Fatphobia and no mention of even the existence of asexuality turned this book into an almost immediate hard pass for me.
I absolutely love this book. I could barely put it down! The astute observations of the human condition and how they apply to our preferences and the psychology around our desires made this book a very quick read and a pleasurable one at that. Our brains are very interesting realms, each is unique, each influenced often by things outside our control from a time before we understood our own power to soak up and incorporate everything that we experience. Impulse looks at these processes and in a thoughtful and colloquial way (academic without pretension) communicates with the reader managing to evoke the energy of the subject matter itself.
A short but informative read about what makes humans lose control. I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Based on the subtitle, “The Science of Sex and Desire,” I thought it would be about brain function, hormonal chemistry or even the physiological aspects of sex. This might have been harder to read, but more in line with the purview of science. The authors instead discuss mostly the psychological angle, including much practical advice. Not being a gay man, a cheating wife, pregnant or HIV-positive, most of the chapters were not too interesting to me. A more scientifically focused book would have applied to everyone, but the cases here are specific. Some of the information gleaned from these stories was interesting, but not applicable to every reader. That said, I enjoyed the read, though more in the way that I get sucked into personal advice columns than a book about how the human body works.
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, #NetGalley/#Cambridge University Press!
The book promises a deep dive into sex and desire and to answer the questions we are too afraid to ask. But, does it deliver?
What I will say, first and foremost, is that it does answer (in a non-biased and purely scientific way) a lot of questions about sex. It looks at what desire is, its expression, sexual problems, healthy and unhealthy behaviours, social norms, etc etc etc. It even has some personal accounts that aim to make the content feel more relatable and less taboo.
Here's the problem for me, though. In trying to provide a scientific and non-biased review of sex, the tone of the book becomes completely dispassionate. There is a huge gap between content and narrative voice when we think of what sex is compared to this clinical assessment of it. I understand the researchers set out to give facts, but the book completely lacks life.
My second concern is that the book doesn't engage critically with its subject matter. Exhibit A: the researchers discuss the impact of pornography on sex. However, the discussion is without nuance. They discuss how it has changed sexual relationships but hold back from discussing the impact of porn on l other levels.
The book also promises discussions of LGBTQ+ experiences. Yet most of the accounts/research are from straight relationships. The focus on trans/asexual experience is pretty much absent.
I think the author's ambition to cover everything sex-based comes at a cost. They glance at a lot of things but don't have the space to explore them fully - whether intended or not it feels a lot like ticking boxes.
It's good for an introduction to the topic but I wouldn't recommend it much more than that.
A thorough and well laid out book from a reputable publisher. My largest qualm was in how very often I read the word 'sex', though I understand why the authors chose not to look at synonyms in this case. Solid book, its audience will seek it out.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced digital copy.