A Curious History of Sex

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This is not a comprehensive study of every sexual quirk, kink and ritual across all cultures throughout time, as that would entail writing an encyclopaedia. Rather, this is a drop in the ocean, a paddle in the shallow end of sex history, but I hope you will get pleasantly wet nonetheless.

The act of sex has not changed since people first worked out what went where, but the ways in which society dictates how sex is culturally understood and performed have varied significantly through the ages. Humans are the only creatures that stigmatise particular sexual practices, and sex remains a deeply divisive issue around the world. Attitudes will change and grow hopefully for the better but sex will never be free of stigma or shame unless we acknowledge where it has come from.

Based on the popular research project Whores of Yore, and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious History of Sex draws upon Dr Kate Lister s extensive knowledge of sex history. From medieval impotence tests to twentieth-century testicle thefts, from the erotic frescoes of Pompeii, to modern-day sex doll brothels, Kate unashamedly roots around in the pants of history, debunking myths, challenging stereotypes and generally getting her hands dirty.

This fascinating book is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang, and illustrated with eye-opening, toe-curling and meticulously sourced images from the past.

You will laugh, you will wince and you will wonder just how much has actually changed.

If you think you are totally unshockable, then this is the book for you. Not in a maiden aunt way, but you’ll be shocked at how much your 21st century attitude to sex seems positively stuffy and old fashioned compared to the libidinous and licentious romps of the past.

The book is set out in fascinating sections that provide you with much for for thought as you learn to open up your mind and realise that our forefathers were much more open minded and frisky than you ever could have imagined.

The accompanying photos add much to the conversation and I was struck by how modern some of them felt. It was really interesting to consider how much attitudes towards sex have fluctuated and changed over the years, particularly regarding same sex relationships and what people find erotic. This is a book you can dip into and will want to read aloud to people at many points as some of the stories and anecdotes are just SO fascinating. Maybe not one for reading aloud on the train tho!

I love reviewing non fiction and I’ve been sent some amazing non fiction reads on eclectic subjects from earthquakes to serial killers – but I do have to say I found this one of the most fascinating and informative books of them all.

I recommend this book to people who love delving back into the past and finding out things that both surprise and delight them. If you follow Whores of Yore on Twitter, then you’ll bloody love this book, and if you don’t already, then you definitely should!

Treat yourself to a copy here and enjoy a slice of Kate Lister’s fun, frisky and fabulous read for yourself. It’s totally unputownable and will educate as much as it entertains. A five star February read for those who like a bit of edification with their slap and tickle.