The Joy of Sex

The Joy of Sex

, M.D., Ph.D., first published in 1972. An updated edition is to be released in September, 2008Update after|2008|09|30.


It was the first illustrated, serious such manual to gain wide distribution—at least in modern America. (One might argue, for instance, that the Kama Sutra provided somewhat similar information over 1,000 years before.) Earlier works, such as the 1966 "Human Sexual Response" by William H. Masters & Virginia E. Johnson, were more circumspect and clinical. Conversely, "The Joy of Sex" is rather circumspect and clinical in comparison to "The Guide to Getting it On", published 20 years later.

"The Joy of Sex" spent eleven weeks at the top of the "New York Times" bestseller list and more than 70 weeks in the top five (1972–1974).

The original intention was to use the same mainstream approach as such books as "The Joy of Cooking", hence section titles include "starters" and "main courses". The book features sexual practices such as oral sex and various sex positions as well as bringing "farther out" practices such as sexual bondage and swinging to the attention of the general public.

The original version contained numerous illustrations by Chris Foss based on original photographs of the book's art director, Kenn Ford and his wife Anna. The illustrations have become somewhat dated, mainly because of changes in hairstyles. Both the illustrations and text are titillating as well as illustrative, in contrast to the bland, clinical style of earlier books about sex. More recent editions feature new artwork, and added text emphasizing safer sex.

Although the original took a negative view of practices such as anal sex, newer versions reversed previously-supportive positions on topics such as swinging as extensive textual changes were made at the height of the 1980s AIDS panic.

A pocket book version entitled, "The Joy of Sex, the Pocket Edition" was also published. The book won the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year in 1997. [cite web |last=Burkardt |first=John |url=|title=The Oddest Book Titles |publisher=John Burkardt |date=2007-06-01 |accessdate=2008-02-24]

"The Joy of Sex" did not address homosexual sex beyond a definitional level. Though there was a careful (for the day) treatment of bondage, other BDSM activities received definitional coverage at best. The book played a part in what is often called the sexual revolution.


There has been much controversy over "The Joy of Sex". Many religious groups have fought to keep it out of public libraries. In March 2008, the Nampa, Idaho public library board ruled in favor of removing "The Joy of Sex" and "The Joy of Gay Sex" from the libraries' shelves, making them only available upon request in the library director's office. The books were restored to shelves in September 2008 in response to ACLU threats of litigation. [ Nampa library restores 'Joy of Sex' books] . Kristin Rodine. Retrieved on 2008-09-14.]

Publication history

* "The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking", 1972
* "More Joy of Sex: A Lovemaking Companion to The Joy of Sex", 1973 (sequel)
* "The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking", revised and updated edition, 1986 (revised to include AIDS)
* "More Joy of Sex: A Lovemaking Companion to The Joy of Sex", revised and updated edition, 1987 (sequel; revised to include AIDS)
* "The New Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking for the Nineties", 1991 (revised to bring the science, especially the sociology, up to date)

Updated 2008 edition

Publishers Mitchell Beazley have announced the release of an updated edition of the book that was to be launched in September 2008. The new edition has been rewritten and reinvented by relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam, and approved by Nicholas Comfort, the original author's son. [Caroline Davies. [ "Joy of Sex gets makeover for generation that found Viagra"] . "The Observer", February 10, 2008. Accessed 30 July 2008.]

Twenty-five percent more materialclarify has been added to the book, and the remaining text has been radically rewritten from both a factual and psychological viewpoint to take into account social shifts since 1972. The new edition not only presents a more balanced female/male perspective but also boasts 120 completely re-shot photographs and re-drawn illustrations.

The quirky style—and the message of the book, that sex is fun—remain the same. Mitchell Beazley are marketing the "New Joy" with the subtitle "a thinking person's guide to sex".

Footnotes and references

* John Bear, "The #1 New York Times Best Seller: intriguing facts about the 484 books that have been #1 New York Times bestsellers since the first list, 50 years ago", Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1992.

External links

* [ Website of Susan Quilliam]

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