Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture

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A Different Kind of Sex Education

The Best Sex Writing series has fundamentally changed the way people think—and what they say—about sexuality. Rachel Kramer Bussel has collected the year’s most challenging, literate and provocative pieces on this endlessly fascinating subject.

Major commentators examine the many roles sex plays in our lives, including Jonathan Lethem, who looks back on his first experience of being a young artist in a room ...

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Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture

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A Different Kind of Sex Education

The Best Sex Writing series has fundamentally changed the way people think—and what they say—about sexuality. Rachel Kramer Bussel has collected the year’s most challenging, literate and provocative pieces on this endlessly fascinating subject.

Major commentators examine the many roles sex plays in our lives, including Jonathan Lethem, who looks back on his first experience of being a young artist in a room with “Live Nude Models.” Rachel Swan’s “Sex by Numbers” does some data crunching on polyamory, which turns out to be one of the fastest growing relationship styles. “Very Legal” is a surprising survey of senior sex by Alex Morris, and Melissa Gira Grant’s “Happy Hookers” is an insider look at the normalization of prostitution.

Judged by the incomparable Dr. Carol Queen, this stunning collection of sex-smart essays stirs the heart and the most important sex organ of all—the brain. From bisexuality to feminist BDSM and better vibrators, condoms in porn and Tim Tebow’s virginity, Best Sex Writing 2013 offers the smartest views on contemporary sexual culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“If I had to compare this book to a physical object, it would be a box of chocolates. But not fluffy, easy chocolates – I’m not talking Russell Stover, here. I’m talking complex chocolates, probably with liqueur in them. The kind you get from the tiny chocolate shop housed in a barn that you drive a bunch out of your way to go taste. Each chocolate is filled with nuance and undertone, with complex flavors with which you need to spend time. These kinds of chocolates are the kind you need to eat slowly, break apart, analyze. Enjoy one at a time.”

"This literary and entertaining volume serves as a sexual almanac, mapping the ever changing topography of America's sensual landscape."
—Creative Loafing Tampa

"Best Sex Writing 2013 is a step in this direction of thoughtful discourse."
City Book Review

"I did not find one story among the 20 that was not worth a read. Best Sex Writing 2013 is, as its name boldly states, just that: the best."
Washington Times

"In this latest annual nonfiction anthology, Rachel has collected a range of the year's most challenging, detailed non-ficton essays, examining many aspects of sexuality. While autobiographical in many cases, her commentators bring in historical, political, economic considerations, with the carnal."
Sex City CIUT

"The essays in Best Sex Writing 2013 push boundaries, provide daring narratives, and explore a vast array of sexual expressions. Rachel Kramer Bussel manages to cull a variety of authors that share their voices in unexpected ways. And when I say unexpected, I mean it!"
—JSJ Therapy

"We’ve always loved Cleis Press’s yearly Best Sex Writing anthologies edited by one of our favorite sexy feminists."
—Sexy Feminist

"It may make you question many of the things you ‘think’ you know about the state of our sexual culture today and in my mind that’s always a good thing!"

"Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, these essays explore the role sex plays in today's society. Subjects covered include polyamory, sex among seniors and the normalisation of prostitution."
Erotic Trade Only, Issue 115

"A great mix of funny, serious and informative articles and it certainly opened my eyes to a whole new world of experiences."
—Cara Sutra

"What I want is for my children to have the knowledge and language and comfort to be able to discuss sex, without shame, in all its myriad forms, with whomever they choose – but most of all with themselves. This book is a good start to accomplishing that."
— Jade Melisande

"A collection worth reading for the broad overview of the landscape it gives."
—Julian Arancia

"Self identified sex geek or not, odds are you’ll devour this book. Self identified sex geek or not, odds are you’ll find something within its pages that resonates with you. You’ll find something liberating, inspiring, and something make makes you think, “Huh, I never thought about it that way.”
Hands down, this compilation contains some of the best writings of sex and sexuality I have ever read."
— Sunny Megatron

"If you want to learn more about a massively varied variety of kinds of sex, ideas about sex, perspectives on sex… Best Sex Writing 2013 is a great place to go."
—Greta Christina

"Best Sex Writing 2013 is an excellent snapshot of the modern world of sexuality and the stories are diverse ranging from informative, to titillating–and of course provocative."
— Danielle Paradis

"I can happily say I’ve learnt an awful lot about sex from this book and I’ve enjoyed some truly excellent writing. Even if you’re a fiction fan, I would still recommend that you give this one a go – because remember what they say, truth can be stranger than fiction – or funnier or more moving or sadder… and certainly more interesting!"
— Tamsin Flowers

"Cleis Press and Rachel Kramer Bussel always deliver quality writing on the topic of sex, and this year’s Best Sex Writing is no exception. This collection of 20 essays span a broad range of topics, writing styles, and voices that are all provocative. While a few stirred me sexually, largely this book challenged me to think more."
— My Whole Sex Life

"You’re going to find something to stimulate thought and debate within these pages; you may even find something that liberates your own sexual feelings."
—Victoria Blisse

"This edition has some of my favorite folks writing about sex (Patrick Califia, Melissa Gira Grant, and Madison Young!)"
— Feminist Allies

"We as a community of sex educators, activists, workers—we as people—all have stories to share that are equally important. This is one such book that is as inspirational as it is educational, and it gives a collective voice to people and stories that are long overdue to be heard."
— Geeky Nymph

"This collection of essays is, as the blurb on the back of the book suggests, 'challenging, literate and provocative'"
—Jason Armstrong

"Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and selected and introduced by Carol Queen there are a lot of very interesting articles/essay's upon the modern attitude to sex and the state of today's sexual culture. They do not shy away from saying it how it is and allowing people to widen their perspective. I won't pull out any single piece of writing because in all honesty I couldn't they all have their own slant on the sexual culture and all do it in their own unique and very interesting way."
—The Gestalt Boudoir

"If you want to stimulate your largest sex organ – your brain – grab a copy of this book and let yourself explore the spectrum of human sexual experience. You’ll find it as enriching as it is exciting."
—Pleasure Mechanics

This is an amazing book. The essays are interesting and unique without being boring. They aren’t just rehashing some of the old facts of the year. Instead, they’re looking into the history of sexuality as well as seeing how these issues could change the future of sexuality too. All of the essays are well-written and enjoyable to read."
—Pop My Cherry

"You'll be as absorbed as I was by most of the essays here. Some are political; some are intensely personal. All are well-chosen and well-written. If you're a sex geek, as I am, you'll devour this book."
— Joan Price, author of Naked at Our Age

Praise for the 2012 edition:

"This book highlights not only the diversity of sexual issues prevalent in the public discourse but likewise the importance of all things sexual to human culture . . . Readers interested in sexuality and its role in politics and culture will find something of interest in this eclectic volume. A great opportunity to discover new voices, new sources, and new information on the subject of sex."
Library Journal

"The essays here comprise a detailed, direct survey of the contemporary American sexual landscape . . . Major commentators examine the many roles sex plays in our lives in these literate and lively essays."
—Erotic Readers and Writers Association

"This is an exceptional collection of works - one worth owning."
—Steve Isaak

"A snapshot of current “hot topics” related to sex in the U.S."

"Sober, serious, and though-provoking even when dealing with the most inflammatory of human issues, Best Sex Writing 2012 lives up to its title and is worthy of the highest recommendation."
The Midwest Book Review

"A must-read book, regardless of which sex you like."
—Diane Anderson-Minshall,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573448994
  • Publisher: Cleis Press
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 212
  • Sales rank: 1,410,653
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Kramer Bussel edits the Sex Diaries for New York Magazine and hosts SRO readings around the country. Rachel formerly wrote the "Lusty Lady" sex column for The Village Voice and was the longtime senior editor of Penthouse Variations. She has edited the Best Sex Writing series since 2008. She is a prolific erotica editor, and her titles include Spanked, He’s on Top, She’s on Top, Passion, and Do Not Disturb. Visit her at
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In my lifetime, I've only read a few books that made me finish t

    In my lifetime, I've only read a few books that made me finish the last page and turn back to the first for an immediate reread, and Best Sex Writing 2013 is one of them. Who knew one small trade paperback could hold so much information? This book made me think and rethink in ways I never thought about thinking before. It shares stories I've never heard and opens a new way of seeing some that I have. It should come out once a month instead of only once a year. Yeah, I have a nice-sized stack of to-be-reads sitting beside my bed that are hungry for my attention, and it's all I can do not to flip to the first page again and read for the third time.

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