I've marked it as "it was ok" which seems generous, although I'm not entirely sure "I didn't like it" is right either: rather the book doesn't do what it says on the cover. Unlike others in the series, it doesn't encourage you to think [about sex] - rather it tells us what de Botton thinks about sex.
Whilst I may not be prepared to go as far as to say I didn't like the book, I didn't like de Botton's view, for a number of reasons:
1. It was pretty much entirely heteronormative in its approach. 2. It was pretty much sold on the concept of coupledom and monogomy - no mention of polyamory, for example, and only the briefest of mentions of Open Relationships. 3. He had a limited and shallow discussion of fetishes, and these were of the mild kind. 4. His approach to pornography was puritanical.
Rather than a discussion of ways of thinking about sex, and its role in our lives, relationships and society, this was a lesson in de Botton's own thoughts about sex in heterosexual relationships.
One of my favourite writers though one of my least favourite subjects... When it popped up on screen it seemed an interesting way to gain an insight into a subject which I find utterly mysterious having unmeasurably low libido in a sex crazed world.
I would guess that most people are perplexed as to why sex does not work out for them as they had hoped, then they need to read this.
Short though it is, this is a hugely important book which I hope politicians and policy-makers are reading right now. AdB has some wonderful insights into the (non) functioning of long-term human relationships and some truly novel ideas about how to make things better.
I appreciate that labelling a book like this a polemic may put off readers but AdB has a poet's gift of expression and writes with disarming accessibility. There are also many lyrical passages which demand to be re-read for the sheer enjoyment of his style of expression.
Hard to think how the rest of the titles in this series can possibly live up to this.
...and that is what makes this book such an intriguing read. It's not meant to patronise you about sex and suggest you need to try harder with more effort, instead it's about examining the behaviour of yourself and possibly your partner to understand why we do the things that we do and perhaps celebrate these behaviours rather than push them away to the repressed corners of our minds.
I am a fan of Alain de Botton and find the tone in his books and essays to be measured and even and really do recommend this and other readings of his work.
Alain de Botton takes us on an unusual journey into the world of sex. But less of a teenage-snickering-at-rude-words venture or a "sexpert" telling us how mastery of the lotus position is the solution to all our sexual woes (I did chuckle at Alain's remarks to this very notion) - more a thoughtful glance from a completely different perspective. Philosophy and sex. Not a normal combination, I give you that... but Mr de Botton is frighteningly on the ball with a number of his observations, and paints a rather stark view of sex. His theories into eroticism and the lack of desire were particularly interesting
His tone is dry, yet charming. It's a bit dark but laced elegantly with some lashings of good humour and a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek to boot. His obsession with art, however, grated somewhat... Trudging through a whimsical, yet painfully detailed, fascination with a painting of a woman (personally I thought it was a creepy sort of painting I'd see in a Count Dracula's Castle), how the biblical Madonna is somewhat sexually alluring (The original MILF, I guess) and how our fascination with art depicts our sexual interests.
On a number of occasions I found that he barely skimmed the surface of a topic, or I challenged the idea and wanted more explanation - but was disappointed not to see him explore them further. Some topics weren't even graced with a mention at all - such as social attitudes to sex (i.e. Why are men and women judged so differently in terms of their sexual behaviours)... which left the book feeling a bit bare. It was like I went to a fancy restaurant and left after having the Starters. Lovely starter for sure... just not truly satisfying. It felt more like an introduction than a comprehensive look at sexuality and sexual attitudes
Overall, it wasn't a bad read. It's a quirky title that brings some interesting ideas to the fray... but as stated by another reviewer: It's more of a long essay than a book
The subject matter is complex to most of us. The author made a sound attempt at tackling it. He is correct about how porn on the internet can drag so many down into the pits, and how exploitative it is. As a writer he explores modern and ancient dilemmas that we face and gives useful solutions and suggestions.
A very enlightening book. Have read it twice and intend to read it again. Easy to understand, he sets you thinking... hopefully for everyone's benefit! A must read for couples.. .who need to be more understanding of each other's needs and feelings.