Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: I'd Rather Eat Chocolate, by Joan Sewell

Reviewed by Christina

Published: 2007

It's about: Joan Sewell chronicles her struggle to solve the sex-drive mismatch problem in her marriage. Along the way, she also provides sort of an informal survey of the "sexpert" literature and a little background information about how female sexuality has changed over the years in the U.S.
Note that the book is subtitled "Learning to Love My Low Libido," not "Learning to Love Your Low Libido." It's a memoir, not a self-help book.

I thought: I have to hand it to Ms. Sewell for writing honestly about a very personal matter. And I was impressed with her genuine effort to try every possible solution, with the goal being her own increased interest in sex. But she's not always the most likeable narrator. She's neurotic, emotional, and self-centered. Her husband, Kip, puts up with a lot of crap and very little nooky. He seems like a real catch.

There are some very funny moments and the writing is generally clear and well-organized, though it doesn't always seem to flow naturally. I could tell it was a first book from a non-writer; Sewell's academic background is in Philosophy.
The text is riddled with typos and punctuation errors, and this puzzles me. I'd Rather Eat Chocolate is published by Broadway Books, which is under the umbrella of Random House. Couldn't they afford a good proofreader? Or any proofreader at all?

I wish the author had spent more time examining societal views of low libido, especially as it relates to feminism. It wasn't that long ago that women, even married women, were generally expected to be naive and demure, never sexually adventurous; in other words, women were supposed to pretend to have low libidos. Obviously, that was messed up. But nowadays it seems we've come full circle, with raunch culture and objectification somehow representing female sexual liberation. (See this excellent review of a book that deals with the subject.) And women who are genuinely uninterested in sex, where do they fit in this strange new feminism? I'm getting into rant mode here. I wish I'd Rather Eat Chocolate had more to say on these issues.

Despite the book's flaws, libidinally-challenged women will enjoy Sewell's point of view and relate to her struggle to make herself want something she doesn't particularly like. People with average or higher libidos might not enjoy this one so much.

Verdict: In between. Not bad, but not excellent either. I think the audience who would really enjoy this book is pretty small.

Reading Recommendations: It's a quick read. If you feel like Joan Sewell might be a kindred spirit for you, go ahead and pick it up.

Warnings: Quite a bit of very descriptive sexual material.

Favorite excerpts:
"If I had a choice between reading a good book and having sex, the book wins. I notice I put in the adjective 'good'- and that leaves me wondering if I'm not trying to put a better face on things. I still want people to read this and think, Well, of course. If it's a good book. But my boyfriend- the man I would eventually marry- would take even bad sex over a good book."

"In the end, I found that love does not conquer all- it does not conquer hunger and it won't conquer sex. I can't tell you how mad and sad that made me. I didn't want to believe that sex could take up so much room in a marriage."

What I'm reading next still reading: Ahab's Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund