Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sex, Sex, Sex and Books

We could talk about what works and what doesn't when it comes to sex in books, but it's so dependent on a reader's personal preferences. As readers, we judge books based on our own likes, dislikes, morals and ideals. This is especially true when it comes to love scenes in books. One reader's mind-blowing sex scene is another's squirm-inducing moral affront. And that's okay.

Perhaps you find kissing in books acceptable, but want the majority of the action to take place behind closed doors. Never to be spoken of again.

Or maybe you'd like to hear a vague description of the bedroom (or wherever it may be taking place) activity, but would have the description focus more on the emotional than the physical.

You could love a down and dirty sex scene, but only if it's vanilla flavored.

Maybe everything above sounds terribly boring and you only like certain fetish scenes that others find appalling.

To each his or her own. That's the beauty of books. There is something out there for everyone's tastes and levels of acceptable sexuality.

No matter how graphically explained or vaguely hinted at, I think the one thing most readers tend to agree upon when it comes to sex in books is that the situation matters. Whatever the subject matter of the book, the sex should have something to do with the plot or the relationship development between the characters.

Sex for sex's sake is easy enough to find without committing to a 300 page book. A Dear Penthouse letter does not a novel make (although they too have their place.) I often hear readers complaining about the gratuitous sex in certain books and I'm always confused.

Graphic sex scenes aren't by definition gratuitous. Gratuitous means unnecessary, unwarranted, unjustified. Is there any possible reason in the entire world that these characters are having sex? Then it's not gratuitous. It's just graphic. If you find it gratuitous, then perhaps this just isn't the book for you.

I personally don't have a sensuality level preference. A book can be as chaste or as graphic as it needs to be to tell the story. But it does have to be telling a story and not just bouncing from one sex scene to the next with no plot direction. If I just wanted mindless titillation, I could easily watch porn.

A few exceptions to the rule: A book could have a fantastic plot, wonderful characters and story driven sex, but if it has graphic scenes of pedophilia or bestiality - I'm out. Thoroughly repulsed. Even I have some limits.

How do you feel about sex in books?

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