I am super happy to have Leandra Vane aka the Unlaced Librarian on my blog. She is an author in my upcoming Prompted anthology which I am editing with Oleander Plume, and she has a new book Trophy Wife: Sexuality. Disability. Femininity out right now! Leandra is a divine bibliophile, and you are going to enjoy her guest post because I know you are one too!
I launched my blog The Unlaced Librarian, to review the non-fiction sexuality books that I had ravenously been consuming for years. My not-so-secret secret, was that I also wanted to write non-fiction sexuality books on topics that are important to me – especially disability and sexual identity.
My first venture into making this goal a reality is my sexuality memoir, Trophy Wife: Sexuality. Disability. Femininity. In this book I write about the multitude of topics that have shaped my sexuality as a disabled woman, including passing, kink, my open marriage, Devotees, my femme identity, bowel and bladder control in the bedroom, erotica, sexual fantasies, disability fetishes, pornography, coming out, and sex when you lack physical sensation.
My hope is to connect with readers who are untangling aspects of their own sexual identities and to contribute to the amazing sex-positive dialogue that writers before me have pioneered.
The following short excerpt reveals a bit about how reading sex books has helped me connect to those around me and has sparked important conversations in sexuality. Enjoy!
Since I’ve been reading relationship and sex books – in coffee shops, on work breaks, before I meet friends for dinner, in my car – more people have opened up, asked questions, or confessed secrets they’ve been holding onto for years. I have bonded with so many people – over books.
So often when I carry around a book on sexuality, a friend or acquaintance will comment or ask why I’m reading a book on that particular topic. I answer, because I find sexuality interesting and want to understand it better. I leave it at that for the awkward silence to settle and the raised eyebrows to fall and allow the person to decide whether or not to continue the conversation. Nine times out of ten, the person will then say, “Can I ask you a question?”
The person will then proceed to talk about a sexual dilemma in their own life – sometimes shame or a question they have been carrying around since childhood. Many times I am told I am the only other person with whom they have openly discussed sexuality. All this simply because I expressed a polite interest in the field – and had a book.
Since carrying around sex books I have certainly found I am not the only one worried about my body, about fitting in, or about matters of sexuality. I have sat hunched forehead-to-forehead with friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and family having conversations in cafés, backseats, at picnic tables, on couches in the basement. Whispers about infidelity, not being good enough, he said she saids and you won’t believes.
I have emerged as a confidante, a holder of secrets, and at times a giver of advice. Because of this, I make it a point to read far and wide, in areas of sexuality I am unfamiliar with, so I may always have a book to lend or at least recommend. Because I know some of the most personal discoveries are made in ink and pulp and paper cuts.
Too many times we are left with no one to speak with face-to-face about our sexualities. Sometimes it is because of shame or taboos or judgements. Other times it is because no one we know is experiencing the same life struggle; they simply cannot relate or empathize. In these times we turn to books.
I know this because I have seen the conversations so many people have had with books. There are infinite insights written in margins of used books. Some tell of victories, others of tragedies. I cherish them all.
Seeing as I have to buy used books fairly frequently, I am always touched by what I read between the lines – passages the previous owner underlined, showcasing what they were studying, what they were working through, or what struck them enough to notate.
Some instances are amusing – One anti-porn book I bought, literally, the whole thing was underlined. The entire book. I could more easily have counted the lines that were not underlined than those that were.
Some instances, however, are so sad, they hurt. I picked up a book at a library used book sale about communication and emotion in marriage and some paper fell out of the front cover. Four typed pages. I proceeded to read an anonymous account of an entire marriage. The birth of a child, the affair, the decline of the relationship, and the divorce. The book itself had highlighted passages, asterisks, little hearts, and even more little broken hearts written in the margins.
I bought the book for one dollar.
It seems an odd irony, that I was broke so I had to buy used sex books, yet I was graced more insight, more raw life experience than any paid course or crisp new text could have taught me.
I’ve learned a lot from books. But I’ve learned even more from the people these books let me connect with. Authors. Friends. Lovers. And strangers I will never know except by the slant of their handwriting in a margin note.
You don’t have to fly away to San Francisco or be a fetish model to experience a life of sexual adventure. Indeed, I am just a woman from the Midwest, who was finally sick of acting like the “nice girl” she never was. Sometimes, all you have to do is pick up a book.
Click on the link for your copy of Trophy Wife!