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A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister (Review)

Greetings and salutations! Yesterday was valentines and we all know adults tend to bonk, but what’s it like now compared in history? Well, I was curious to read about it, and so I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour! A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister was released on February 6th 2020 in Hardback and will be available on February 20th 2020 in eBook format. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes.

I used to always think history was boring. Friends from other cultures helped me realise maybe that wasn’t the case. A friend with a pretty great history podcast made me realise one of the reasons I thought it was boring in the past was because of the way it was presented to me. Now, I’ve enjoyed the tid-bits from the Whores of Yore twitter account for a while. Witty yet informative, so I figured, without the character limit, in a book? That should be very interesting indeed. Plus it’s sex. The topic of sex always manages to induce some winks and giggles so I was pretty confident that this book would entertain, inform and be enjoyable.

Fannies, weenies, butts, boobies, a really dodgy looking oyster and some torturous looking objects, A Curious History of Sex comes with many historical photographs and illustrations to have a giggle at. I find myself feeling thankful for modern technology, but ultimately, our ancestors were just like we are currently in modern society. One thing hasn’t changed though it seems – people STILL shove random phallic shaped objects in places they’re not meant to go in search of the big O.

Yet, there were condom-type devices found, spanning back through history, even one in Tutankhamun’s tomb. It’s surprising that these very obvious and uncomfortable looking devices were used and yet people today seem reluctant to use them as they “affect sex” when they’re thinner than ever and made of much better materials. If men in history could wear sheaths made of intestines and other things, I can’t fathom why someone can’t cope with a condom that has been specifically design for the phallus. Just one of the many thought provoking things I came across while reading this book! Don’t get me started on their “pleasure devices”.. some look entirely terrifying!

I like to think I’m pretty “woke” on things these days, (woke, that’s the word the kids are using, right?) but looking back to how they were for our ancestors is amusing, entertaining and informative and gives me gratitude and insight for the modern day.

I’m pleased to say, A Curious History of Sex ticked all the right boxes. Innuendo unintended. Or was it? Engaging, witty and not a droll moment throughout. Of course, some parts interested me more than others, but it’s been a wholly fascinating experience. I think there is something that will interest anyone in this book, while also amusing. This is probably my favourite non-fiction read. Or it’s very high up there to say the least. I’ve read some great non-fiction books but I don’t think any top the balance of this one.

I absolutely love the way the information is put across and I wish all books on historical topics could be this entertaining. I mean, the topic being a (curious) history of sex can be considered entertaining in itself because “lols sex” but I think the author could make any topic as equally entertaining and interesting with her engaging writing and witty way of framing the content.

A fascinating read for sure, one that I would highly recommend.

About the Book

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.

Drawing upon extensive research from Dr Kate Lister’s Whores
of Yore website and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious
History of Sex
covers topics ranging from twentieth-century testicle thefts
to Victorian doctors massaging the pelvises of their female patients, from smutty
bread innuendos dating back to AD 79, to the new and controversial sex doll
brothels. It is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang and
illustrated by eye-opening, toe-curling and hilarious images.

In this fascinating book, Lister deftly debunks myths and stereotypes and gives unusual
sexual practices an historical framework, as she provides valuable context for
issues facing people today, including gender, sexual shame, beauty and
language.

About the Author

Dr Kate Lister is a lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, where she researches the history of sexuality and curates the online research project Whores of Yore. Kate is also a columnist for iNews, Vice and the Wellcome Trust where she writes about the history of sex. Kate won a Sexual Freedom Award for Publicist of the Year in 2017. She runs the popular @WhoresOfYore twitter account.

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