Your Shelf Life
5 Naughty Books for the Nightstand
The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)
If you’re a fan of the NPR show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me, then you’ll happily follow host Peter Sagal on his journey to discover how the lascivious live. He visits clubs for swinging couples, strip clubs, porn sets and other gatherings of ill repute in hopes of discovering what tempts and feeds humanity’s vices. He leaves moral censure to the righteous and focuses on the humanity of his subjects. $14, petersagal.com.
The Naughty Bits: The Steamiest and Most Scandalous Sex Scenes from the World’s Great Books
Called “the book that literary perverts have been waiting for,” The Naughty Bits features risqué excerpts from the literary canon and beyond. Apparently, even Plato’s The Symposium has some racy moments. Who knew? Among the 70 authors excerpted are the Marquis de Sade (surprise), Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce, Dante and Toni Morrison. Jack Murnighan should know whereof he writes, having served as editor-in-chief of the popular sex Web site nerve.com. $14, powells.com.
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
For a funny and engaging read about the science of sex, the best bet is Mary Roach’s Bonk. The author’s wide-ranging curiosity takes her to science labs, brothels and sex-toy R&D labs. Her gift is making the science and medical research fun to read, but she also asks questions that have plagued researchers for decades, such as “What’s the deal with the female orgasm?” $14, maryroach.net.
Written on the Body
Sexing the Cherry
British author Jeanette Winterson is a sensualist’s writer. In both these novels, she writes of the body, sexual identity and obsession in lush prose. Sexing the Cherry is surreal and bawdy, a Fellini-like romp through 17th-century England — that is, if Fellini had been a violent feminist. Written on the Body is a more intimate look at an absorbing affair and how sex and love play out when the body becomes ill. $14, jeanettewinterson.com.
Art: A Sex Book
“Contemporary art is sex... it’s all about sex,” writes filmmaker and artist John Waters in the introduction. The “Pope of Trash” and art critic Bruce Hainley chose 70 contemporary artists to explore how sex inspires their art. In addition to the 176 illustrations, Waters and Hainley include their own discussion, some of the best material in the book. The authors pose questionnaires for 14 of the artists, whose responses add more insight into the relationship between sex and art. $29.95, thamesandhudsonusa.com.