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Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture Paperback – April 16, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573448990
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573448994
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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,

From the Back Cover

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.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
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See all 18 customer reviews
Now, I love the work of the editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and especially the guest judge, Carol Queen.
It is a collection of stories by several writers discussing a popular icon, diversity, and personal experiences within a sexual framework.
Amazon Customer
My bookshelves are filled with explicit sex writings, both fiction and non-fiction, and this anthology stands out as one of the best.
Susana Mayer, Ph.D.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dan E. Nicholas on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
Best Sex Writing 2013--The State of Today's Sexual Culture, by Rachel Bussel & Carol Queen

I've met both these editors, attended the book talk last year when Susie Bright was guest judge, tale picker. Taking a tour with the minds and hearts of these two editors Bussel and Queen and their 20 writers is like getting out. As in: Get out much? I was able to tour wildly differing worlds, places where sexuality takes the human soul. Tim Tebow's Celibacy (Jon Pressick's Holy F___: The Fourth and Long Virgin) was dear; as was a severely rocky polyamory road laid down by Nicholas Garnett in When on Fire Island...A Polyamorous Disaster; or the chief editor's own Age Play cherry popping evening. The experience of being asked to do her best Mommy with a grown up naked man friend one night opened up her own best heart to her own best self. Nice. And scary. Insiya Ansari's honest telling of God in her bedroom, her Sex By Any Other Name on trying to wait to have Real P in the V Sex until after marriage: lived this one so during my Baptist years. Honest, painful writing here that takes us all back; and forward.

Twenty stories in all. Every one non fiction. What I found super about the Bussel collection in this 6th in a series (IPPY award winner each time) is that she takes you every year to places with her writers you'll need five life times to see. This lady puts it out. As in 40+ anthologies she has published while getting publishing a hundred more. Good erotica is great when you can find it; but non-fiction sex writing has always impacted me the most as it is almost like a photograph in it's unnice take on untouched reality.

When I tour occasional porn I always end up coming back to being a word guy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David L. Houston on June 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
It's difficult to overstate the quality of this book. I've followed the series for some time now, using one edition as a required text in a class on Sex, Gender & Culture. This is a wonderful collection of real writing. We're not talking about erotica or titillation (though t times, honestly, some of that happens in the best way possible). What we have in this book (and, I think, all it's predecessors) is a portrait of sex and sexuality, told in a special way, presented in a perspective that is unique and enduring.

We can laugh out loud at Andy Isaacson's story of growing up and vibrators. Rachel Swan's Sex By Numbers is one of the more cogent, honest pieces about the realities of polyamory I've read. Aging in retirement and the amusing (thought annoying) preponderance of social rules highlights the chapter by Alex Morris. Bisexuality - frequently overlooked - is explored through pain in a chapter by Seth Fischer. I am drawn back to the haunting sound of 'Nowhere Man' by the doubt and fear conveyed in "Rest Stop Confidential". Again we find polyamory, and how this seemingly open approach can become normative in a chapter by Nicholas Garnett. Jon Pressick's sex positivity is refreshing. Rachel Kramer Bussel's own "Baby Talk" explores deep connections and sharing. Lori Selke's words are a testimonial to personal growth. Patrick Califia describes a perfect scene with the precision of a Julia Child. Madison Young's dilemma as a mom and a feminist jumps out at us. We could be that person. Carol Queen is Lazarus-like in the retrospective on past loves. There is agency, suffocation, safety, politics and, oh yes, porn. Every chapter is powerful and wonderful. It's a long list.

For me, though, Julia Serano really is the cherry to be picked in her "Cherry Picking".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TammyJo Eckhart VINE VOICE on May 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've read my fair share of essays, studies, and opinions about human sexuality over the years as a historian of gender and sexuality, an alternative sex educator, and just as a woman trying to be more aware of the world around me. This year we have another installment of Rachel Kramer Bussel's "Best Sex Writing" series with 20 essays in one volume.

The majority of these are personal essays that look back on particular events or periods of the author's life such as Jonathan Lethem's recounting of how artist endeavors focused on the human body didn't change his horny teens years in "Live Nude Models" or "Sex by Any Other Name" from Insiya Ansari that examines a conservative upbringing and the realities of one woman's teen and young adult years. The personal account is particularly useful for examining sexuality because how can the reader simply discount your own personal reflections. However such biographies can also be seen as merely one person's experience.

However there are other types of articles collected here ranging from business stories, discussion of studies on social trends, political commentary, and my favorite, historical accounts. Of all of these I found my own deepest connection with Lori Selke's "Dear John" that looks at the disappointment an experienced BDSMers of decades can feel as the Scene has been trending quite differently than what we remember and not always in ways us old folks agree with.

Over all there is something for almost everyone and the only thing I really had to say by the end was in the form of this question: How were the essays chosen? I'd be thrilled if that had been addressed in the introduction.
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