Let’s Do It!

If birds, bees and educated fleas do it, you can, too — with a little help from book releases in time for Valentine’s Day

Compiled by Brian Lampkin

Yes, love and romance.
Of course, chocolates and flowers. But what is it we really want from Valentine’s Day? January and February bring us a proverbial backroom full of new books on sex and sexuality that will help you separate the players from the performers. With these guides and how-tos, you’ll soon sort out what you actually desire from what you’re supposed to desire. What is it we really want from Valentine’s Day? Books on sex!

January 7: Topics of Conversation, by Miranda Popkey (Knopf, $24). Miranda Popkey’s first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt — written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women — the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage.

February 4: The Queen V: Everything You Need to Know about Sex, Intimacy, and Down There Health Care, by Dr. Jackie Walters (Andy Cohen Books, $27). After twenty years of private obstetrics and gynecological practice, there’s nothing Dr. Jackie Walters hasn’t encountered. And now, in her new book, the widely adored OBGYN invites you to put your feet in the stirrups and investigate. Whether she’s covering libido, contraceptives, labiaplastyor fertility, Dr. Jackie educates readers with her characteristic grace and pragmatism. Both funny and informative, she brings you on a quest through the female reproductive system — answering all the burning (and itching and odiferous . . .) questions you’ve always been afraid to ask.

February 4: Seduction: A History from the Enlightenment to the Present, by Clement Knox (Pegasus, $28.95). Moving from the Garden of Eden to the carnivals of 18th-century Venice, and from the bawdy world of Georgian London to the saloons and speakeasies of the Jazz Age, this is an exploration of timeless themes of power, desire, and free will. Along the way we meet Mary Wollstonecraft, her daughter Mary Shelley, and her friend Caroline Norton, and reckon with their fight for women’s rights and freedoms. We encounter Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, who became entangled in America’s labyrinthine and racialized seduction laws. We consider how after seduction seemingly vanished from view during the Sexual Revolution, it has exploded back into our lives.

February 4: The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution, by Katherine Rowland (Seal Press, $28). American culture is more sexually liberal than ever. But compared to men, women’s sexual pleasure has not grown: Millions of American women experience the sexual malaise clinically known as low sexual desire. Between this low desire, muted pleasure and experiencing sex in terms of labor rather than of lust, women by the millions are dissatisfied with their erotic lives. For too long, this deficit has been explained in terms of women’s biology, stress and age, but in The Pleasure Gap, Katherine Rowland rejects the idea that women should settle for diminished pleasure. Instead, she argues women should take inequality in the bedroom as seriously as we take it in the workplace and understand its causes and effects.

February 11: Sex Positive: Redefining Our Attitudes to Love & Sex, by Kelly Neff (Watkins Publishing, $18.95). In this ground-breaking study of modern sexuality, Dr. Kelly Neff explores this new cultural movement and examines LGBTQI issues, #MeToo, female orgasm, the rise of nonmonogamous relationships and robotic sex partners, among many other contentious topics emerging as part of the ongoing social and political shifts surrounding sex, love and identity.

February 11: Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand (Back Bay, $16.99). Sorry. Apparently this book isn’t about what I first thought. But that does remind me that Scuppernong Books will host its 2nd Annual Non-Erotic Reading on February 13 at 7p.m. We’re guided by The Guardian’s annual Bad Sex Awards in Fiction. Here’s a sample from a “winner,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls:

“Then I screamed as though I were being run over by a train, and that long arm of his was reaching up again to palm my mouth, and I bit into his hand the way a wounded soldier bites on a bullet.
And then it was the most, and I more or less died.”

Please join us to celebrate the bad so we can recognize the good!  OH

Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books.

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