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Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  780 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Poet, novelist, and essayist, the legendary Erica Jong—whose novel Fear of Flying opened eyes and broke down walls—offers us a provocative collection of essays about sex from some of the most respected female authors writing today. “Real Women Write about Real Sex” in Sugar in My Bowl, as such marquee names as Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Daphne Merken, Anne Roiphe, Liz Smith ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2011)
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Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, essays
This is an abridged version of my review. To read the full thing, click here.

This book. Arrrrgh. This book.

I was initially intrigued by Sugar in My Bowl, a collection of essays edited by Erica Jong, because of its premise. In her introduction, Jong raises a lot of great points about the gender-based double standards when it comes to writing about sex. Jong was surprised that even now, women were hesitant to write about the subject; she was even more surprised at how many contributors felt the ne
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time that Ms. Jong has disappointed me. Not every feminist agrees or will see eye-to-eye; but we do agree we are willing to support the tribe. This is one of those moments I don't get why Jong is considered part of the Feminist book list? The stories had no rhyme or reason, they where just randomly put together. I was expecting erotica, realization of the body and the mind, overcoming fears, body issues and the like. There is none of that in this book, it's about damaged love, ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Book club is getting a little wild and crazy this summer!:)

Hmm. First off, I'm proud I finished this one 'cause the first half was awful. Maybe it's cathartic to write about your affairs and multiple marriages, but not so great to read about.
Jong's daughter wrote about how she is a prude and boring and may be this way 'cause she has all the rights she needs.
I think I'm the same.
Oct 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
What is the anthology meant to be? Clearly, the contributors were asked to write on "the best sex they ever had," but that's not the anthology title, nor even subtitle. I thought this collection was pretty bad: terribly conceptualized, organized, executed, and with the exception of few pieces, not very well-written. Jong didn't seem to do much work here. I don't even like the title: these are "real" women writing about "real" sex? Real perhaps in the fact that they are all-over-the-board, just l ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure I'd be too quick to call a book like this transgressive and brave, like the descriptions I read about it did. Nearly every story was written by middle-class woman over the age of 50, about completely mundane, heteronormative sexual experiences. I believe there was one essay by a woman of color, and ZERO written about or by any lesbians or bisexuals. There was even a transphobic piece, which was just loooovely to find in a book that's supposed to be inclusive and empowering.

Beyond all t
Butterfly du Jour
Where to begin? This is a phenomenal read. The stories, personal essays, and confessions of sex, love, sexuality, and all that connect, by women, are real, timeless, and full of life. Real life.

This anthology of “Real Women Writing About Real Sex” is a treasure of experiences and stories by women. These women speak about their lives, They tell us about sex in all its many forms: marriage struggles, love and getting pregnant while abroad in Spain (“A Fucking Miracle” by Elisa Albert), stories abo
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I'd have picked up, turned over, and browsed through at the bookstore but I'm not sure if I'd have purchased it on my own. I got the opportunity to read it through the folks at Harper and I'm quite glad I did. Erica Jong presents a collection of short pieces by a number of women writers. Some are personal memoirs, others fiction, and they focus on a range of topics relating to woman and sex. The pieces range from budding childhood interest to sexual attraction in a seniors so ...more
This book caught my eye because of the candy in the picture. It was like: "Jellybeans!... No wait, sex!" Then I started wondering if jellybeans have some kind of sexual symbolism I never knew about before. But it turns out they're gumballs in the picture anyway, so apparently not.

I thought this would be a fun book, but of essays selected at random, two were funny, one was hot, and five-ish were depressing. There sure is a lot of bad sex in the world. If this doesn't cheer up soon, back it goes.

I'm not going to star this review because I had a weird reaction to it. I really did not want to read the fiction pieces, because I felt that they broke up the collection. If I had been editing this anthology, I would have only included essays. There was also bits of a stage monologue and a comic and those worked for me. I didn't like the fiction in with my essays.

The essays in this collection were great- there was one about casual sex, inappropriate sex, watching as a daughter discovers her sex
Deanna Dailey
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading other people's reviews, and I agree with most of the negative things that are said. The essays are disjointed, seem to be about varying topics, the fiction and nonfiction side-by-side is kinda weird, all those things are true. But I loved this book anyway. I have a really short attention span for yet another collection of erotica, so I was expecting this to be a quick skim and probably not finishing it. Instead, it was a collection of truly engaged essays about hard topics.

I di
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh, there's something in something, somewhere. Apparently Jong picked the title after Google told her how many other books were already called "Best Sex Ever," which is fine. But the contributors all wrote about their best sex ever, or more specifically, the fact that most of them haven't had it yet. While this may have been an attempt at optimism ("that best sex ever is just around the corner, I know it!"), the combined effect is somewhat depressing. There is not much sex actually happening in ...more
Cliff Sain
I couldn't resist a book that give a woman's perspective on writing about sex (or in this case, the views of many women), especially in the wake of "Fifty Shades of Gray," which seems unreadable just based on the small passages I've read. These are often smart, insightful essays and stories. How the individual writers tackle the subject ranges from raunchy down to "why did you even want to be part of this book?"
Most of the stories are autobiographical. I especially liked "Love Rollercoaster 1975
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got a very strong sense that this book had no real idea what it wanted to be, Some of the pieces were about the writers' best and worst sexual experiences, some were examined writing about sex as a woman, some were coming-of-age stories. It's as if Jong gave out a multiple-choice assignment on the essays (and some are actually short fiction) and then didn't arrange it in any particular order. The pieces feel rushed, too, and very underedited. Which is too bad -- the concept was promising, and ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has a provocative title, but don't expect erotica here. A collection of sexual memoirs in the form of short stories, this book is about sex as a life energy, a charge that is felt throughout our lives. According to these stories, it is perhaps felt earlier in life, and later in life, than you might imagine! There are stories about the first time, and the last time. This is a book about the powerful feelings associated with sexuality: the urgency, the poetry, the pleasure, the pain. In the wor ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to be about women showing off about their sexual experiences while trying to be edgy. It was actually more thoughtful and compassionate. I loved that it was honest and without an agenda. Some of these stories could get you hot in the way they described their sexual encounters. I also loved that these women writers are all true lovers of the arts in every form. I can tell by their references. I would love to hang with these gals!
Jul 24, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Don't you want to join my book club?! ...more
Dead John Williams
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favs, reviewed, sex
Sugar In My Bowl by various women 2 Reviews in one!
This starts when I read "The Devil At Large" by Erica Jong. It is about Henry Miller. If you don't know who either Erica Jong or Henry Miller is then there is no point in reading much beyond this. Sorry.
I was surprised to read Erica Jong taking up cudgels on behalf of Henry Miller. Yes, you read that right. It's funny how you can read something and it is not until years later that someone points out the obvious.
Henry Miller is an unredeemed w
Autumn Kotsiuba
Er...okay. I cringed checking this book out at the library; I read it only when I was home alone. I mean, reading about sex? What a perverted thing to do...

And that's the whole point. This attitude of "sex is inherently shameful" is detrimental, whether it's coming from an antifeminist platform or from an overzealous religious one. This book explored specific women's experiences going from Catholic school to wild nights; from refusing to looking at themselves in the mirror to allowing anyone a p
Mary Havens
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like all anthologies, there were some entries I loved, some I tolerated, and some that were forgettable. I definitely connected with the non-fiction pieces more than the fiction, the exceptions being Jennifer Weiner's piece and Julie Klam's (that might not have been fiction now that I look back). I LOVED Eve Ensler's play, the comic from Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Jean Hanff Korelitz, and Min Jin Lee's. The ones that fell absolutely flat for me where any kind of "erotic" fiction. That's not my t ...more
Crankyface (Danielle)
It’s hard to classify this book under shelves because the essays vary so much, while still feeling a little limiting. My favorite essay was about a mother dealing with her young daughter’s love of nudity and self-exploration. Some essays were funny, a couple were kind of hot, but most were more about older women and their early relationship to sex as a concept.
I didn’t love this book. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and the title is a lot more scintillating than the book was, but I
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As a sort of recovering Puritan but without much left in the way of hangups about sex, I didn't know I was missing this lovely collection of women discussing sex. These writers share their personal experience of sex, or a sexual encounter. For the most part, this is not socio-political criticism. There is wonderful variation, which really makes me appreciate how pervasive and essential sex is, but also how it encompasses a huge range of expressions. Almost all of the stories do deal at some leve ...more
Elizabeth O
I wanted this to be better than it was. It certainly could have been more intersectional when considering "real women", but there was some diversity in the type of story, (funny reflections on an innocent girl attending catholic school and not understanding a thing about sex, some erotica, some sentimental reflections, some discussion of infertility, etc, etc.)
A couple I thought were well-written:
The Diddler- JAK Andres
Reticence and Fieldwork - Min Jin Lee
Worst Sex- Gail Collins
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were one or two essays in this that I really liked, and I found it a compelling read. However the blatant transphobic, hetero normative vibe of multiple essays brings it to a thumbs down from me.
Lowry Mainereader
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great topic, great writing, lots of different approaches - plus it's lots of fun to read. ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, own-ebooks
Like any anthology, I greatly enjoyed some entries, disliked others, and are ambivalent towards the rest. It's a good collection for exploring and celebrating feminism. ...more
Klarissa Malloy
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was good.
Laura Santana
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, enlightening insider, encouraging. I can't believe what I read, amazing. The stories, couldn't get enough wish there where more. I did not get enough. ...more
Jj Burch
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. I almost put it down when an author refused to use the correct pronouns for a former lover. Super heteronormative, and nothing all that “real.” Disappointed.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely interesting anthology that provides many scenarios of 'real sex' from a woman's perspective. The insight of women like our mothers AND grandmothers is quite illuminating. ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lack of POC writers is disappointing.
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Erica Jong—novelist, poet, and essayist—has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 21 books, including eight novels, six volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, and the New Yor ...more

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