Two Nonfiction Books that Were Mediocre

Never Have I Ever: My Life (so far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney

I expected more from this book. It’s a memoir by a 25 year old, and it recaps every potential romantic interlude and flirtation or crush from birth to now. The beginning was torturously slow. It was mildly more entertaining in the later years, but I kept expecting more humor. It didn’t make me laugh, and I’d give it a 2/5 stars. The quotes I liked:

  • (Some girls are lighthouses – they attract sailors over and over, easily. Other girls are Bermuda Triangles.) “It’s just that Bermuda doesn’t know how to handle itself when somebody sails into its territory, because that hardly ever happens. It hasn’t had much chance to practice, and it’s used to things going a certain way. So if a sailor DOES come around, it gets a little nervous, freaks the fuck out, and creates hurricane-like devastation in every direction around it. And then it gets embarrassed and sad and calls its friends.”
  • “Guys who would make fun of girls for sexual inexperience are terrible people, and when girls do it to other girls it feels even shittier. Guys who shame girls who haven’t had sex want them to feel like they aren’t doing their job, which is to be sexually available and attractive to guys.”

There were a few other instances where she describes a friend’s behavior, or talks about a weird quirk (parking is her go-to stressor about dates…yes!), where I felt like I was reading about myself. For the most part, I feel like I could chronicle the crushes and dating endeavors in my life and it’d be far more interesting and comical. It’s like, if she can do it, why can’t I? (Except for that whole time thing, and ruining my professional life…)

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

This is a book about biases. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but it was the selection for my kinky book club.  I’d give this a 3/5 stars.  Interesting notes/quotes:

  • “Diagnosis bias – in other words, the moment we label a person or a situation, we put on blinders to all evidence that contradicts our diagnosis.”
  • “We experience the pain associated with a loss much more vividly than we do the joy of experiencing a gain.”  — This is why keeping a gratitude journal is so helpful for retaining positive memories and maximizing joy from gains.
  • “‘Some men,’ LBJ once said, ‘want power simply to strut around the world and to hear the tune of ‘Hail to the Chief.’ Others want it simply to build prestige, to collect antiques, and to buy pretty things. Well, I wanted power to give things to people — all sorts of things to all sorts of people.”
  • Dan Ariely “expectations change the reality we live in.”
  • Draft selection order influences playing time more than talent – why peer pressure and popularity influences perspective more than who people actually are.
  • “We use diagnostic labels to organize and simplify. But any classification that you come up with has got to work by ignoring a lot of other things–with the hope that the things you are ignoring don’t make a difference. And that’s where the rub is. Once you get a label in mind, you don’t notice things that don’t fit within the categories that do make a difference.”
  • Adrenaline makes you more romantically attracted. Kink releases adrenaline, so more likely to be romantically interested.
  • “How we are treated –the fairness of the procedure– has as much to do with our satisfaction as the ultimate outcome.”
  • The pleasure center and altruism centers of the brain cannot function at the same time.
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Kinky Book Reviews

Bonds of Trust by Lynda Aicher

This is the first of a series surrounding the owners at a club. This particular book is about a woman in her early 40s, recently divorced, who is pursuing sexual freedom and fun for the first time in her life. These quotes stuck out to me as representing a dynamic I’d like to have, or as being especially hot or provoking.

  • “She glanced down, his sharp gaze just a bit too insightful for her to handle at the moment. ‘Look at me, Cali.’ There it was. That calm command that had her inhaling against the flash of burning desire rushing through her system.”
  • “The slight pressure of Master Jake’s hand at the small of her back kept her grounded.”
  • “Cali’s hand came up to grip Jake’s forearm, but she didn’t stop his slow, sensual movements over her stomach. It was as if she were searching for something to hang on to, to keep her grounded. And she’d reached for him. Good.” —> This is why I like it when a man maintains physical contact while hurting or dominating me.
  • “‘Don’t,’ he commanded, his grip flexing on her sides. ‘Don’t hide what you’re feeling for me. I want to hear everything. Every sound, every moan, every desire you feel. Understand?'” –> I need this type of encouragement, as I’m really quiet/tend to hold back noises with people.
  • “She felt no shame in begging. Not with him. He would give her what she craved. It was so freeing to be able to ask for what she desired and know she’d get it.”

Bonds of Need by Lynda Aicher

This book was about another partner in owning a BDSM club and a girl with an abusive ex. She’s trying to suppress her masochism because of her negative experiences with pain in the past.  There was a lot that rung true to me in this book, but only one quote that stood out above all others:

There is no pleasure in being beaten. That’s an act of violence. And I would never be violent toward you. No real Dom would. The pleasure comes in submitting and trusting. In finding release in the freedom you get from letting go. The pain only heightens the feelings, releases the endorphins and reaffirms the trust you’ve given away.

Exactly.

Bonds of Desire by Lynda Aicher

This third book involves the third male partner of the BDSM club, and his interactions with a male switch and a female submissive. The female submissive is a control-freak attorney who is afraid of being submissive like her mother, and is brand-new to kink. The male switch was a gay whore who ended up essentially raped, and has terrible self worth. It was definitely interesting, hot, and a dynamic different than most I’m used to. There was only one quote that spoke to me, and it involved being touched by the Dom. He had a tendency to firmly grip the back of the male switch’s neck, which instilled a sense of comfort and submission. Regarding that:

Just one touch, right there, and all of the tension dripped from him, leaving behind nothing but calm compliance. Right now, he would do whatever the Dom wanted. Anything.

There are two other books in this series that I haven’t read yet, and I think more are on the way. I highly recommend them all.

Book Review: If Only by Cherise Sinclair

If Only by Cherise Sinclair

This is the eighth book in the Master of the Shadowlands series, and it was equally as awesome as the others. Synopsis from Amazon:

After the last fiasco, Sally gives up. She’ll never find a Dom of her own. Instead the computer whizz is job hunting in between bending the law–just a bit–to unearth the bastards who’d enslaved her friends. The clueless cops and Feds obviously need her help.  FBI special agents, Galen and Vance, have waited to play with Sally for a long time. When the mischievous submissive returns to the exclusive Shadowlands BDSM club after an ugly relationship, the experienced co-tops are more than pleased. Realizing she’s suppressing deep-seated emotions, the powerful Doms push her–only to find that her sassiness conceals a scarred and vulnerable heart.  Shaken by the unexpected emotional exposure, Sally flees the demanding Masters and the Shadowlands. And that should be the end of that, since both Galen and Vance have reasons not to seek a long-term relationship, especially with a submissive who doesn’t want what they can give. But when a brutal attack by her ex-Dom sends Sally into their home, the two agents are driven to protect her. To help her. To take her under command. Falling in love isn’t in the plans. But the little imp brings light into their lives, and just as they begin to want more, they discover she’s hacked into an organization that delights in burning people alive. Now more than hearts are on the line, and Sally’s submission could save her life.

I really enjoyed this book. Mystery, romance, BDSM – what’s missing? I related to the main character a good deal as well. For years, she’s played in the scene but no one ever realized she never let people see her emotions. These two Doms step up and force her to face her emotions, wants, and needs, and to vocalize them. I am much better than I used to be about that, but I still have a great deal of difficulty vocalizing my emotions or desires. Similar to the main character, I was raised in situations that trained me to never show weakness. If I expressed my pain, fear, etc., I was made to regret it pretty quickly. As such, trusting others to hear the truth and not punish me (even in a passive agressive way) is really difficult. More than that, it’s my nature now to not share, and it isn’t my consciously choosing not to, I just honestly forget to because I don’t feel like people care enough to know.

Realistically, I’ve rarely had a partner notice or seem to care that I wasn’t sharing deeper emotions, so that has kind of validated my insecure thoughts about people not caring. Someday, though, I want to be find someone who wants to be in my head. He’ll force me to vocalize and share with him, because without doing so he can’t understand me enough to know how far to push. He’ll notice if I don’t volunteer emotional responses.

Again, I’m not as bad as the character in this book, and I’m better than I used to be. I do have some people I talk to now, whereas I used to not open up to anyone. I like to think I’m looking out for my own needs enough now to discuss them. It’d be nice, though, for a Dom to call me on my tendency to hide deep thoughts.

Aside from that, I loved this quote – she’s in my head!

Favorite Quote:

“Don’t you hate that? When you give them the right to command, and they don’t?” Sally shook her head. “Would you believe one man put nipple clamps on me… and the second I squawked, he took them right off. No Dom cookies for that wussy.” But her Feds… her majorly dominating Feds would earn an entire box of chocolate chip cookies. “Oh man, I think I did a scene with that wimp. Totally forgettable.” Maxie slouched back on the leather couch. “Last month, Master Sam put clamps on me. When I whimpered, his eyes lit up, and he tightened them until I was up on tiptoes.” She gave a happy sigh. “There’s no one like a Master.”

This is why I hate when Tops ask me if I like it. I want someone to react to my fear and pain by tightening/hurting me more, and I want his eyes to light up from the desire he feels at inflicting such pain on me.

Kinky Book Club

I lead a group on Fetlife for my local area. Some months I’m a more active organizer than others, but the goal of the group is to unite kinky folk to participate in vanilla activities. We went snow tubing and ice skating, have had happy hours and munches, went on photo hikes, and attended stand up comedy shows, karaoke, and the renaissance faire. Most of the regular attendees are people I know and care about, and it’s sort of a way to hang out with my friends while also occasionally bringing in new people. It works. Anyhow, I’ve decided to try to initiate a book club. I want to read more, and I like talking about the books I’m reading. I thought it’d be really interesting to have people who could and may also want to talk about kink. There are some psychology books I love, but I always bring my kinky curiosity to the topic, so ‘normal’ book clubs aren’t always the best thing for me.

I wanted to create a Goodreads list for these books, but I also don’t want to out my kink to my vanilla friends on there. So, in the meantime, here’s a list of books I think would be good for a book club comprised of people in alternative lifestyles. Genres vary, but all could relate back to sex, motivation, desire, etc.

If you have suggestions, or if you’ve read any of these and suggest others or have thoughts on them, please post them in the comments! I’d love to grow/revise this list.

Book Review: How to be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)

Yes, this is a book. Find How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy on Amazon.

First off, I was bound to like this book at least a little because the author is also the author of Indexed, one of my favorite daily weblog reads. I’m a data nerd, if you couldn’t tell. I literally have a pinterest board dedicated to infographics.

If you ever doubted I’m quirky, the fact that I read a book on being interesting should give me away. A kinky friend had tweeted about it, so I picked up a copy. As other online reviewers note, I wish I’d grabbed a physical copy instead of a digital one, because the graphics would make great coffee table conversation starters.

Overall, easy read, a lot of pointing out the obvious. Important to note – interesting doesn’t mean things will be good or go your way. I felt that in some of the advice, in that following the recommendations likely would take you on an interesting journey, but one with many ups and downs. Not that that is a bad thing, but still.

Things I bookmarked:

  • Reclaim your spare moments.
  • What’s known to you is often a mystery to others.
  • Don’t wait for invitations when you can host.
  • If it is unappetizing: Do not eat, date, or sign up for it. If the mere thought of it is depressing: Do not major in it, sit through it, or devote your life to it. If it is not important to you: Do not do it only because it is important to someone else.
  • Irony gets in the way of experience. Drop the pretense, and you’ll have room to carry the day.
  • You have treasured people, places, and things. They are precious and powerful. Fight for them. Don’t just let them lounge in the back of your mind.
  • You are not wrong to be unique. You are not incorrect because you are different. You should not be sorry for being interesting.
  • If you want to matter, you have to climb all the way into the mess that is before you.
  • If you’re arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid.
  • Your greatest accomplishments, no matter how impressive you think them to be, are someone else’s worst nightmare.
  • Don’t feel terrible for wanting something. Save the guilt for never giving yourself the chance to try.
  • The more you absorb, the more you can exude.
  • Avoid people who make you feel crappy. Don’t return their calls or take their antagonistic bait. The only way to win their game is to quit playing along. Besides, no one is fascinated by your constant irritation.
  • Most people, even the nasty ones, are doing the best they can.

Motivational, right? All are things I regularly try to remind myself of when dating and interacting with folks. Sometimes, when people come to me for advice, I think I shove some of these down their throat inadvertently.

Book Review: 101 Secrets for Your Twenties

101 Secrets for Your Twenties by Paul Angone

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every twenty-something needs a little black book of secrets. Our twenties are filled with confusion, terrible jobs, anticipation, disappointment, cubicles, break-ups, transition, quarter-life crisis, loneliness, post-college what the heck, moderate success sandwiched in-between complete failure, and we need a worn, weathered guide stashed somewhere close by to help shed some light on this defining decade. This is that book.

My thoughts:

This book was great and I recommend it. It’s a very fast read, but entertaining. Moreover, it helps emphasize that the things that make you feel like you’re drowning in your twenties are actually what will ground you in your later years of life.  Moreover, my life involves a lot of fear – fear of not being successful, not finding a job I love, not settling down fast enough, etc. This book helped me realize that fear is feeling and is indicative of growth. Without risk, there is no reward. Fear shows that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, which is what you should be doing in your twenties. Your twenties are when you have nothing to lose, when you should be throwing yourself all-in. It’s a good point to have reiterated. I may write more on this later, because it’s been a theme this past week.

Quotes (related secret in () ) — WARNING some ‘spoilers’ may follow:

  • “Your only choice of survival is to just let go.” (1)
  • “The possibility for embarrassment and greatness usually exist in the same space.” (2)
  • “The fear of embarrassment lets insecurities call the shots.” (2)
  • “You can’t have a good story without a good struggle.” (4)
  • “If we’re always trying to live like we’re ‘supposed to,’ we’re never going to truly live.” (6)
  • “Don’t allow loneliness to become isolation.” (14)
  • “Don’t make a date into something more than a date. Or you won’t date.” (18)
  • “Dating is simply trial and error. And if you don’t try, that will be the biggest error of all.” (18)
  • “Our plans aren’t the problem. Our timeline is.” (19)
  • “Don’t cram YOUR PLOTLINE into someone else’s story.” (21)
  • “Complaining is passive and powerless. Creating is proactive and powerful.” (38)
  • “In the ‘working world’, very rarely is someone waiting there to teach you how to do your job. They’re expecting you to teach yourself.” (54)
  • “You don’t argue with them about your skill set, you just show them every single day how awesome your skills are.” (56)
  • “Here’s the interesting thing about the Liar–when he starts babbling, you know you’re onto something important. When he starts talking, thank him. He just revealed to you that you’re on to something huge.” (74) [the Liar is self-doubt/fear]
  • “The point of life is NOT to not fail.” (75)
  • “Raise your hand. Say ‘sure I can do that.’ then figure it out from there. You’ll be surprised how quickly the act becomes a reality.” (76)
  • “Stop worrying about finding the right person. Instead, start working on becoming the right person.” (77)
  • “to Not burn out on Adult every-day-ness you need to take some nothing vacations.” (81) [a nothing vacation means no sightseeing, no friends or family, just nothing. Food, sleep, books, repeat.]
  • “You can’t find something when you’ve never actually decided what you’re looking for.” (86)

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Goodreads synopsis: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Some parts were predictable, but others were sweet and took me off guard. The author intertwined a lot of philosophizing about the meaning of life, which I appreciated. The book made me think differently about what it means to be ill and how that affects others’ impression of you, and it also gave me some food for thought about what it means to make a difference. I recommend it if you have a couple of free hours.

Quote to ponder:

“That’s why I like you. You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”