Sex, Married Women And Book Clubs. Oh My!

Love, Sex

There is a Shameless book club controversy in Vermont! Do we need to protect the grown ups?

Last week, a children’s bookseller, Elizabeth Bluemle wrote a fascinating blog over at Publisher’s Weekly Shelf Talker – about being “enamored of an adult non fiction selection called Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure, and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner. It’s the story of the author’s midlife crisis, her growing realization that somewhere along the way, she’d lost an important piece of herself: the full sense of her identity independent of her societal roles. Most notably, her sense of self as a sexual being. A successful fertility advocate and happy wife and mother, the author had her act together but felt that something big was missing, and she set out to find it.” Elizabeth goes on….

“I love this book as an adult book-group choice because it addresses so many issues familiar to women in our community’s book groups: sex, marriage, motherhood, aging, weight, body image, identity, shame, fear, courage, risk. Even better—in terms of fodder for discussion—is that it’s wildly controversial; I guarantee you that no group of readers will all be in agreement on the nature of the path of self-discovery on which Madsen embarks. (That’s a convoluted way of saying she gets sexy, big-time, and in unconventional, sometimes uncomfortable, ways.)

The book is direct and fearless and does not always portray the author in the best possible light. Whether or not you agree with her methods or conclusions, there’s no denying that the memoir takes on a goodly number of personal preoccupations likely to be on the minds of American women over the age of forty. Book group gold! Right? Well, sort of.”

<Insert Pause Here> What happened after Elizabeth recommended Shameless to her adult book club was a very mixed reaction of joy and yes – shock and anger!

True confession: This is my book they are talking about here – and frankly, my life!

I was both fascinated and equally disturbed that book clubs would consider book censorship in regard to my memoir – was it really that salacious? Was my story really book banning material?  After all, we live in the day and age of “Hung” on HBO – and regular sex scenes that involve vampires, blood and more on "True Blood" which are both main stream successes!

I wondered if the book club readers that were freaked out by a real-live married woman trying to figure out her sexuality in an out of the box way, watched these shows and even talked about them?

I also wondered what was appropriate reading for a book club? Was sexuality off the table? Or was it the "non-fiction married part" that had everyone so upset? After all – Shameless was hardly Looking For Mr. Goodbar or Fear of Flying And what if it was?

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