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My Secret Garden Paperback – February 5, 2008

102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

This book caused quite a ruckus when it was released 25 years ago because it directly quotes the sexual fantasies of dozens of women, ranging from the "very common" rape fantasy to lesbian affairs to unusually explicit scenarios that are unmentionable here. While author Nancy Friday maintains that My Secret Garden served to free millions of women from sexual oppression, there's still a need today to get rid of the guilt that millions more still feel when it comes to fantasizing, having orgasms, and making one's sexual wishes be known. "How could it be, you might ask," she writes, "that women today, at the turn of the century, would still think they were the only Bad Girls with erotic thoughts? What kind of prison is this that that women impose on themselves?"

My Secret Garden has the prurient appeal that made it one of the most passed-around books in high school study halls (it boasts chapters titled "Insatiability" and "The Thrill of the Forbidden"), but its premise, underneath the tales of lusty longings, is a serious one. Friday, also author of My Mother, My Self and Women on Top, is appalled at how parents, especially mothers, instill in their children a deep fear of sexual pleasure, and she advises how to do away with this stultifying force. While Friday can get a little histrionic at times ("Women's lust ... could bring down not only individuals, but society itself"), that doesn't make this book any less enthralling. --Erica Jorgensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Published in 1973 during the sexual revolution, this volume brought women's hardcore sexual fantasies out of the realm of pornography and into the mainstream. Though it no doubt raised many an eyebrow at the time, it doesn't really contain anything that you won't find in an average issue of today's women's magazines. This 25th-anniversary edition contains a new introduction by the author and a few new fantasies. Though tame by 1990s standards, this will still "undoubtedly prove enjoyable to many readers" (LJ 6/1/73).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; POCKET BOOKS TRADE PAPERBACK EDITION FEBRUARY 2008 edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416567011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416567011
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By R. Byrd on January 26, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For years, I used erotica books as surrogate fantasy material, believing that I was incapable of fantasizing during sex, that I had no fantasies of my own and had to use other people's. Reading "My Secret Garden" changed my perception of myself drastically. Those horrid, disturbing thoughts that floated into my brain, that I would shove down quickly as "sick," were indeed fantasies. The brave women who contributed their fantasies and feelings showed me that even if what I was drawn to was "sick," it certainly wasn't uncommon.
I am especially grateful to the women who commented on making the decision to share, or not share, their fantasies with their lovers. This was crucial for me. At a time when my thoughts were to be confessed on demand, I deprived my lover by depriving myself: those weren't fantasies, they were just random weird thoughts that made me uncomfortable. However, after getting out of a bad relationship and realizing that my mind was my own toy, I realized that I could explore those thoughts without fear of exposure to anyone but myself.
One I allowed myself my own secret garden, I found that I could share with myself and my current lovers in a way that previous ones had tried to coerce out of me. Living well is indeed the best revenge, and I thank Nancy Friday for her subversive assistence.
There are sections and chapters. Here's a listing of the section headings:
Introduction: Twenty-Five Years in the Garden
1. "Tell Me What You Are Thinking About," He Said
2. "Why Fantasize When You Have Me?"
3. The House of Fantasy
4. "Where Did A Nice Girl Like You Get An Idea Like That?"
5. Guilt and Fantasy, Or, "Why The Fig Leaf?"
6. Fantasy Accepted
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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Nikkita on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about Nancy Friday from "Men in Love", a collection of men's sexual fantasies. I found the fantasies in that book to be fascinatingly deep, thought out, and precious to the men who had them. You could actually see the world the man was building in his head. So when I heard there was a book by the same author about women's sexual fantasies I was very interested to see if they measured up.

I was very saddened by most of these fantasies. The sexual world of women in this book, in my opinion, came off shallow and unconcerned with their partners pleasure. The fantasies seemed to only exist to allow the women to bear through the unsatisfying sexual experiences with their men since time after time the women make it clear these fantasies are used during sex and were always of other men. The beautiful chapters in Men in Love where men talk of getting aroused from giving pleasure are absent from this book since the few times a woman is giving a man pleasure, she is being forced to.

While there is nothing wrong with these fantasies in general, putting so many of them in the book makes the book unbalanced. There are even several chapters dedicated to how a woman's sexual frustration can lead her to these fantasies! While I'm sure there are many sexual frustrated women, it made me sad that a woman's sexual world is put forth as simply a by-product of frustration, not a secret world that she loves, just like a man.

My main issue with this is that in the introduction, the author herself reveals a traumatizing experience where she told a lover about how she was fantasizing about another man as they had sex. He became upset and left.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Alana Mitchell on February 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book on the shelves of my public library when I was still a teenager, and I'll NEVER forget that first rush. WOW - someone else actually has these ideas going through their head?!
Mind you, that was 10 years ago. I've re-purchased the book many times over, because I keep on losing it or giving it away. This book is a fantastic combination of the psychology behind women's sexual fantasies and the actual fantasies themselves. I'll be honest - I haven't masturbated to these fantasies in years.. although I did constantly when I was still a teen.
This book opened my eyes up to the 'taboo' of sexual fantasy, and helped me understand at a crucial time in my life that fantasy is healthy and a necessary part of anyone's life. I no longer have ANY sexual taboos.. and it's mostly because of this book.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"This first of Nancy's books of womens sexual fantasies was a landmark in liberating women from the sexual dark-ages.Despite its age it can still get the pulse racing and opens your eyes to things never dreamt of before.It also provides a fascinating insight into 70s womens fantasies.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By carl womack on March 4, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nancy Friday asked women around the world, to send in their sexual fantasies and experiences. What she got even shocked her. Some of, if not THE most provocative fantasies and experiences ever published. I have owned(notice I said "have owned") a couple of copies of this extraordinary book. But each time I bought one, someone would want to "see it", and I would never get it back. Like Forbidden Flowers (a similar publication by Nancy Friday), anytime someone seen me reading a copy, they'd want to read a page. Only thing is, I never had anyone who could only read one page. They would be so captivated by its contents, they'd read more and more. I've had as many as 5 women at a time, come up to me and inquire as to what I was reading, then ask to let them "read a page". As they read, mouths dropped open, eyes would widen, faces would turn flush, and giggles galore would occur. It's amazing how a book can make women in their 20's 30's 40's and 50's act.

This is in no way like one of those "letters" books you've heard about in porno shops. Those letter books are not even in the same league!!! And its not a book with a bunch of 4 letter words in it to help sales, though there are a very few of them in it. No, it's what, and how it's said that makes this one risque' to say the least. Millions have been printed, and millions have sold. It's been a few years since I owned a copy of this book, and for various reasons. But I love to write reviews for Amazon, and since it is a book I've read several times through (grin), I felt I should write about it.

Getting back to the book, be prepared to be shocked. It is totally uncensored, and includes Nancy's own research into human relations. If you desire to find out if other people have had similar fantasies and experiences that you've had. If you seek to learn about research done on the topic of sexual fantasies, you'll want to read My Secret Garden, and Forbidden Flowers.
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