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What Happens When the NYT Book Review Does a Sex Issue: 'I Much Prefer Breasts to Heaving Mounds.'

The New York Times Book Review published its sex issue on Sunday, featuring reviews of new works of sex-themed fiction and nonfiction, along with essays and Q&As on subjects such as “What makes a good sex scene?", "Why is writing about sex so difficult?" and “What’s the most erotic book you’ve ever read?”. The word “erotic” showed up 15 times in the issue overall. (“Arouse”: 5, “heavy-petting”: 1.) So just how sexy is a Book Review about sex? You be the judge:

1) “I was such a nerdy little kid that when I saw those issues of Playboy that everyone else saw, I would just focus in on the handwriting.” –Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review sex issue podcast

2) “The reader sometimes feels inundated by a catalog of oddities—from climacophilia (the erotic compulsion to tumble down stairs) to melissophilia (lust for bees) to titillagnia (arousal from tickling).” –Daniel Bergner reviewing Jesse Bering’s Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us 

3) “The man kept putting his hands between the woman’s legs and saying things like, ‘So this is what starlight feels like!’” –Alyssa Nutting

4) “I have no idea how I learned to decode the language of the King James Bible, but somehow I understood what it meant when Potiphar’s wife tells Joseph, ‘Lie with me.’...I was mystified by Noah’s sons covering his nakedness, and by the Sodomites asking Lot to bring out the visiting angels so they could ‘know’ them. But I knew it was hot.” –Francine Prose

5) “I much prefer breasts to heaving mounds.” –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  

6) “Wolf’s book is a sobering reminder that, as it is currently framed, the work-family debate smacks of elitism.” –Katrin Bennhold reviewing Alison Wolf’s XX Factor

7) “Like its sister intimacies prayer and dance, sex is a live, three-dimensional ... happening, and black squiggles on a flat, dry page are, at best, a nostalgic distortion of a done deal—and usually skip the lube.” –Toni Bentley

8) “[Nicholas] Sparks will appear on a coming CBS broadcast of a bull riding event in Miami—but the centerpiece of the [marketing plan is] a “sexiest cowboy” contest in which fans can vote among 12 current and former members of the [Professional Bull Riders’] tour to determine who will appear on a special edition of the paperback.” –Gregory Cowles

9) "I read Jeremy Adelman’s biography of Albert O. Hirschman earlier this year and was deeply moved by it." –Malcolm Gladwell

10) “A good sex scene needs thwartedness, surprise, innocence, and hair.” –Nicholson Baker

Image courtesy of shutterstock.