Between the sheets: top 10 most provocative books of 2012


Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships. (1/3/2012).
By Kayt Sukel.

Pubisher's Description: In the wake of a divorce, science writer and single mother Kayt Sukel made herself a guinea pig in the labs of some unusual love experts to find out what science has to say about love. In each chapter of this edgy romp through the romantic brain, Sukel looks at a different aspect of love above the belt. What in your brain makes you love someone—or simply lust after them? (And is there really a difference?) Why do good girls like bad boys? Is monogamy practical? How thin is that line between love and hate? Do mothers have a stronger bond with their children than their fathers do? How do our childhood experiences affect our emotional control? Should you be taking an oxytocin supplement to improve your luck in love? Who is most at risk for love addiction? In her search for truth, Sukel also has an fMRI during orgasm, ponders a cure for heartbreak, and samples a pheromone spray called Boarmate.


Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality. (1/31/2012).
By Hanne Blank.

Publisher's Description: A sweeping history of heterosexuality—from its origins in nineteenth-century Germany to the court cases and controversies of today. Heterosexuality is not a fact of nature, it’s a nineteenth-century invention, only about as old as the traffic light. Hanne Blank digs deep into the past of sexual orientation while simultaneously exploring its contemporary psyche. Illuminating the hidden patterns in centuries of events and trends, Blank shows how culture creates and manipulates the ways we think about and experience desire, love, and relationships between men and women.


The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution (5/1/2012)
by Faramerz Dabhoiwala

Publisher's Description: For millennia, sex had been strictly regulated by the Church, the state, and society, who vigorously and brutally attempted to punish any sex outside of marriage. But by 1800, everything had changed. Drawing on vast research—from canon law to court cases, from novels to pornography, not to mention the diaries and letters of people great and ordinary—Dabhoiwala shows how this dramatic change came about, tracing the interplay of intellectual trends, religious and cultural shifts, and politics and demographics. The Enlightenment led to the presumption that sex was a private matter; that morality could not be imposed; that men, not women, were the more lustful gender. Moreover, the rise of cities eroded community-based moral policing, and religious divisions undermined both church authority and fear of divine punishment.


Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire (5/8/2012)
by Eric Berkowitz

Publisher's Description: At any given point in time, some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly. Jump forward or backward a century or two (and often far less than that), and the harmless fun of one time period becomes the gravest crime in another. This book tells the story of the struggle throughout the millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behavior. Eric Berkowitz uses flesh-and-blood cases—much flesh and even more blood—to evoke the entire sweep of Western sex law, from the savage impalement of an Ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in 1895 for “gross indecency.”


Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex. (6/26/2012)
Edited by Erica Jong.

Publisher's Description: This collection of essays reveals that every woman has her own answer for what women want. Susan Cheever talks about the "excruciating hazards of casual sex." " In "Everything Must Go," Jennifer Weiner explores how, in love, the body can play just as big a role as the heart. The octogenarians in Karen Abbott's sharp-eyed piece possess a passion that could give Betty White a run for her money. Molly Jong-Fast reflects on her unconventional upbringing and why a whole generation of young women has rejected "free love" in favor of Bugaboo strollers and Mommy-and-me yoga.

Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America (9/11/2012)
by Nancy L. Cohen

Publisher's Description: Cohen exposes the surprising role of right-wing women in undermining women’s rights, as well as explains how liberal men were complicit in letting it happen. Cohen uncovers the hidden history of an orchestrated, well-financed, ideologically powered shadow movement to turn back the clock on matters of gender equality and sexual freedom and how it has played a leading role in fueling America’s political wars. Delirium tells the story of this shadow movement and how we can restore common sense and sanity in our nation’s politics.

The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (9/13/2012)
by Larry Young and Brian Alexander

Publisher's Description: All those complex behaviors surrounding human bonding are unconsciously driven by a few molecules in our brains. How does love begin? How can a man say he loves his wife, yet still cheat on her? Why do others stay in relationships even after the romance fades? How is it possible to fall in love with the “wrong” person? Physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, mother-infant bonding—all the behaviors that so often leave us befuddled—are now being teased out of the fog of mystery thanks to today’s social neuroscience.

The Dawn of the Deed: The Prehistoric Origins of Sex. (9/21/2012)
by John A. Long

Publisher's Description: In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long revealed his discovery of a placoderm fish fossil, known as “the mother fish.” At 380 million years old, this fish offers the earliest known example of internal fertilization. Placoderms are now considered to be the first species to have had sex as we know it—sort of. Inspired by this find, Long began a quest to uncover the paleontological and evolutionary history of copulation and insemination. He takes readers on an entertaining and lively tour through the sex lives of ancient fish and exposes the unusual mating habits of arthropods, tortoises, and even a well-endowed (16.5 inches!) Argentine Duck. Long discusses these significant discoveries alongside what we know about reproductive biology and evolutionary theory, using the fossil record to provide a provocative account of prehistoric sex.

Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality
by Suzy Spencer (10/2/2012)

Publisher's Description: Suzy Spencer posted a simple online request: “Need to talk about sex…” Soon she started talking to people—from across America of all ages and sexual orientations—who make no apology for how they fire their imaginations and satisfy their desires. Soon she found herself invited to be a voyeur—listening in on phone sex and attending BDSM mixers and workshops. Secret Sex Lives is an intimate account of a journalist who is seduced by her subject; a woman who sets out to look behind closed doors but ends up on a personal, revealing journey to find herself.

An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner (11/20/2012)
by Cheryl T. Cohen-Greene and Lorna Garano

Publisher's Description: A candid look into the personal and professional life of a surrogate partner, examining the cultural and emotional ramifications of pursuing something most people do not immediately understand. The memoir opens with Cohen Greene's work with Mark O'Brien, who was confined to an iron lung after contracting polio at age six. Their relationship is depicted in the new film, The Sessions, with Helen Hunt.

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