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Vow of Celibacy

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Natalie has made a promise: a vow of celibacy, signed and witnessed by her best friend. After a string of sexual conquests, she is determined to figure out why the intense romantic connections she’s spent her life chasing have left her emotionally high and dry. As Natalie sifts through her past and her present, she confronts her complicated feelings about her plus-sized fi
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Rare Bird Books
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  235 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-during-2017
This is a very late, autumnal review of a book that I LOVED this summer. I was going through a bit of a rut with my summer reading -- I felt overwhelmed by reading academic articles for work, nonfiction that detailed not always pleasant things, and fiction novels that usually featured not the sunniest of characters. Vow of Celibacy snatched me out of that funk. 

The novel opens with our main character Natalie at a little bit of a crossroads in her life, she's not completely satisfied with what sh
There are a lot of things I loved about this book. The representation of bisexuality felt very spot-on and authentic, as did the fat and sex positive rep. I found Natalie to be an interesting, if not fascinating, character; I never felt like I totally got her, but she also kind of felt like a friend from real life? The crux of this plot is Natalie is in her early 30s and decides that since she's been chasing something through sexual relationships since she was a teen she needs to take a "vow of ...more
Emily Dunbar
Part of my fat reads project, this book was one of the few when I originally was doing my research that people actually had good things to say about! And I definitely second those good things!!

Not only is Natalie super-relatable as a fat person, but she was also super interesting and well-rounded. I very much felt like she was a real person with real flaws who made real choices that sometimes had real consequences! Also cannot stress how sick it is to have a fat woman (as the main character no
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Funny, sweet, heartfelt, beautifully written story of a fashion producer who decides to swear off sex. Told alongside her own sexual history and her relationship with her best friend, a famous but anonymous blogger. The kind of book you keep sneaking 3 pages of because it is so satisfying to do so. I loved it. Would read it again tomorrow. Makes you feel great just knowing its out there. The very definition of a great time.
Lara Lillibridge
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqa-spawn
Totally bummed that this book is over! I loved it so much! Natalie is a plus-sized bisexual woman, struggling to find self-acceptance in this hilarious and poignant novel. I have not related to a character more in...ever. See? I loved it so much I lost my ability to write coherently. It's a book about being bisexual and about self-image and about friendship and finally putting a value on your body, and so much more. It's just a really great book. It's been a long time since I was not just sad bu ...more
Samantha Ruddy
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story so much. It made me want to read more books and then get mad at them for not being this book. The characters are all smart, well-written, and relatable. The story is one that everyone can resonate with regardless of size, sexuality etc. I would say that sexuality and body image is the focal point of the book, but Erin also perfectly captured the social politics of high school/early adulthood. Added bonus: it's very funny. Hilarious, even. I would recommend it to anybody. ...more
Lucy Bledsoe
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Smart and hilarious, such a relief to read a book about a woman who loves her big body and loves sex, too.
Melanie Page
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fat-characters
Vow of Celibacy is one of those books that turned me off immediately in two ways: 1) The title. Why must the fat woman be celibate?! 2) The first three sentences, which read, “Anastaze called me at 6:57 a.m. this morning. I left my ringer on for this very reason. Anastaze (pronounced “anna-STAYS”). . .” I hate the redundancy — so lazy, so early in the book — and a first-person narrator giving pronunciation notes. Is the name so hard, or should a different name have been chosen? And for whom is s ...more
Hannah Joy
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! A lot of Natalie's experiences mirrored my own growing up and it felt so good to see someone else going through it. Natalie was such a great character and I loved watching her grow. A fantastic and honest novel about bisexuality and loving the person you are!! Couldn't put it down!! ...more
A.M. Leibowitz
At the start of the book, we learn about Natalie’s vow of celibacy. She then embarks on a journey to share with readers what happened leading up to her vow. This takes us all the way back to her teenage years as she processes through what went wrong in her relationships. Interspersed with her memories, we see her growth in the present day and eventually where she’s headed.

This is not a romance. It’s a genuinely bisexual-themed book with a whole lot of other underlying messages about body and sex
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
Absolutely charming. This is more of a coming-of-age story than a story about the main character's present-day life, with a thoughtful retrospective take on her relationship with her career, her relationship to her body and food, and of course her romantic exploits. The overall feeling is having a cup of delicious cocoa and reminiscing about the past with a new friend that you can tell will become an old friend. Highly recommended, especially for bi women, plus-sized women, and anyone else who s ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in a while - within its pages, you will find a very honest (and oftentimes funny) portrayal of navigating budding (bi)sexuality, friendships, careers, rejection, dating, self-image, and family as a plus-sized woman. Natalie is an amazing protagonist, a breath of fresh air, as her voice and self-awareness bring a refreshing light in a world where so many books feature conventionally gorgeous yet dead-behind-the-eyes woman protagonists.

Kudos to Erin Judge f
Maureen Lee
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've had this book on my shelf nearly a year and boy do I wish I hadn't waited so long--it's fantastic. Funny, heartbreaking, and full of masses of insight. It can be quite difficult to know and accept yourself in life, and Judge expertly captures the exquisite pain and beauty of those circumstances. Her work throbs with a palpable yearning while also never losing its biting wit. So delightful--it made me want to work on loving myself more because I loved the characters and their journeys so muc ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading Vow of Celibacy. It sucked me in from the very beginning. The main character is smart, capable, and witty. The friendship between Natalie and Anastaze is sweet and adds some great banter to the story. Vow of Celibacy looks at dating, friendship, career stuff, sexuality, body image, and figuring out what you want in life and the author ties it all together MASTERFULLY. It is a wonderful read.
Witty, well-written, poignant, sexy, relatable, heartfelt, hilarious, engrossing.

It's been a while since I've binged a book, and I'm sad this one is over. Even though the ending was perfect, I easily could have read double the page count! The characters are relatable and complex, plot is fast-paced and compelling, subject matter is topical and deserving.

"Equal parts heart and wit." A rare novel.

Major book hangover to come.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, queer-stuff
At first, I thought the writing was a bit fluffy but once I got into the rhythm of the book, I really appreciated the light tone. The story itself deals with the main character's very real Stuff, and I enjoyed reading about an openly bisexual character whose queerness was not a central source of distress. ...more
Becky Harman
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and what turns into a reflection on today's hookup culture and how that really affects how we see ourselves. I saw some of my own life mirrored in some of the anecdotes, and the voice is funny without losing impact. A quick read, but one I didn't want to put down until the end!! ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounds up to 5. Can't wait for more book writing from Erin Judge! ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this and can't wait to talk about it with my book club next week!!! ...more
Yaiza Canopoli
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt-recs
A bit fluffy for me but quite funny!!
Sara Rauch
Review coming for Lambda Literary.
Lindsay Sproul
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it came out, and I just LOVE Natalie. She's so compelling and hilarious, and she's also a really important narrator in terms of bi-rep. (There's FAR too little bi-rep...) I love her rocky, messy and honest shift both from designing clothing to modeling, and in terms of her journey of self discovery. Natalie's arc completely overshadows her friend Anastaze's storyline in my opinion--but that was totally fine with me, because I fell in love with Natalie from page one. While I ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist, queer
I really enjoyed this book. Hooray for plus-size bisexual mostly happy main characters! While I understand that her body shame was a huge thing for her, I did get a bit sick of the constant references to her size. After a while I was like, I get it already! I guess that's probably how someone with so much anxiety about their body feels all the time, so maybe it was intentional. ...more
Scarllet ✦ iamlitandwit
This is one of those stories that just stays with you even after it ends, ESPECIALLY after it ends. Natalie's journey of self reflection was rough to read since she had so many body image issues despite her apparent confidence in herself. I don't know which parts I liked more, the past or the present but I can say that found myself wanting to continue reading both throughout. I really loved this narrative and wanted the best for Natalie and Staze even when they made some choices I didn't particu ...more
Jessica Daniels
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I was slightly thrown off by the structure in the beginning, and I thought the ending was premature, but the middle was a very thoughtful, engaging examination of friendships, sexuality and the blurry lines of relationships. I really appreciated how relatively grounded the stakes were. This is a book about a woman figuring herself out, which is an important task that nevertheless rarely gets the treatment and time it deserves.
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a delightfully body-positive and bi-affirming book. I normally stay away from coming-of-age books nowadays, as I trudge through my coming-of-middle-age years, but darn if this wasn't a fat tumbler glass full of literary refreshment. ...more
Lynnette McFadzen
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful body positive book!
Katie Tower
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful, funny and touching read. It is insightful and left me feeling hopeful and excited. Definitely read this!!!
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun romp that was truly body-positive (even though they didn't use the word fat), and just nice to see a fat girl living a life that's not only about her size! ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well-written, feminist, sexy, superb novel of self-discovery. One of the sharpest descriptions of teenage romance I've ever read. As a bonus, set largely in my town. ...more
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Erin Judge is a writer, comedian, host, producer, and athleisure wear enthusiast based in Los Angeles. Her debut novel Vow of Celibacy won Best Fiction at the Bi Book Awards. Erin co-hosts Romantic Comedy , a popular monthly comedy show at the world-famous Ripped Bodice romance bookstore.

As a playwright, Erin wrote on FEED (2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, touring the UK in 2020) and co

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