It can be hard to educate friends about sex toys, if they have no experience with toys (outside of a vibrating egg they bought years ago). Some people can be really embarrassed or timid when talking about what they want to stick in their bodies. Now I know what to get them. The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Sex Toys (a ridiculously long title, in my opinion) by Violet Blue, covers a ton of information. One thing that I love about it, is that it repeats over and over about the importance of safe materials and the risks of porous materials. Something that can make someone lose interest when you’re trying to explain it to them. It’s amazing, you talk about safety/quality and people start to look at you like you’re a vacuum salesman. This doesn’t always happen, but it can.
The book is broken up into 10 chapters. They are as follows:
xi: Forward by Charlie Glickman, PhD
Chapter One: Basic Models, and Care and Feeding of Your Toys
Chapter Two: First-Time Toys and Gifts
Chapter Three: Come Together
Chapter Four: Kinky Toys for Two
Chapter Five: Strap-Ons and Bend Over Boyfriend
Chapter Six: Teledildonic Toys: Online Sex for Two
Chapter Seven: Sex Machines
Chapter Eight: Exotic Sex Toys
Chapter Nine: Sex Furniture
Chapter Ten: Shop Smart and Recommended Resources
About the Author
The foreword by Charlie Glickman, PhD, relaxed me. Not that I’m uptight about toys. Obviously I’m not, but it is written in a laid back tone, and down to earth. He talks about how sex toys have changed in the 20 years he’s been a sex educator, how toys used to be and how they used to be marketed, how he met Violet Blue when they were both working at Good Vibrations, and a quick list of ideas for someone to create a 50 Shades experience. My favorite thing about it? It’s short. I hate long forewords. This one keeps it light, and gets out of the way. Perfect.
Chapter One goes over basic information on vibrators, dildos, and butt plugs. It warns people of the “Novelty Only” label that adorns many toys. It recommends companies that don’t hide behind that label, and own up to being sex toy companies. The first ones recommended? Tantus, Vixen Creations, Fun Factory, and Sportsheets. It talks about different vibrators, from the Hitachi (Smart Wand) to Slimeline to rabbit vibes. It goes over Toys for Boys. It explains cock rings, and talks about masturbation sleeves. It covers butt plugs and anal beads. It stresses the importance of safety with anal play. Then it goes over the safety of materials, cleaning, and storage. The chapter doesn’t just mention the importance of safety, but rather it goes into depth about why certain materials are unsafe. I wish it yelled “NO JELLY, NO EXECPTIONS!”, but I’m sure that would scare a few readers off. It does, however, tell readers to look for the label that says, “Phthalate-Free”. The beauty of this book? Violet doesn’t limit her warnings of porous materials to just this chapter. She drops warnings about porous materials all over the place, and offers body safe alternatives for most of the products.
Now, Chapter Two is where it really becomes a “couple’s” book. It talks about how to approach a partner with the idea of bringing toys into the bedroom, how to look for toys together, ideas of how to surprise your partner with a sex toy, and how to pick them out. It goes over picking out toys for the sex toy novice. Again it goes over the basics with G-Spot toys, anal toys, cock rings, first time vibrators, and the importance of lube. This time it’s not about what they’re for, but more about where to start as far as shapes, sizes, and preferences. It talks a lot about fantasies and communication. One thing I did like about the chapter is that it has the person bringing up toys to their partner, to reverse roles before bringing them up. That bringing up toys, after never talking about them, can be upsetting. I like that it mentions this, because not all sex toy conversations end with a dildo inside of you (or them). It can take awhile for your partner (or you) to warm up. It doesn’t talk much about the conversation going in a negative direction, but I like the fact that Violet doesn’t pretend that it won’t happen. Violet writes realistically. I found some of the suggestions cheesy, but I started to think about it. How do you ease someone into the idea of sex toys, if they’ve never been used in the relationship or talked about? In action I could see her suggestions being effective (as far as sweetening up your partner by sticking a vibrator in the middle of a bouquet of flowers). If this is your plan, definitely do as Violet suggests, and write out a shopping list. I know if my husband were to stick a crap vibe in a bouquet of roses, I’d probably ruin the moment.
Chapter Three is all about communication. Talking with your partner about what you want and what they want. It talks about planning ahead, laying out toys, and getting your batteries in order before hand. It talks about cunnilingus and fellatio, more toys, and keeping a sense of humor through the whole experience (since nothing ever goes exactly to plan). One thing that I love is that Violet is completely honest about toys. Like this, “The remote control models are one speed (she’s talking about panty vibes) and tend to be rather loud, so if you’re fantasizing about wearing your vibe out in public…make sure it’s somewhere loud, like a dance club or a construction site.” She sounds like a sex toy reviewer right there. She goes on to talk about how toys can give your jaw a break during oral sex, and how to incorporate them in oral sex.
From the fourth chapter to the tenth chapter, Violet covers everything that the chapter titles imply. She leaves nothing out, and goes into detail with each type of item. From double ended dildos, to how to choose a webcam for your particular needs. With each type of item, Violet talks about how to choose them, how to use them, and where you can get them. One thing that I like about Violet’s writing style in The Adventurous Couple’s Guide (still a ridiculously long name) to Sex Toys, is that she’s talking to the readers. Her writing style makes it apparent that there is a human being behind her words, and not a condescending robot with a monotone voice.
Overall, I think this a book ideal for people new to sex toys and indulging in new fantasies with a partner. I found it hard to read because a lot of the information I already knew. The number one thing I appreciate about this book, is that Violet is constantly talking about safety. Whether it be about material choices when picking out a toy, or with safety with rope play. She gives the information on how to be safe, and why it’s a necessity. She doesn’t just say, “Jelly is bad. Don’t use it. Rubber is bad. Don’t use it.” She talks about why and how to protect yourself if you’re going to use it. She doesn’t just say it once either. She mentions it with each product that comes in porous materials. At the very end of the book, she includes three lists of what can be contracted (high risk to n/a) through sharing toys, anal to oral contact (penis or toy), and anal to vaginal contact (penis or toy).
As a sex toy reviewer, I loved the name drops and referrals to toys I know (from personal experience or have read about). I love the fact that she packs a ton of information into a book with a very personable tone. I like Charlie Glickman’s little side bubbles filled with information (he signs them “-CG”). As an experienced toy player, it was hard to reread information that I’m well versed in. I would recommend this to people who have a desire to bring toys into the bedroom and don’t really know where to start or what questions to ask. It’s helpful that there a few pictures thrown in here and there, to elaborate the toys/items being talked about. Plus it breaks up the reading a bit. It’s a great book that I intend to gift to a few friends, but it isn’t much of a read for experienced toy players who have researched other areas of kink.