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Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom, showing up in all manner of pop culture, from sitcoms to talk shows to the pages of glossy women’s magazines. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stim ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Pegasus Books
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  173 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Susie Dumond
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The history of sex toys, written by the first person to earn a PhD in sex toy history. That's enough of a reason to check out Buzz! Lieberman has written a fantastic overview of sex toy history, especially in the U.S., along with the role sex toys have played in feminist movements, LGBTQ culture, and societal conversations around sexuality. I really enjoyed how she opened the book by explaining her interest in sex toys and the complications presented by obscenity laws. Overall, the book is very ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-arcs
The first person to receive a PhD in the history of sex toys, Hallie Lieberman has written a fascinating book that tells you everything you wanted to know on the subject, and more. For example, did you know that until as recently as 2008, it was illegal to sell sex toys in Texas? Obscenity laws there (and elsewhere) set the stage for decades-worth of headaches and careful maneuvering for anyone involved in selling them. Regardless of the specific topic—whether it's about manufacturing, advertisi ...more
Barred Owl Books
In the vein of Mary Roach's Bonk, a brilliant microhistory of the sex toy that ultimately tells the story of our changing sexual mores and evolving cultural values.

Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stimulating one.

In Buzz, Hallie Lieberman provides a riveting history that
This was an interesting look at the history of sex toys, though it focuses primarily on their history in America rather than worldwide. I was fascinated to discover that dildos sprang from prosthetic penises that had been developed for men who were disabled.

Lieberman touches on legal issues surrounding the marketing and distribution of sex toys in the past, which are fascinating - particularly as some of the issues are still unresolved in certain conservative states. A lot of focus is given (as
Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
Loved this book! Lieberman has written a thorough, readable, and just awesome history of sex toys. I really appreciated her discussion of queer issues and disability issues within the sex toy world. Previous books I've read on similar topics barely covered queer issues and didn't even talk about disability issues.
Chels Patterson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I find I am between two places after finishing this book. I enjoyed it and thought it was wonderful, at the same time I need to caveat of sex toys in America. And probably another disclaimer that it speaks of and researches heavily in the legal and irrelevant history of personal sex boutiques, activists, and sexton makers.

Honestly I didn’t care about the guy that got indicted for tax fraud or someone’s personal awakening at having an orgasm. I think I could’ve tolerated it if it was one or two c
Jessi Trimble
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't expect a book about sex toys to be so dry and tedious. Far from a comprehensive history of the sex toy, Buzz quickly turns into a play-by-play account of the arms race between sex toy manufacturers (and, later, sex shop owners) in the United States. Much of Lieberman's research seems to be based on the firsthand accounts of folks in the trenches of the industry in the 70s and 80s--sex educators (including the amazing Betty Dodson), heirs to sex-toy empires, and feminist shop owners--but ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-won
What a great and enjoyable book to read.
The time line ran smoothly through the history of the toys. Each chapter had just enough to keep you interested.
Even the cover had a fun feeling texture.
Would recommend and pass this book along.
Look forward to another from Hallie
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, this was certainly an interesting read. The history was enlightening, I never would have guessed so much was illegal until so recently. Worth a read.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Interesting and very well researched. Ending was abrupt and it could have been edited down a little.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written and researched (25% of my Kindle copy is reserved for footnotes and citations) AND a good read. I like that author Hallie Lieberman is uber diverse in writing sex history that includes LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and more. And I cannot believe that Alabama bans sex toys in the modern era. The book was published in 2017! Alabama should stop wasting time prosecuting vibrator sales and work on solving problems like poverty, racism or violence against women.
Eric Smith
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a deeply researched and very well written history of sex toys in the United States from the 1960s to the present. Lieberman, who has a Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, appears to have interviewed almost every key player in the field, including several who have since passed away. She has mined obscure archives and rare documents, local newspapers and scholarly books, weaving it all together in a compelling story filled with vivid portraits of the key innovators in the sex- ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Alternately revelatory, enraging*, and hilarious Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. takes its readers on a fascinating journey. Reading the long history of phallic devices, considering the reasoning between behind different

*because sexism
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-and-sex
If you're looking for a feminist primer into the history of sex toys, this is it. The book is a little less about the history of sex toys and more about the cultural impact / relationship with the Second Wave feminist movement. I think if you're looking for a more nuanced, historical book about sex and culture, this isn't it (as the author has a definite slant / agenda - and explains why in relatable terms - this book is very much a personal endeavor for her), but if you're looking for a fun lit ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A woman in Texas was arrested in a sting operation for selling a vibrator to a pair of cops posing as a married couple. This woman was a conservative Christian who played the organ at her church and had four children in a happy marriage, and her life was destroyed because she had the audacity to sell vibrators, in the late 90s. This story and others like it is all the reason the reader needs to understand the importance of this book.

Vibrators, dildos, and sex toys in general operate in a complic
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Buzz by Hallie Lieberman is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October.

The author Is an affirming, honest, fun, warm-blooded lass, who had also been a private contractor salesperson with Forbidden Fruit (similar to Pure Romance passion parties, but naughtier), before performing a significant amount of research on the history of sex toys and select number of retail purveyors & manufacturers throughout the U.S. (extra big kudos to Gosnell Duncan, the Marches, and the Pleasure Chest).
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
DNF- 30 pages in

Good book, but I just couldn't get sucked into it.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
While the topic was interesting and the author certainly did her research the writing is a little disjointed and jumps around a lot, which was hard to follow. I had to go back and reread sections several times because the author started talking about a future thing or different topic in the middle of a topic and then jumped right back to the first topic after the tangent.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was a fascinating read. I never had any idea that the sex toy industry was so interesting. It is so relevant with the story about the casting couch. A very empowering book for women. A must read for all women.
Full review on my blog.

Holy wow did this book cover a lot of material in so few pages! It’s a little under 300 pages, and a hefty chunk of that (I think something like 50-80, but I had to guess because I had an e-ARC) is notes at the end. Hallie Lieberman definitely knows her stuff about sex toys, which isn’t surprising considering she’s got a freaking Ph.D on the subject.

She talks about the obscenity laws that have made the selling of sex toys illegal, or at the very least quite difficult (I th
Liz Wilson
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you can handle the strange looks on public transport, then this book is well worth a read. Truly interesting and original, shining a light on a little-known corner of social history. Ironically the looks you may receive for reading the book publicly today, in some small way, replicate the stigma and uncomfortableness of the subject matter throughout history. However make no mistake, this is not a lewd history of what gets people off, but rather a cultural window into the history of the politi ...more
Haley Hughes
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot! It was very interesting and clearly heavily researched. I learned a ton about the history of sex toys and about how activism intersected with the rise of manufacturing and distributing them. I also had fun reading it. thauthor didn't try to make it overly dry to be taken seriously and that was refreshing because honestly who wants to read a boring book about sex toys?

I had three complaints that kept me from giving it a 5.

1) I really felt like because of the serious foc
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and feminist history of the sex toy in the United States.
It's especially interesting to me how much of this is actually fairly recent history (in my lifetime, even!) because while it does show how far we've come (har har) it also tells us how far we still have to go.
We're so fortunate to even be able to buy a book like this just like any other, which I don't know if people who grow up in more liberated places realize--I'm from a state that still has to sell their toys as noveltie
Suzanne Ondrus
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Woah, I had no idea Cleveland, Ohio had been home to the largest porn distributor. I learned much about my own town as well as the history of the suppression of women's sexual pleasure. This book present a personal side to the historical aspect of sex toys. I learned at least one dildo company was founded by a parapelygic man and got its start with handicapped people. The book also covered women's liberation though sex toys as well as through a famous sexual pleasure education artist. This book ...more
Dynah Thirst
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. This book is not a history of the sex toy - it is a history of the development of dildos and vibrators in the United States, what the developers were doing before they got into the sex toy business, and the many obstacles they had to overcome. I was looking forward to a history of the sex toy - what was used in India in the 1800s; what did Brits use to get off in Victorian England; did geisha (I know, I know - geishas aren’t prostitutes but one can imagine that it may have came up ...more
Brittany Craig
Buzz is narrative style while maintaining high standards as a history book. The worst is when history books get too fluffy and lose sight of their mission to disseminate accurate information. Lieberman found some excellent source material and conducted interviews I'd die to sit in on. This is a great history book to give to either a snobby historian or someone who has never studied history and is only looking for entertainment.
3.5 stars...

Really good and interesting book. This is really a story of human rights viewed through the lens of the sex toy. I had originally tagged this book as "humor" which I assumed it was. But after fifty pages or so I realized this was something completely different.

Very thought provoking and eye opening.
Nerdycellist D
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trufax
While this book started out as a dissertation (and has the end notes and citations to prove it) it's a great read. The book concerns itself mostly with the history of vibrators and other "marital aids" in the US, delving into not only the ridiculous government standards that kept so many in the dark for so long, but also into societal changes, 2nd wave feminism, disabled rights, and racketeering.
Eric Jackson
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are a few parts where the story drags a bit, but the history of sex toys is a fascinating tele-novela-like tale with family rivalries, mobsters, militant industrial feminist, sex educators, legal dramas, pop cultural histories, paraplegic silicone artists and oh so much more. If you like history, sex or just reading about interesting people, read Buzzed!
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Lieberman obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2014, with a dissertation on Sex Toy History. Her writing has been published in Bitch, Bust, Eater, The Forward, and Inside Higher Ed, among others. She has given talks at many university events and conferences. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.