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Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage Hardcover – May 27, 2008

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Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage + The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures + Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052412
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jenny Block writes for Women’s Health, The Dallas Morning News, American Way,, BeE, bRILLIANT, People Newspapers, Stone, Where, and D. She also has work in the books It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters (Seal Press, 2006) and Letters to my Teacher (Adams, 2005), as well as in the forthcoming book, Have I Got a Guy For You: Fix-ups and Blind Dates Coordinated By Our Mothers (Viking, forthcoming 2007). In addition, her writing has appeared in Chow, Pointe, Virginia Living, Style Weekly, Tango, Richmond Magazine, and Literary Mama. The inspiration for Open stems from the piece, “Portrait of an Open Marriage”, which ran in Tango, and was reprinted by Cosmopolitan Germany and The Huffington Post. Jenny was also interviewed about the story on Chick Chat Radio, and for the daily newspaper a.m. New York.

Jenny holds both her Bachelor’s and her Master’s in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she taught composition for nearly ten years. She has also taught at the University of Richmond and Strayer University, as well as lectured at academic conferences across the country. Jenny has written numerous academic ancillaries for the Newsweek Education Program, Addison Wesley Longman, and Simon and Schuster.

Customer Reviews

Well written and very easy to follow.
robert glenn jr
If you've thought about open marriage, this book will give you great insight into the why and how to make it work.
This book has generated a great deal of criticism, and I feel it is completely unfounded.
K. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Kon Tiki on December 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Bookslut review nails it: [...]

I have no issue with the practice of polyamory. My issue is with the messenger. Jenny is a clever woman who easily wins people over with her warm demeanor and self-deprecating wit. However, I cannot take what she says at face value. Her book is supposed to be about open "marriage", but it has been (rather sheepishly) dedicated to her girlfriend. This subtle but cavalier gesture underscores the self-centered attitude that drives the story within.

We learn of Jenny's amazing power to attract youthful lesbian lovers who previously identified as straight ("whee"). We learn how she cheated on her spouse for the simple reason that she really, really likes having sex with other people (who doesn't?). And we learn how her husband is "the rock" in a marriage where he seemingly only exists to help her reach "the sky"... her girlfriend. How nice. I'm sure every spouse, male or female, aspires for such a role.

I agree with Jenny that our culture is overdue for a reexamination of monogamy. This simply isn't the book to accomplish it. Jenny is bisexual and has an arrangement that allows for male and female lovers if she so decides. However, other bisexuals practice a form of "gender monogamy" in which only partners of the same gender are allowed. Still others consider themselves sexually monogamous but engage in extramarital emotional relationships. Essentially, we can live as we please as long as it is for the betterment of everyone involved. Which is why it would be nice to hear the argument from her husband's perspective instead of exclusively from a person who is so gung-ho about wanting it all, at any cost.

If mainstream America is ever going to buy into this lifestyle, we need more than lip service and a ring on the cover.
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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Falsified Glamour on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am an extremely open minded individual with many friends who are in open relationships. It's what works for them, and I respect that. Jenny Block does not seem so open minded, as she simply berates and puts down monogamous relationships throughout her book. She compares monogamous relationships to "big 80's hair," by saying these relationships are unhealthy, impossible to sustain, and are only good for keeping up appearances. I picked up this book hoping to get an insider's view on why open relationships work, but was instead treated to a 270 page thesis about why my monogamous relationship is antiquated and doomed to fail.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
My wife and I have loved "Open". As other reviewers have stated this with more eloquence, I won't belabor the point: Ms. Block's disarming honesty makes the book more useful than straight-up "pro-nonmonogamy" tracts. The reader can follow through her journey and draw their own impressions. As we amass a small library pondering the joys and perils of open marriage, we've found this book to be among the most useful yet, tying the utterly honest Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful.

I will say this against the book: it fundamentally mischaracterizes Iris Krasnow's Surrendering to Marriage as a throwback to the 1950s "women submit to men" culture. This is simply wrong; Block has not read Krasnow carefully, or intentionally misread her. As Krasnow states (explicitly on page 14, implicitly throughout the book, including dust jacket and subtitle), the book is meant for both men and women. Krasnow (like Block!) writes about marriage from a woman's perspective simply because she is a woman.

I wouldn't make a big deal of this, but Block does: 7 pages are given over to an anti-Krasnow crusade. At one point, Block likens her to a "crackpot", and claims Krasnow has set back "countless years of fighting for women's rights." Nope. Block's misunderstanding.

This saddens me, because both Krasnow and Block are reacting against the romantic, harmful idealization of marriage, and I think they represent two wise perspectives which need to be integrated in any relationship which tries to be open.
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76 of 100 people found the following review helpful By John Storhm on June 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jenny Block has produced a stunning memoir in "OPEN: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage." In writing about relationships and marriage, Block writes what other authors rarely put into print. Her's is not a memoir about finding Mr. Right, nor is it a comic memoir about finding a string of Mr. Wrongs. This is not about her experiences going through an awful divorce, and it is not about how she discovered herself after leaving her husband. This is not a traditional coming out story, neither is it a tortured tale of her life lived deep in the closet. Jenny Block's memoir is about challenging conventional wisdom. This memoir is an attempt to shock the reader awake with the clear message that anything is possible, as a couple, as long as it is engaged in openly and honestly. She admits that her story could have been a more traditional one of infidelity and divorce had she lacked the courage to think in radically different ways. At the same time she acknowledges that her solution, a polyamorous marriage, may not work for everyone. What she is adamant about, in retelling her experiences, is that no one has to settle for the standard answers. When your marriage is on the verge of divorce, when the boyfriend whom you love dearly is just not satisfying you anymore, these are not merely times when one should despair, according to Jenny, these are the times when one should get creative and get honest.

This begs the question, has Jenny Block saved her marriage or destroyed it? How one answers this question, after reading this memoir, is really a testament to how one feels about monogamy. If one feels that monogamy is essential for a marriage then the only answer one may accept is that Jenny Block's marriage ended when she took other lovers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Jenny Block is the Lambda Literary Award winning author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Hardcover, June 2008 and Seal Paperback, March 2009). She writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News publication Quick called "Sex Talk with Jenny Block" ( Jenny holds both her BA and her MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and taught college composition for nearly ten years.

She writes for a wide variety of publications and websites, including,, American Way, Veranda, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Voice,,, Spirit,, and Her essay "And Then We Were Poly" is included in Rebecca Walker's book, One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry,Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love (Riverhead Hardcover, February 2009), which received a starred review from Kirkus. Jenny's essay "On Being Barbie" is included in book "It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters" (Seal Press, March 2006) edited by Andrea Buchanan (The Daring Book for Girls).

Jenny has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs, including Fox and Friends, The Glenn Beck Show, The Tyra Banks Show, Good Morning Texas, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, (online video), Playboy Radio, The Alan Colmes Show, The Young Turks, and BBC Radio. "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" was written up and/or reviewed both nationally and internationally in and on a variety of publications and sites, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Glamour, Marie Claire, Curve, Observer UK, Maxi (Germany), Psychologies (UK), Playgirl, NPR's Morning Edition, The New York Times,, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, 2: The Magazine for Couples (Canada),, and the Baltimore City Paper. Jenny has also spoken in bookstores and other venues all across the country, including Georgetown University and The Science Museum of Virginia.