I am pretty undisciplined when it comes to reading. I usually have seven or more books on the go at any one time, read on the loo, on the bus, while stirring porridge, often just a page or two at a time, before I put the book down and move on to something else. I do plenty of reading but seem to take ages to finish individual books. It is not unusual for a book for a book to lie untouched for several weeks and, when I pick it up to resume reading, I find I have lost the thread.
For this reason, I am great joiner of book clubs. I regularly attend the Birmingham Feminists Book Club and have read some wonderful books by the likes of Sarah Waters, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter. Book clubs make you read to a deadline and think about what you are reading so that you can contribute to the discussion. In short, it gives you discipline.
Strange as it may seem, I don’t read nearly as much smut as I ought to. So I thought that the Sexy Summer Book Club might be an opportunity. We began with the sexual reminiscences and reflections of Girl on the Net. Now I have known GoTN for a few years, having originally met her at Eroticon. I got to chat to her quite a bit as we were often to be found outside the building with the smoking crew. And bonding over a cigarette is a great way to bond, at least with people you are probably never going to go to bed with.
But I had never read very much of her writing. Partly this is because I don’t read a lot of blogs and things online. After a day in the office mired in Excel spreadsheets I just don’t like spending much time reading from screens in the evening. Book Club seemed like a good opportunity to make good the omission.
And I totally loved How a Bad Girl Falls in Love. The GoTN who came off the page was the same GoTN I love smoking and drinking with. Witty and clever, with a sharp eye for the detail or observation that saves five hundred words, forthright in her opinions, a big personality.
Yet there is more here than opinion, humorous asides and fab sex (although there is plenty of all those). She also writes about her struggles with anxiety and low self-esteem and this, too, is something I can relate to. I sometimes think it goes with the territory for those of us who became aware, possibly at a young age, that we were different in terms of our sexuality. The journey away from shame and self-loathing towards an acceptance of who you are and the confidence to simply be yourself is a long one. And even when you find soul mates, in the kink scene or the sex blogging community, for example, the black clouds never quite leave you. Maybe life would be untroubled if all my sex was vanilla, if I didn’t know what a spreader bar was or a dildo?
But ultimately we are who we are. And in my darkest moments I know that they are people lime GoTN who will get me, will not judge, will give me love. Which I will reciprocate. Because that is one of the great things to come out of the book for me, the realisation that GoTN is not just a companion in nicotine and cider, but, in all her complexity, a soul mate.
I also understand where she is coming from sexually and why she likes the particular pieces of writing of mine that she does. And some of the writing in this book is hot. I read the book in the gym and had to interrupt my workout on one occasion to go to the Ladies and play with myself. And that, dear reader is the acid test, isn’t it?