In thinking about a title for this piece I was reminded of my first teaching practice at a difficult inner city school. I had taken the class to the library and their task was to choose a non-fiction book to take out, read and review. One young girl looked around from shelf to shelf and said to me, “Hey Miss! Gonna mine me agin? Non-fiction – is that a tale, or is that no a tale?” “It’s no a tale,” I found myself replying, and it has forevermore stuck in my head.
I recently posted about reading fiction and included some of the fiction books that I love as part of May’s Book Matters meme. This week she is asking about non-fiction choices, and although I would have said that I am not much of a reader of non-fiction, when I can to think about it, there were actually quite a few books that I had read which have stayed with me for one reason or another.
My journey into submission and our subsequent D/s lifestyle took me through reading a lot of erotic fiction, but also searching widely for relevant writing which was non-fiction. At this point I had yet to discover the wonderful world of blogging and so ploughed through various books which claimed to be key works for those wanting to learn more about aspects of BDSM. While lots were not relevant to a relationship like ours, a few were helpful, so my first two choices are related to that, while the rest are general reading.
‘Screw the Roses. Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism’ by Philip Miller and Molly Devon.
Although the pictures are dated as this was written some time ago, I think that this is a really good book for beginners as well as for those who are more experienced to dip back into. With different sections so that you can find what you are looking for, the authors explain and demystify many of the activities and practices surrounding D/s and kink. They use their own experience, anecdotes and examples to illustrate how things work, and the book is full of ideas and inspiration.
I feel that the reference to sadomasochism in the title can be somewhat misleading as really they cover many aspects of BDSM and the book is not focussed on S&M in the stereotypical view of the term. Currently it is only available to buy in print, but I have found downloadable version online for those who would prefer to do that. All in all, this was one of the better, more informative and more helpful books that I have read on BDSM, and is one that I would recommend.
‘Real Service’ by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny
This was a book I read a couple of years ago when we were already well established in our dynamic. I had never thought of myself as service orientated but reading this gave me a much better understanding of how service can work in a power exchange. From that point on, looking at some of the things that I did as acts of service, really helped me to see them as having value and helped to support my submissive mindset. So one way or another, this has been a very useful read, both in a practical and in a psychological way.
‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ by Oliver Sacks
I have lost count of how many copies of this book I have bought, but it would definitely be into double figures. When I scanned my shelves prior to writing this piece, it was gone again, so despite the fact I keep replacing it, it is the type of book that I lend out and don’t get back. The book, written by the well known neurologist, Oliver Sacks, is an account of some of the stories of patients he treats who have rare neurological disorders, and is one of the most fascinating collections I have read.
These are case studies of people who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people or common objects; whose limbs have become alien; who are afflicted and yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. In Dr Sacks’s splendid and sympathetic telling, each tale is a unique and deeply human study of life struggling against incredible adversity.
‘Before I Say Goodbye’ by Ruth Picardie
This was a heartbreaking read, but one which has stayed with me for many years. Terminally ill with breast cancer, it follows the story of a mum of one year old twins, as her illness progresses. It is difficult to read, and there is no happy ending, but this was an important book for me none-the-less. I read it when I too was a young mum, and could relate to many of the fears that Ruth shares in the articles, emails, lettters and accounts which make up this very personal book.
‘Desert Flower’ by Waris Dirie
I read this book over twenty years ago and at the time, I knew nothing about female genital mutilation. These days it is much more widely known about but it remains as shocking as a practice today as I found it back then. Despite the difficulties described, there is a beauty in Waris Dirie’s account and in the way that she speaks about her native country of Somalia. This is the true story of the remarkable life of a remarkable woman, and was significant in bringing the tradition of female genital mutilation into the spotlight.
Waris Dirie was circumcised at age 5 and at age 12 her father arranged a marriage to a 60 year old stranger in exchange for 5 camels. She ran away and ended up working in McDonalds where she was discovered by a fashion photographer, and went on to become a model. She is now Special Ambassador for the U.N. and speaks out against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, promoting women’s reproductive rights.