don’t have nearly enough letters after our names to adequately address the issues involved here! The authors were kind enough to allow us to publish an excerpt from the first chapter of their book, which you can read below. Check back in next week for their summary of the various causes of painful sex, and the week after that for a Q&A with the authors, in which they address some of the most common question they hear about painful sex.
Watch this fun stop-motion video of books rearranging and organizing themselves on a bookshelf, and stay for the credits. As one YouTube commenter wrote: Things to do while on house arrest. -> Looking at you Mubarak and Qaddafi.
Somehow in the post-holidays hangover, we missed the fact that Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — a.k.a. the Jersey Shore star with a pouf — made her debut as a novelist earlier this month, with A Shore Thing. Yep, she’s the one who once admitted she’d only read two books, Twilight and Dear John. (Which might explain why Snooki’s novel contains both a Bella and an Edward — not exactly the most common names overheard on a Jersey boardwalk.) We’re too busy reading George Eliot right now to actually read her entire snook, as we like to call it, but we have been enjoying reading the following brief excerpts out loud while lounging around in our silk pajamas and feeding each other grapes. Just in case you were expecting Hemingway, the cover helpfully explains that the novel is about “a girl [named Gia] looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans, and fights galore).”
“Gia danced around a little, shaking her peaches for show. She shook it hard. Too hard. In the middle of a shimmy, her stomach cramped. A fart slipped out. A loud one. And stinky.”
“He had an okay body. Not fat at all. And naturally toned abs. She could pour a shot of tequila down his belly and slurp it out of his navel without getting splashed in the face.”
Designer Darren Booth shares on his blog some photos and his thought process that led to the (lovely) book cover for Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty.” In a world where designers all seem to work in their computer, it’s great to see someone working “old school” in their craft. As you can see from…
I previously blogged here about Ryan Iverson who “has been casting a shadow over the Internet’s collective warm memories of books from our childhood with his droll parodies” of Werner Herzog “reading” classic children’s books. He’s back this time with Werner Herzog chillingly reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
See the rest of the list at The Believer.
Around this time of year people find themselves with extra time and, looking for a way to fill the empty hours, they remember that good old friend, the book. Like a true friend, the book doesn’t mind that you’ve forgotten about him since July, and doesn’t even consider your momentary weakness for a Tom Clancy at the beach cheating. Now that it’s winter, though, it wouldn’t hurt to get a little more serious. But what to read? You could ask your annoyingly well-read friend, but he’s still trying to get you to read Gravity’s Rainbow, and let’s face it, that’s not happening. There’s that new Judd Apatow book, and yeah, it’s pretty good, but your friend the book wants to give you more than just a passing thrill. He wants to set you on the straight and narrow and get you reading for the long run.
The Economist charted up this list of the most expensive books ever sold at auction with John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” leading the way after a winning bid of $10.3 million on December 7. I think this is slightly misleading because it doesn’t account for the time variance of when these books were…
We’re totally hooked on Google’s new book search tool, which lets you search and graph the frequency of words in millions of books from 1800 to today. You can even compare and contrast two words or phrases to see how they fare in print over the years. It’s intended for scholars, but it’s free for anyone to use. “We wanted to show what becomes possible when you apply very high-turbo data analysis to questions in the humanities,” said one of the geniuses behind the toy — er, tool. He calls the method “culturomics” — which is a hell of a lot catchier than the tool’s title: the Books Ngram Viewer (gotta love the nerd factor). We took the tool for a test drive…
The New York Public Library shared this amusing anecdote from Keith Richards’ visit in October. While Keef was waiting ‘backstage’ in the center before the talk, he unexpectedly lit up a cigarette in Marie’s office, and grabbed the clay saucer underneath the orchid for a makeshift ash tray. He then asked for the window to…
Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. We published the good and the bad earlier, here’s the complicated:
Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. We published the good first, here’s the bad, tune in next Thursday for the complicated:
Sometimes in YA, the darker, more depressing and horrifying side of sex is explored – molestation, incest, rape, STDs…. You name it, and you’ll likely find it in the YA section. These books are often challenged by would-be book banners but, fortunately, the freedom to read usually reigns supreme. Please note: just because the sex in these books is bad doesn’t mean we think the books themselves are.
Identical by Ellen Hopkins (2008) — This novel in verse is told from the perspective of twin sisters, one who is sexually molested by their father and the other who deals with their father’s “favoritism” by seeking out sex with drug dealers and random, scummy guys. Sex scenes in YA are not frequently written with much detail, but the sexual assault by “Daddy” is some of the more graphic sex we’ve come across in YA. Disturbing with a capital D. Check out our full review of Identical on LoveYALit.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2008) — When “Alice” was 10, she was kidnapped by Ray, a nondescript middle-aged man, and forced to be his sex slave. Now that she is 15 and going through puberty, he’s starving Alice to slow down this process while forcing her to look for her “replacement.” This means trolling the playgrounds and choosing a suitable target. It’s a chilling yet fascinating look at the vulnerability of children to power, control and violence — and the subsequent dehumanizing effects of such abuse.
Books make awesome holiday gifts: They can be mailed directly from Amazon et al if you remember someone at the very last minute; they won’t cause weight gain or allergy attacks; they show more thought and insight than a gift certificate; and they’re easy as anything to wrap (ever try gift-wrapping a cactus plant?). We’d like to think that our manual SEX: How to Do Everything makes the perfect gift for everyone, but we know we don’t live in that sort of world. So here are our ten best suggestions for sex-related books to give to those special folks in your life whom you’re not sleeping with.
Our Bodies, Our Junk by the Association for the Betterment of Sex: This book won’t do much to improve your sex life, and your partner might not appreciate the message of receiving a sex manual that makes for ideal bathroom reading. But your roommate/best friend/gym buddy certainly will.
Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust: Not for your kid’s pre-school teacher or your outstanding female employee…obviously. But for your best female friend since grade school who knows more about your sex life than you do and who is always lamenting the lack of good porn out there? Check. FYI, single and coupled female friends alike will benefit from this book, though the latter gals — particularly if they are on the sensitive side — might not necessarily agree with you. Then again, they’re the ones who need it most.
Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. First, the good (then tune in over the next two Thursdays for the bad and the complicated):
Proponents of abstinence-only education may not approve, but there are several literary examples of young adults having empowering, exciting, safe sex as well as healthy, loving relationships with their bodies and their partners.
Forever… by Judy Blume (1975) — The Blume classic of a girl who discovers her sexuality and — get this — finds it pleasurable! Afterwards, there are no disturbing or negative consequences; she’s not punished in any way. She simply comes to the mature realization that high school relationships aren’t forever. Amazingly (and unfortunately), there is nothing else like this in YA lit.
Laura Kipnis is the kind of writer we’d like to be if we weren’t so fond of making poop jokes and cheesy ’80s references (but, hey, there’s still time to grow up, right?). She writes smart books about topics close to our hearts, like love, sex, pornography, and — most recently — scandal. Her new book is called How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior and it will make you feel okay — even intellectual — about rehashing all the gory details regarding Eliot Spitzer’s mistress or the astronaut in diapers. You get to revel in scandal for two hundred pages and still respect yourself in the morning.
One of our biggest pet peeves is our society’s automatic acceptance — the giddy embrace, even — of the theory that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, with nary a space shuttle between them. We’ve written before on the lazy scientists who are suckers for a sexy headline about the “innate” differences between men and women, while touting the seemingly lone, reasonable voice of neuroscientist Lise Eliot in her book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It.” Fortunately, there are now a few other voices of reason voice that have jumped into the fray as of late: First, Barnard professor Rebecca Jordan-Young in her new book “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences”; and then “Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference” by academic psychologist Cordelia Fine. Slate has a great review of “Brain Storm” here, and below is Publisher’s Weekly succinct starred review of it:
We’re the first people to say that avoiding fights completely in a relationship is not a realistic — nor a particularly healthy — goal. In fact, studies have found that couples who can fight passionately but civilly tend to have stronger romantic connections, i.e. their relationships don’t turn platonic as quickly. In other words, it’s not necessarily how often you fight, but how you fight.
Affection: An Erotic Memoir by Krissy Kneen is a story of compulsive sexual exploration, sex addiction — and, ultimately, blissful, married monogamy. Australian author Kneen was raised by a group of protective and eccentric women who forbade any and every expression of sexuality… and we all know where that leads. We chatted to Kneen about her new book.
EM & LO: Your upbringing obviously had a huge impact on the way you approached sex and love. What do you think are the most important things for parents to teach their kids about sex and love?
Krissy Kneen: I think it is important that parents realize that the things they vehemently deny their kids are the things that their kids will want to do the most. I have seen friends refuse to let their kids have Barbie dolls and as a result the kid has grown up to collect Barbie dolls. Another friend denied their child sugar and as a result the now teenage girl is a sugar addict. I think it is important for parents to protect their kids, but a complete ban can lead to all kinds of problems.
You wait your whole life for a book making fun of hippie seventies sex manuals and then, boom, two come along in a month — what are the odds? But only one of them includes the top five pastry-related euphemisms for female genitalia, and only one of them includes a suggested list of effective safe words, including “rhubarb” and “I went to Camp Sea Gull in North Carolina.” And it’s even got line drawings, too. We’re talking about Our Bodies Our Junk, a new book by five hilarious guys (alums of The Daily Show and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, amongst others) who write under the guise of the Association for the Betterment of Sex. Our friend Todd Levin agreed to represent the ABS for a few of our only-slightly-insecure questions. (His co-writers are Scott Jacobson, Jason Roeder, Mike Sacks, and Ted Travelstead.)
EM & LO: You guys aren’t making fun of us, right? You’re just making fun of stuffy old seventies sex manuals…
THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE BETTERMENT OF SEX: Why does it always have to be about you? We were definitely inspired by all those 1970s sex manuals our (liberal) parents had lying around — the ones featuring tasteful pen and ink drawings of hippies going down on each other.
We’ll admit it: we know very little about porn. In theory we know that there’s better porn out there than the crap our male hallmates used to watch in college with their doors “accidentally” left open. And we know that, as a professional obligation, we really should investigate this good porn more — especially given how many people write to us asking for advice about porn: what to watch, how to get over a partner’s porn habit, how to convince a partner that watching porn isn’t cheating, how to find ethically produced porn, etc. But we somehow never seem to get around it. Which is why we are beyond thrilled by the release of the excellent book Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust. It’s our round tuit. Lust did the leg-work so we don’t have to. We chatted with the filmmaker, journalist, and cofounder of Lust Films…
EM & LO: You have a lot to say in your book about what exactly is wrong with male-produced porn. When and why did you decide to stop just critiquing and start actually producing yourself?
ERIKA LUST: My relationship with porn wasn’t quite love at first sight. But for me it seemed clear from the beginning that this does not lie in the nature of porn — it’s a matter of how it’s done. It just needed somebody to do it. But who? This bunch of guys that dominated the industry for decades, pestering us with the same sleazy sets, boring or hardly elaborated plots, bad make-up, terrible acting, and unrealistic or simply ridiculous sex scenes? Not really. They had their shot. We can simply complain about those guys, or we can get it on ourselves.