How to Think More About Sex Book Summary - How to Think More About Sex Book explained in key points
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How to Think More About Sex summary

Alain de Botton

Sage sex advice from a philosophical polymath

4.2 (235 ratings)
37 mins

Brief summary

'How to Think More About Sex' by Alain de Botton explores the complexities of human desire and the cultural influences that shape our attitudes towards sex. It encourages readers to approach this taboo subject with curiosity and open-mindedness.

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    How to Think More About Sex
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    Biology can explain attraction and why we have sex, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

    In the 1960s, the way most Westerners thought about sex suddenly changed. During that decade, intercourse became a topic of conversation, something that could be discussed as casually as a game of tennis – and, like the racket sport, it came to be regarded as an activity beneficial to your constitution.

    It’d be logical to assume that, once sex was accepted as a natural biological function, all sex-related feelings of shame and guilt would have been forever dispelled. But that’s not quite what happened. The fact is that sex remains a sensitive subject even today.

    So why do so many of us still feel awkward about it? A good place to jump in is by asking what sex really is.

    Here, the biological account of sex and attraction only gets us so far. If we want to understand desire, we have to dig a bit deeper.

    Take evolutionary biology. It offers a compelling account of why we find intelligence, strength and beauty attractive.

    The first quality, for example, implies an ability to swiftly adapt to a range of different situations – a handy skill when it comes to ensuring the survival of offspring.

    Strength is another attractive quality indicating an ability to protect infants from potential predators. That’s why displays of brawn are often so beguiling.

    Beauty is suggestive of yet another important quality – health. A huge number of studies carried out around the world show that most of us find facial symmetry attractive. The reason? Evenly distributed features are indicative of a well-functioning immune system and the absence of genetic diseases.

    Though compelling, these explanations don’t account for people whose tastes diverge from the norm.

    Nor does a purely biological account of sex give a full enough picture. Why, for instance, do we derive so much physical pleasure from the act of copulation?

    An evolutionary biologist would claim that the pleasure stems from the nerve endings in our genitals, which are stimulated during sex. That, they’d add, is our reward for engaging in the tricky but vital task of propagating the species.

    That’s a persuasive explanation, right? But think about what it leaves out. Why, for example, is masturbation – an act of straightforward nerve-ending stimulation – never quite as satisfying as having sex with another person? Or take impotence. What explains the fact that someone can suffer from the condition even with the most attractive and considerate of partners?

    Such counterexamples suggest that we need to turn elsewhere if we want a fuller picture. If we’re interested in finding out why sex can make us feel awkward, we need to look at our psychological development.

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    What is How to Think More About Sex about?

    In How to Think More About Sex (2012), Alain de Botton dives into the strange and often uncomfortable world of sex. A nuanced reflection on the true meaning of sex and its place in our lives, these blinks are full of both insights into the psychology of desire and practical advice, such as how to maintain sexual interest within long-term relationships. Sex, de Botton ultimately concludes, will never be simple, but it can be enjoyable. All we need to do is think about it more.

    How to Think More About Sex Review

    How to Think More About Sex (2012) takes a thoughtful approach to unraveling the complexities of human desire, making it a thought-provoking read. Here's why this book is definitely worth your time:

    • It delves into deep-rooted societal norms and cultural taboos around sex, challenging readers to question their assumptions and broaden their perspectives.
    • The book explores the philosophical and psychological aspects of sex, offering introspective insights that encourage a more nuanced understanding of this fundamental human experience.
    • With its balanced mix of personal anecdotes, research, and philosophical observations, the book manages to capture the complexity of sex in a way that is both engaging and enlightening.

    Best quote from How to Think More About Sex

    At last, in the semi-darkness, the couple can confess to the many wondrous and demented things that having a body drives them to want.

    —Alain de Botton
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    Who should read How to Think More About Sex?

    • Anyone who wants to understand their own sexual desires
    • Fans of Freudian psychology and would-be philosophers of sex
    • Anyone who’s ever felt sexually deprived or been stung by rejection

    About the Author

    Alain de Botton is a thinker determined to bring philosophy into the heart of everyday life. The author of seven books on topics ranging from architecture to social anxiety, he is also the founder of the School of Life, an educational company that offers courses designed to help us lead fulfilling lives.

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    How to Think More About Sex FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Think More About Sex?

    The main message of How to Think More About Sex is to explore and understand the complexities of human sexuality.

    How long does it take to read How to Think More About Sex?

    The reading time for How to Think More About Sex varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Think More About Sex a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Think More About Sex is a thought-provoking read that offers insights into the psychology and societal aspects of sex. Highly recommended!

    Who is the author of How to Think More About Sex?

    The author of How to Think More About Sex is Alain de Botton.

    What to read after How to Think More About Sex?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Think More About Sex, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond
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    • Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori A. Brotto
    • Intimacy & Desire by David Schnarch
    • Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown
    • Smart Sex by Emily Morse
    • Sex for One by Betty Dodson
    • The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
    • Resurrecting Sex by David Schnarch
    • He Comes Next by Ian Kerner