How to Think More About Sex [NOOK Book]

Overview

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE IS DEDICATED TO EXPLORING LIFE'S BIG QUESTIONS IN HIGHLY-PORTABLE PAPERBACKS, FEATURING FRENCH FLAPS AND DECKLE EDGES, THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS "DAMNABLY CUTE." WE DON'T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT WE WILL DIRECT YOU TOWARDS A VARIETY OF USEFUL IDEAS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STIMULATE, PROVOKE, AND CONSOLE.

We don't think too much about sex; we're merely ...

See more details below
How to Think More About Sex

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE IS DEDICATED TO EXPLORING LIFE'S BIG QUESTIONS IN HIGHLY-PORTABLE PAPERBACKS, FEATURING FRENCH FLAPS AND DECKLE EDGES, THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLS "DAMNABLY CUTE." WE DON'T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT WE WILL DIRECT YOU TOWARDS A VARIETY OF USEFUL IDEAS THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO STIMULATE, PROVOKE, AND CONSOLE.

We don't think too much about sex; we're merely thinking about it in the wrong way.

So asserts Alain de Botton in this rigorous and supremely honest book designed to help us navigate the intimate and exciting---yet often confusing and difficult---experience that is sex. Few of us tend to feel we're entirely normal when it comes to sex, and what we're supposed to be feeling rarely matches up with the reality. This book argues that twenty-first-century sex is ultimately fated to be a balancing act between love and desire, and adventure and commitment. Covering topics that include lust, fetishism, adultery, and pornography, Alain de Botton frankly articulates the dilemmas of modern sexuality, offering insights and consolation to help us think more deeply and wisely about the sex we are, or aren't, having.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dwight Garner
It's nerdy-dirty, a kind of nonfiction analog to Nicholson Baker's 1992 phone-sex novel, Vox…One of the best things about this book is that Mr. de Botton allows his mind to wander to some strange, counterintuitive places…How to Think More About Sex is an honest book that's on the prowl for honest insight.
Publishers Weekly
“Few of us are remotely normal sexually,” de Botton (The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work) writes in this accessible philosophical meditation. But though “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.)
From the Publisher
“Many books of pop psychology or pop philosophy try to contend straightforwardly with what ails our age; Alain de Botton's wonderful How to Think More About Sex comes to mind, an example of an intelligent person helpfully untying some knots that bind us.”—Sheila Heti, The New York Times Book Review

How to Think More About Sex is a meditation on how comprehensively disruptive our urges can be...an honest book that’s on the prowl for honest insight....Self-Help Books for the Rest of Us.”—The New York Times

“It’s like Cosmo meets Plato—finally!”—Salon

“Even if our sexual partners don’t excite us, this writer’s piquant prose will.”—More

“De Botton’s concept breathes ambition far beyond the chicken-soup-of-the-month formula.”—The News & Observer

“De Botton is never prescriptive, and the intellectual rigor of his investigation prevents this book from settling into a self-help reference guide.”—Publishers Weekly

“By encouraging readers to understand their desires and manifestations of sexuality in new and more reflective ways, de Botton’s addition to the School of Life series offers a tantalizing discourse on this endlessly fascinating, and eternally misunderstood, subject.”—Booklist

“[de Botton] offers a collection of essays that, taken as a whole, serve to pull sexuality into a philosophical consideration of our drives and desires, to illuminate how we can make sense of the urges that drive us senseless....A well-rounded examination of the ways we can marry intelligent thought and physical pleasure.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In an age of moral and practical confusions, the self-help book is crying out to be redesigned and rehabilitated. The School of Life announces a rebirth with a series that examines the great issues of life, including money, sanity, work, technology, and the desire to alter the world for the better.”—Alain de Botton, The School of Life Series Editor

“The School of Life offers radical ways to help us raid the treasure trove of human knowledge.”—The Independent on Sunday (London)

Kirkus Reviews
It's not the quantity of thought about sex, but rather the quality of thought about sex. The title begs for all manner of dubious wisecracking, but the narrative is not easily pigeonholed. De Botton (Religion for Atheists, 2011, etc.), who founded the publisher's School of Life series, of which this book is a part, acknowledges early on that navigating the straits of sexuality, intimacy and eroticism is a challenge for the best-adjusted of us, and that group is a miniscule subset of humanity. "Despite being one of the most private of activities," writes the author, "sex is nonetheless surrounded by a range of powerful socially sanctioned ideas that codify how normal people are meant to feel about and deal with the matter." He offers a collection of essays that, taken as a whole, serve to pull sexuality into a philosophical consideration of our drives and desires, to illuminate how we can make sense of the urges that drive us senseless. The chapters alternate between the physical and emotional/mental give-and-take, and de Botton occasionally takes a devil's advocate approach to questions on touchy subjects such as adultery. If the partner who engages in adultery has succumbed to a horrible weakness, shouldn't we spend time praising our partners for their strength in fidelity, rather than assume it's a natural state of being? How do we reconcile the Puritanical wall between love and sex, where the former is goodness and the latter is carnal--and where exactly does this divide happen? Is there justification when a long-term partner feels differently about what quantity of sexual relations is ideal? What can we discern from the changing nature of pornography? The author considers these and many other sex-related questions in this book, which is divided into the "pleasures" of sex and the "problems" of sex. A well-rounded examination of the ways we can marry intelligent thought and physical pleasure.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250030665
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 12/24/2012
  • Series: School of Life
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 199,726
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Alain de Botton is the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, as well as numerous other works of fiction and essays. He is well-known for making complex philosophical and artistic subjects accessible for a wider audience. De Botton founded the School of Life, a series of lectures in London that aim to make academic learning applicable to real life. With the success of the school, this concept was adapted into The School of Life book series. De Botton lives and works in London.


Alain de Botton is the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, as well as numerous other works of fiction and essays. He is well-known for making complex philosophical and artistic subjects accessible for a wider audience. De Botton founded the School of Life, a series of lectures in London that aim to make academic learning applicable to real life. With the success of the school, this concept was adapted into The School of Life book series. De Botton lives and works in London.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


Introduction

It is rare to get through this life without feeling­ generally with a degree of secret agony, perhaps at the end of a relationship, or as we lie in bed frustrated next to our partner, unable to go to sleep­ that we are somehow a bit odd about sex. It is an area in which most of us have a painful impression, in our heart of hearts, that we are quite unusual. Despite being one of the most private of activities, sex is nonetheless surrounded by a range of powerful socially sanctioned ideas that codify how normal people are meant to feel about and deal with the matter.

In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing that other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant - but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality.

Given how common it is to be strange, it is regrettable how seldom the realities of sexual life make it into the public realm. Most of what we are sexually remains impossible to communicate with anyone whom we would want to think well of us. Men and women in love will instinctively hold back from sharing more than a fraction of their desires out of a fear, usually accurate, of generating intolerable disgust in their partners. We may find it easier to die without having had certain conversations.

The priority of a philosophical book about sex seems evident: not to teach us how to have more intense or more frequent sex, but rather to suggest how, through a shared language, we might begin to feel a little less painfully strange about the sex we are either longing to have or struggling to avoid.

 

2.

Whatever discomfort we do feel around sex is commonly aggravated by the idea that we belong to a liberated age - and ought by now, as a result, to be finding sex a straightforward and untroubling matter.

The standard narrative of our release from our shackles goes something like this: for thousands of years across the globe, due to a devilish combination of religious bigotry and pedantic social custom, people were afflicted by a gratuitous sense of confusion and guilt around sex. They thought their hands would fall off if they masturbated. They believed they might be burned in a vat of oil because they had ogled someone's ankle. They had no clue about erections or clitorises. They were ridiculous.

Then, sometime between the First World War and the launch of Sputnik 1, things changed for the better. Finally, people started wearing bikinis, admitted to masturbating, grew able to mention cunnilingus in social contexts, started to watch porn films and became deeply comfortable with a topic that had, almost unaccountably, been the source of needless neurotic frustration for most of human history. Being able to enter into sexual relations with confidence and joy became as common an expectation for the modern era as feeling trepidation and guilt had been for previous ages. Sex came to be perceived as a useful, refreshing and physically reviving pastime, a little like tennis - something that everyone should have as often as possible in order to relieve the stresses of modern life.

This narrative of enlightenment and progress, however flattering it may be to our powers of reason and our pagan sensibilities, conveniently skirts an unbudging fact: sex is not something that we can ever expect to feel easily liberated from. It was not by mere coincidence that sex so disturbed us for thousands of years: repressive religious dictates and social taboos grew out of aspects of our nature that cannot now just be wished away. We were bothered by sex because it is a fundamentally disruptive, overwhelming and demented force, strongly at odds with the majority of our ambitions and all but incapable of being discreetly integrated within civilized society.

Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don't like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values. Unsurprisingly, we have no option but to repress its demands most of the time. We should accept that sex is inherently rather weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses.

This is not to say that we cannot take steps to grow wiser about sex. We should simply realize that we will never entirely surmount the difficulties it throws our way. Our best hope should be for a respectful accommodation with an anarchic and reckless power.

 

HOW TO THINK MORE ABOUT SEX. Copyright © 2012 by The School of Life. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Picador USA.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2013

    I am a huge van of Alain de Botton, and while worth an evening p

    I am a huge van of Alain de Botton, and while worth an evening perusal this is far from his best work. I think, perhaps, the title is the problem. "Some thoughts about sex" would be far more fitting. The author is brilliant, but I'd suggest starting elsewhere, perhaps his novel On Love. It offers just as many piquant insights into human sexuality but includes a plot.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Angela Shikany

    Very good. For adults of course. All adults.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    I VERY BAD

    ALWFUL FOR KIDS .I FEEL ASHAMED

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    Nothing new

    This book is not what the title suggests its about. The content was the same junk we hear again and again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)