Come As You Are: Yeah, Read It. (But Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You)

Come As You Are | The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life

Emily Nagoski

1st Edition (2015)

Simon & Schuster | ISBN 978-1476762098


About The Book

The publisher touts this work as “an essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.”

We sort of wish “women’s sexuality” were somehow represented in the title. The tagline “The Surprising New Science that Will Transform HER Sex Life” may be more accurate. Not that men shouldn’t know about it, and not that some of the contents don’t apply to men as well as women, just that women are clearly the focus of this work.

Introduction | Yes, You Are Normal

Part 1 | The (Not So) Basics
1 Anatomy: No Two Alike
2 The Dual Control Method: Your Sexual Personality
3 Context: The “One Ring” (to rule them all) in Your Emotional Brain

Part 2 | Sex in Context
4 Emotional Context: Sex in a Monkey Brain
5 Cultural Context: A Sex-Positive Life in a Sex-Negative World

Part 3 | Sex in Action
6 Arousal: Lubrication is Not Causation
7 Desire: Actually, It’s Not a Drive

Part 4 | Ecstasy for Everybody
8 Orgasm: The Fantastic Bonus
9 Meta-Emotions: The Ultimate Sex-Positive Context

Conclusion | You Are The Secret Ingredient


What We Thought

I  listened to this book on Audible, read by the author. Her personality and enthusiasm for the subject matter were evident in her reading.

I have to agree with reader Cassandra, whose GoodReads review starts out, “This book was awesome for some reasons and cringe-worthy for others,” and Daniela, whose entire review summarily states, Loved her message, but didn’t love her style.”

Yep.

I think I may be a kindred spirit with Isil Arican. Her GoodReads opinion on Nagoski’s writing style is spot on:

This book reminds me why I hate reading self help books….Writer thinks she is funny and she is not. And the style is mostly for teenagers. There are some useful information but it feels too redundant since she keeps repeating the same things over and over again….I laughed out loud when she made an analogy on losing weight – removing your brain makes you lose 4 pounds of fat, or amputation would make your BMI go down. My laugh was not because she is funny but because of the ridiculous analogies she made.

Yes. This. So much this.

Even the GOOD analogies (there were some) get beaten to death, and I spent most of the book feeling as if I were being talked to as a child rather than an intelligent, adult woman. Nagoski’s attempts to be casual and friendly in tone rubbed me the wrong way, coming across more as condescending and irritatingly cutesy.

Let me be clear: Nagoski’s writing style is repetitive, grating, and unappealing to me. You may love it.

I got the book for the promise of science, not cheerleading. A chief complaint for me was the amount of time Nagoski spends telling the reader what she is about to tell the reader — talking about the book in the book. I did a lot of fast-forwarding through that stuff, after a while.

Of course there are LOTS and LOTS of people who love this book for both its contents and its writing style, so Nagoski might accuse me of “yucking someone else’s yum” (insert eye roll here) by writing that her style is repetitive, grating, and unappealing. Let me be clear: Nagoski’s writing style is repetitive, grating, and unappealing to me. You may love it. It will help if you really, really like garden analogies.

The information is worth cringing through the writing style.

Having said that…we still recommend that you read or listen to this book. [Or — if you can find it — read a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version that cuts through the crap.]

How come? Because the information is worth cringing through the writing style (trust me, I don’t always say that). Because what you may learn about the relationship between sexual desire, arousal, and action may in fact be just as “transformational” as the publisher promises. Because some chapters in this book got me thinking for days and days about my own sexual self.

And any book that can accomplish that, even if I don’t care for the writing style, is worth my time.


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featured photo | Nicoleta Ionescu

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