101 Best Sex Scenes Ever Written—Barnaby Conrad

Off-camera sex was the norm in most early novels. Daringly, the man and woman would usually disappear into the woods or a bedroom, several asterisks would appear, and nine months later she would have a baby and a problem. (11)

False advertising, Barnaby Conrad. First, there were not anywhere near 101 scenes in this book. I guess I should have figured that out when I noticed that the book is only 160 pages long - it would be somewhat difficult to put 101 scenes, with introduction and explanation, onto so few pages. It's true that "72 Best Sex Scenes Ever Written" doesn't have quite the same ring to it...

Second, some of the scenes in here weren't sex scenes. They weren't even subtle sex scenes. I didn't expect them all to be explicit; in fact, that's not what I was looking for. But I expected them to be, at the very least, sex-adjacent.

Third, Michael Chabon (one of my most favourite authors) is listed as one of the included authors, and his name is not even mentioned anywhere in the book.

All of these initial frustrations aside, I thought this was a fairly interesting read. It would have been very easy to create this book using scenes exclusively from romance novels; however, Conrad made it clear from the beginning that his purpose was to emphasize that sex scenes should be used when they contribute to the artistic message of the book. He included several scenes from well-known, "classic" authors, articulating that the particular scene added some dimension to the characters that was important for their development as people.

I enjoyed that he split up the scenes into themed chapters: there was a chapter about subtle sex scenes, a chapter about first times, a chapter about quickies, a chapter about affairs. Conrad did seem to falter somewhat towards the end with the commentary introductions between the scenes; though sometimes poorly written, he managed to make his point and emphasize why the specific scene was important for the "theme" of the chapter.

Worth reading, but not nearly as exciting as I was hoping.

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