Tuesday, March 28, 2017

nonfiction readers' advisory

The Readers' Advisory Matrix for Future Sex by Emily Witt

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Highly narrative

2. What is the subject of the book?
On the state of sex and erotic possibilities -- including polyamory, kink, group sex and orgasmic meditation -- in 21st century America.

3. What type of book is it?
Somewhere between memoir and investigative journalism

4. Articulate appeal:

What is the pacing of the book?
Much like an extended feature story in a newspaper, this book reads quickly but takes its time in moving the reader through richly detailed descriptions of people, places, situations.

Describe the characters of the book.
Witt introduces the reader to quite a few fascinating characters. Some characters, like the polyamorous triad in San Francisco, are the subject of an entire chapter, while others receive a few paragraphs of attention. Framed as a sort of memoir of self-discovery, Witt is the thread between the varied contexts of the book.

How does the story feel?
wry, detached, yet relatable at moments

What is the intent of the author?
To explore current expressions of "free love" and sexual freedom, told from the context of her own experience as a curious outsider to these communities and practices.

What is the focus of the story?
Witt focuses on a handful of communities and practices that reside somewhere along the fringe of the dominant heteronormative sexual culture in America. She explores polyamory, kink, internet porn, live webcams, group sex and orgasmic meditation through a combination of observation, interview, and personal experience.

Does the language matter?
Yes! Despite her own hesitance in many of the settings, Witt's rich descriptions of characters and settings bring the book to life.

Is the setting important and well-described?
Yes and yes.

Are there details, and if so, what?
Lots of details, ranging from physical descriptions of people and places to historical context of practices and communities.

Are there sufficient charts and other graphics? N/A

Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
Though the book does provide some in-depth demonstrations of firsthand experience, there was surprisingly little emphasis on learning or understanding from these experiences.

5. Why would a reader enjoy this book?
Memorable characters, vivid settings, richly detailed


  1. I've been really curious about reading this book, and it was nice to have it broken down here--kind of gives me a sense of when would be a good time to read it (for instance, the fact that it doesn't really emphasize learning or understanding, or its "wry and detached" nature). Thanks, Leah :)

  2. I have never heard of this book and now I have to read it. I'll just have to keep in mind that there isn't a "moral of the story" or conclusion.

  3. I was thinking about writing about this book too! I find it to be an interesting example of non-fiction that is not quite memoir but still dips into the memoir realm often. I like the blending of storytelling, personal narrative, and investigation.

  4. Hi Leah! This sounds like an interesting read. Great job with the matrix! I like the way you described the feeling the book gives.

  5. Great prompt response! You do a great job writing informative and concise answers. Full points!