Kama Sutra 101

Kama Sutra 101

From the “biting of a boar” and the “splitting of a bamboo” to advice on being a good spouse (and citizen), there’s a lot to learn from the Kama Sutra.

Loosely translated as “love aphorisms,” this classic manual was written in Sanskrit between the first and sixth centuries A.D. by Indian nobleman and scholar Vatsyayana. Anyone can publish a translation, so editions abound. But as with any tool, you need to select the right one for the job: Read on to see which version of this ancient text will perform best on your bedside table.

Love Ph.D. The Complete Kama Sutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text Translated by Alain Daniélou/Inner Traditions $19.95 (paperback) This comprehensive and academic translation elegantly preserves the Kama Sutra as literature and closely follows Vatsyayana’s original work. Devoid of pictures, it requires a vivid imagination—and your partner will have to believe that you bought it for the “articles.”

The Bare Essentials The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Kama Sutra (2nd Edition) By Johanina Wikoff, Ph.D. and Deborah S. Romaine/Alpha $18.95 (paperback) You’ll definitely do the homework detailed in this contemporary, textbook-like volume. Sparsely supplemented with drawings, this guidebook strips down the Kama Sutra for the lover who wants a no-frills crib sheet to ecstasy.

The Keeper The Complete Illustrated Kama Sutra Edited by Lance Dane/Inner Traditions $25.00 (hardcover) The most visually pleasing of the bunch, in the right company this balanced book might find its place on the coffee table. With 250 reproductions of original art and gracefully translated text, it will satisfy the sexually curious and educate the historically inclined.

Bicycle Built for Two Kama Sutra: Sexual Positions for Him and for Her By Anne Hooper/ DK Adult $15.00 (paperback) No need for a lovers’ quarrel! This reversible book presents sexual positions engineered from his perspective on one side, hers on the other. Written by a former Penthouse editor, the pocket-size, photograph-heavy manual also draws from the North African Perfumed Garden, the Chinese Tao, and the Ananga Ranga (the Kama Sutra’s little sister), to cover the sexual map.

Congress in Cardboard The Pop-Up Kama Sutra: Six Paper-Engineered Variations By Sir Richard Burton and F.F. Arbuthnot/Stewart, Tabori & Chang $22.50 (hardcover) The childhood-evoking pop-up aspect of this attractive, amusing book makes it feel distinctly naughty. Though it showcases only six 3-D positions (in varying degrees of absurdity), here’s a source of endless entertainment at a bachelorette party or wedding shower.