“Few of us are remotely normal sexually,” de Botton (The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work) writes in this accessible philosophical meditation. But though “[w]e are universally deviant,” the author opines that we are thus “only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality.” Acknowledging that feelings of aberrancy are “aggravated by the idea that we belong to a liberated age,” de Botton goes on to explore, in two illuminating sections, “The Pleasures” and “The Problems of Sex.” The former addresses topics like biological and physiological reactions to sex, fetishes, fashion, and the subjectivity of beauty, while the latter deals with impotency, sexual rejection, pornography, adultery, and more. De Botton is never prescriptive, and the intellectual rigor of his investigation prevents this book from settling into a self-help reference guide. After all, his aim is to guide readers in how to think about sex in a different way, not to teach them how to have it. While he hypothesizes that the world would be far simpler if sex were taken out of the equation, the pragmatic yet optimistic de Botton concludes that “the pain sex causes us” is worth it, “for without it we wouldn’t know art and music quite so well.” Agent: Caroline Dawnay, United Agents (U.K.). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2012 Release date: 12/24/2012 Genre: Nonfiction
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