50 Shades of Grey – Eroticism? Or Not-iscism? This one hasn’t passed my shelf yet, for which I am eternally grateful, yet I feel compelled to suggest some other titles in a similar vein for those readers who like to sit on the sidelines of the hype and imply that what they are reading is far more highbrow than the selections of the common herd.
First! May I suggest to you Alan Bennet’s enticingly named Smut: two unseemly stories? This delightful little tome presents two engaging stories that romp along with spirit and humour. My pick of the two stories is the first, in which a lady in her autumn years invites two young lodgers into her home to assist with her financial situation. It need not be said, given the title of the book, that the situations in which our heroine finds herself extend well beyond the financial. This book, while only a quick read in itself, provides far more bang for your buck (pun intended) than its size might first suggest. More to the point, it contains no brooding, damaged men presented as the epitome of woman’s desire. Just a bit of situational comdedy based around rumpy-pumpy in an old woman’s spare bedroom.
Next! I would like to present for your consideration The Toyboy Diaries by Wendy Salisbury. Continuing the theme of ladies of a certain age, this autobiographical offering provides an insight into the life of an intelligent, successful and driven woman, who happens to enjoy the company of (much!)younger men. Salisbury is honest, funny and, in turns, both apologetic and unashamed about her conquests and the explicit detail in which she recounts them. Be careful – this book is highly engaging, and one may find oneself having to read just one more chapter to find out how each encounter ends.
For a change of pace – and those who like to pretend that they are only reading Playboy for the articles, as it were – allow me to introduce you to The Sex Diaries Project by Arianne Cohen. This book grew from a blog in which the author invited readers to anonymously contribute a week’s worth of their personal diary. Already, you may think, this seems like a voyeur’s dream, but wait! There’s more! The diaries in question were to focus on the writer’s sexual thoughts and behaviour – any fantasy, fleeting fancy, or factual action (or lack thereof!) was to be recorded in detail over a period of seven days. Readers responded to this challenge with gusto, thereby creating the impetus for this fascinating book. Highly readable, it presents the anonymous diaries of people from a diverse group of ages, races and sexualities. There’s something for everyone in this one…and the best part is, if anyone asks, you can pretend you are reading it as part of a modern sociology course you happen to be enrolled in. That you haven’t mentioned to anyone before. Because it’s only for really clever people.
I hope this has encouraged you to move beyond the confines of the much-hyped books of this genre, towards some less lauded, yet no less worthy, offerings.
Until next time,