28 February 2007

I joined a book club! And a website.

I haven't belonged to a book club since I was in high school, and that was a right irregular outfit driven more by the snacks our faculty sponsor brought to morning meetings than by actual books. So one of the first things I did when I moved is sign up for a book group through a networking site I visit a lot.

The book they picked (and had free copies of, luckily) was Grant Stoddard's WORKING STIFF: THE MISADVENTURES OF AN ACCIDENTAL SEXPERT. Stoddard is a British guy who moved to the US for love and fell into a customer service job at the highbrow sex magazine Nerve.com, where he was forced to try all kinds of crazy things for his column "I Did It For Science." (To give a relatively innocuous example, for one column he flew to southern California, interviewed porn stars and had a walk-on role in a porn movie.) The whole book is laced with Stoddard's dry humor and his disbelief at being regarded as a sex guru just because he was willing to try almost anything for his editor, and only much later thought, "I'm developing a bit of a reputation, aren't I?" If I ever meet him, I would like to ask him whether, in fact, there was anything he would not do for science.

Maybe it was just my imagination, but when I was reading this on the subway yesterday I felt rather more disapproving glances than usual. Okay, the title is kind of a dirty joke, but the cover isn't inappropriate to carry around... right? It's not a book for kids, surely, but it's not as if there are pictures (although Stoddard is bare-chested on the back cover... horrors!) Maybe they were just staring at me alternately cringing and laughing with each new scrape Stoddard got himself into. I don't think I've ever felt the urge to censor my reading on public transit before. Then again, it's not every day an "accidental sexpert" writes a memoir.

I'm passing it along via BookMooch, something I finally signed up for after hearing on blogs like A Work In Progress about this never-ending parade of free books. Of course, I don't have much to be mooched at the moment, after the big pre-move weed-out, but I've now given away two books and have one on its way. I tried Paperback Swap and found it a little dictatorial (what with the, "Send it in 24 hours or we'll cancel it and slap you on the wrist" policy); BookMooch looks much more realistic for those of us who don't want to go to the post office every day.

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