Category Archives: Book Reviews

Tearjerkers

My emotions today have reached a heretofore unprecedented level of sappiness.  I kid you not, as of 1:30pm Pacific time, I have cried over three different things I have seen online.  I’ve decided to share them with you here.

First up is Anita Sarkeesian’s TEDx talk, where she discusses the potential psychology behind the cybermob that attacked her so viciously over her Tropes vs. Women kickstarter project.

I teared up at the end.  Male and female video game characters pander so excessively to the heterosexual male fantasies that it leaves little room for those of alternate genders or sexual orientations to also indulge in the fantasy.  I love playing video games.  Love it.  But just once, I’d like to see a female character that isn’t weak, or aggressively sexualized.  Am I really asking too much when I ask to play a female character who isn’t wearing a chainmail bikini over the balloons on her chest?

And then there’s this picture.

That is Dan Savage (one of my personal heroes, though we disagree from time to time) and his longtime partner Terry, getting their marriage certificate signed in Washington state.  I wept like a baby.  I am so happy that my home state has made same sex marriage legal.

Finally, the fact that this is an actual film that will be shown at SXSW 2013 did me in.

I am so very excited for this film.  Wonder Woman is a personal favorite superhero of mine (and really, she should be for anyone else too!).  I recently read The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, and the entire premise of this movie ratcheted my geekcitement up to 11.  I’m interested to see how the filmmakers will compare with the author of The Supergirls.

Has anything touched your heart today?  Maybe made you squee a little?  Share your excitement with me in the comments below!

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Kink

When visiting my local Good Vibrations a couple of weeks ago, I was very excited to see a copy of Tristan Taormino’s newest book, The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge, displayed prominently among fetish accoutrements.  I eagerly picked up a copy, and devoured it from cover to cover in three sittings.

I have previously discussed my adoration of Ms. Taormino’s work before, and she showed once again how well she understands the world of non-normative sexuality.  Instead of writing the entire book herself, she sought out the experts in each subject and asked each of them to write an essay about their experiences.

The list of authors in this book reads as a veritable who’s who in the space of kink, and each voice shines through when they are talking about their area of expertise.  Midori, Mollena Williams, Ignacio Rivera, and Madison Young (sites are all NSFW, depending on your workplace) are among the contributors who bare their souls and their sexuality for the sake of education.  Each chapter covers a different subject, and every area is discussed thoughtfully and with respect to the practitioners.

With topics ranging from the topics people usually think of as kink: sadism, masochism, bondage, submission and dominance; to the less public faces of kink, like age play and edge play, this book is as close to perfect as possible.  If you are interested in kink, either intellectually or would like to practice, this book is a great tool to learn to articulate your thoughts and desires.  Longtime practitioners, who are generally in a never-ending quest to learn more about their desires and the desires of their partners, will also find the viewpoints interesting and informative.

Overall, I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Kink.  Ms. Taormino, thank you for putting together such a fantastic overview of the broad spectrum of kink.  Once again, I tip my proverbial hat to you.

 

You can help support Nice Girls by purchasing The Ultimate Guide to Kink through the Amazon link above.  A portion of each sale goes towards keeping my blog up and running!

Book Review: Sex at Dawn

If you’re a fan of Dan Savage, you’ve probably heard Dan talking about this book on his podcast, Savage Love back in 2010.    In the book, authors Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. and Cacilda Jethá, M.D. explore “The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.”

Covering everything from the form and function of the modern human, to the ways that we act in relationships, Sex at Dawn turned the study of human sexuality upside down.  Through observing and drawing parallels between modern humans, and our evolutionary cousins, the Bonobo chimpanzee, the authors draw the conclusion that modern humans have a difficult time with monogamy because we are genetically engineered towards multiple partners.

On the website for Sex at Dawn, a chart by Franklin Veaux maps the different relationships that modern humans engage in.  The overlap is fascinating.

Although it may seem that the authors are advocating for non-monogamous relationships, they claim that is not their purpose.  An excerpt from the FAQ on the website for Sex at Dawn:

So you’re recommending the everyone should have an open marriage or not get married at all?

Definitely not. We’re not recommending anything other than knowledge, introspection, and honesty. In fact, as we say in the book, we’re not really sure what to do with this information ourselves. We hope Sex at Dawn advances the conversation about human sexuality so people can focus more on the realities of what human beings are and a bit less on the religious and cultural mythologies concerning what we should be and should feel. What individuals or couples do with this information (if anything) is up to them.

It took me longer than I expected to read Sex at Dawn, because each page has information that borders on revelation.  I found myself having to stop frequently just to absorb each new piece of information.  I am normally the type of person who breezes through books, but I simply couldn’t do it with Sex at Dawn.  The authors did an amazing job at fully researching the topic, and presenting it in a way that is entirely accessible to those of us who are not in the academic field.

If you are struggling with any sort of infidelity in your relationships, read this book.  If you found yourself suddenly no longer attracted to a partner after going off of hormonal birth control, read this book.  If you are curious about how and why the modern human body and sexual organs are shaped differently than every other species, read this book.

If you’d like to support Nice Girls, you can purchase Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality through this link.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I will receive a small amount of the price of your purchase.  Thanks!

Book Reviews!

All right, now that I am back on my feet, and no longer sick, I want to do some book reviews for you all!  The only problem is, I’m a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume of books that would be relevant to Nice Girls.  Seriously, everyone, I went through the “self help” section on Amazon, and I found over 100 books that seem like my readers might be interested in reading.  Here is my list on Amazon.

So, I want to hear from YOU!  Is there a book that you’ve had your eye on, but you’re not sure if it’s worth the time to read?  Is there a book that you’d like my perspective on?  Anything I missed on my list?  Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Choice Effect

To be honest, I don’t remember purchasing The Choice Effect by Amalia McGibbon, Lara Vogel, and Claire A. Williams, for my Kindle, but I just finished reading it two nights ago.  I wasn’t impressed.  On one hand, I commend the authors for writing a semi-sex-positive book about dating (except they portray men as completely disposable), and some of the interesting problems the Millennial generation faces.  On the other hand I finished the book feeling vaguely insulted by some of the ways they characterize my generation, and I became increasingly annoyed by the constant pop culture references.

Their term for the ladies currently in their 20s, “choisters” is an interesting portmanteau created from the word “choice” and the phrase “the world is your oyster”.  The entire book revolves around their hypothesis that because, as a generation, we are more mobile and more connected to the world, we are paralyzed by the plethora of choices available to us and refuse to commit to anything.

When it comes to jobs and a place to live, the economy and ever changing job market are the main factors in my generation’s inability to “settle down”.  By and large, companies are no longer promoting from within and rewarding loyalty and increase in job responsibility with higher titles or compensation.  I read articles all the time bemoaning how it doesn’t pay to invest in Millennial employees, because they leave the company in a few years anyway.  It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It no longer pays off to be a “company (wo)man”.   When you’re looking for a new job every two or three years in order to experience career growth, it becomes difficult to put down roots.

Likewise, with such volatility in the job market, it is difficult to make what is ostensibly a lifetime commitment to a partner unless one or both of you have a mobile career, or an agreement to move if the other person is presented with an amazing opportunity.  The latter can lead to an imbalance in the relationship if one partner is unable to find a job in the new area, or cannot contribute to the household finances as they did previously.

While it is true that my generation is delaying marriage and family life to a much later age than previous generations, I disagree with the authors’ assertion that it is because the women of my generation are constantly looking for someone “better” than the person they are currently dating.  The notion that we are all a bunch of commitment-phobes who just can’t choose a partner, or a job, or a city to live in rings false to my ears.  I’d argue that my generation’s hesitation to commit to a partner, job, or city is born of intelligent caution, and is a legitimate choice, in and of itself.

In the end, it is hard to take a book seriously when the authors are constantly dropping pop culture references to songs, movies, TV shows, and even mobile applications left and right.  I sincerely hope I didn’t pay anything for this book (I can’t find the receipt, I looked), because it wasn’t worth the e-ink it was printed with.

Book Review: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

The movie Think Like a Man has de-throned The Hunger Games as #1 in the box office this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know, Think Like a Man is based off of a self-help and dating advice book by comedian Steve Harvey entitled  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. I read this book a few years back, and had mixed feelings. Some of the advice given to women is sound, and other pieces are misguided. Read the rest of this entry

Book Review: The Purity Myth

The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti is a must-read for young women, and anyone who may ever be the parent of a young woman. The author explores the “Cult of Virginity” and the effects it has on today’s young women. In valuing women solely for their unpenetrated state, this movement does exactly what it purports to abhor: it turns them into sex objects. Read the rest of this entry

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