The reviews and features of the March 15, 2009 issue of Booklist went live on Booklist Online this morning. While the big story is ALA’s Notable and “best” lists, all linked to Booklist reviews, three new reviews caught my eye. Maybe we should have called this issue Spotlight on Sexually Empowered Women.
Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, by Jennifer Scanlon
Before Sex and the City, there was Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown’s scandalous 1962 best-seller. Three years later, Brown took the helm of a foundering magazine called Cosmopolitan and radically altered the image and lives of women, especially single, working women. Brown is not commonly cited as a feminist trailblazer, an error Scanlon corrects with real firepower in this incisive biography and explication of Brown’s philosophy and accomplishments.
Beyond My Control: Forbidden Fantasies in an Uncensored Age, by Nancy Friday
Sexual mores certainly have changed since Friday first chronicled women’s fantasies in My Secret Garden (1973). With sexuality in plain sight on every screen and page, this connoisseur of “rich erotic thoughts” decided to conduct a new survey, asking today’s women and, for the first time, men, to share their turn-on scenarios. What Friday discovered is that men and women of every sexual orientation, age, and degree of experience are aroused by visions of “forbidden sex” and fantasies involving domination.
What’s a woman like me doing in a place like this? That’s the question former punk-rock stripper and Playboy pinup Burana ponders many times after marrying Major Mike, a military intelligence officer and professor at West Point. This disarming memoir recounts the couple’s unlikely courtship (they met in a cemetery) and Burana’s perpetually arduous adjustment to life as a military wife. The challenges for the two came hard and fast.