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Michael Szczerban named VP, Editorial Director of New Imprint at Little, Brown and Company

New York, NYOctober 24, 2018

Reagan Arthur, SVP and Publisher of Little, Brown and Company, announced today that Michael Szczerban has been named VP, Editorial Director of a new imprint dedicated to illustrated books. The imprint, yet to be named, will launch in Fall 2019 and will grow to publish 20 to 25 titles a year.

“Since he arrived at Little, Brown, Mike has been a bold and creative presence, acquiring, editing, and producing spectacular, bestselling books across a diverse range of subjects. I’m thrilled to see him expand his reach with this exciting new imprint,” Arthur said.

The mission of the new imprint is to publish distinctive, bestselling illustrated books of the highest quality that entertain, inform, and inspire—while expanding the possibilities of visually-driven nonfiction and connecting readers to their passions.

The authors and creators the imprint will publish bring expertise, vision, and voice to their work. They are artists, entrepreneurs, cooks, photographers, tastemakers, thought leaders, scientists, storytellers, historians, humorists, and more—and they will continue a tradition of excellence in illustrated publishing at Little, Brown.

Many of Little, Brown’s best-loved and best-selling books have been illustrated titles. From its groundbreaking forty-year partnership with the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust to last year’s blockbuster bestseller by Pete Souza, OBAMA: An Intimate Portrait; from classic culinary works like THE FLAVOR BIBLE to Vivian Howard’s DEEP RUN ROOTS and Christopher Kimball’s MILK STREET; from pop culture favorites like THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF NOT GIVING A F*CK to CABIN PORN, Little, Brown has long brought beautiful, attention-getting, conversation-starting books to the widest possible audiences.

“Little, Brown is a uniquely supportive home for authors and editors, and it has been the joy of my career to bring new books to life with my extraordinary colleagues here. I am tremendously excited to embark on this adventure with them,” Szczerban said.

Szczerban was a 2017 Publishers Weekly Star Watch honoree and the 2012 recipient of the Lawrence Peel Ashmead Editorial Award. His books have been #1 New York Times bestsellers and their honors include awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

In addition to Szczerban, Associate Editor Nicky Guerreiro will join the imprint full time, and new hires will include a dedicated marketer.

***

About Little, Brown and Company:

Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Founded in 1837, Little, Brown has long been recognized as a publisher committed to publishing fiction of the highest quality and nonfiction of lasting significance. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Grand Central Publishing; Perseus Books; Orbit; Hachette Books; Hachette Nashville; and Hachette Audio. For more information, visit hachettebookgroup.com.

Little, Brown and Company to Publish THE REUNION by France’s #1 Bestselling Author, Guillaume Musso

Weidenfeld & Nicolson will publish alongside Little, Brown and Company for a Hachette global publishing event 

New York, NYOctober 10, 2018

Reagan Arthur, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Little, Brown and Company, announced today the upcoming publication of THE REUNION, by France’s #1 bestselling author, Guillaume Musso. Asya Muchnick, VP, Executive Editor, at Little, Brown & Company, acquired North American Rights, while Federico Andornino, Commissioning Editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights; both deals were struck with Musso’s French publisher Calmann-Lévy. The book is slated for publication on July 7, 2019. It will be available in hardcover and eBook, and in an audio edition by Hachette Audio. Calmann-Lévy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (part of the Orion Publishing Group), and Little, Brown & Company are all part of the Hachette Livre worldwide group.

Guillaume Musso has long been France’s #1 bestselling author, and the French edition of THE REUNION has sold over half a million copies since its publication earlier this year. It was the first novel by Musso to be published by Calmann-Lévy. This September, France Télévisions announced that it will broadcast the novel as a six-part miniseries, with Sydney Gallonde attached as producer. Other international broadcasters will be announced soon.

The book—pitched as being in the vein of Joël Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair and Harlan Coben’s Tell No One—is set on the French Riviera and takes place during a high school reunion, as dark secrets and past crimes are revealed.

 

French Riviera, winter 1992

On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed in a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with her philosophy teacher, with whom she’s been having a secret affair.

No one will ever see her again.

French Riviera, spring 2017

Formerly inseparable, Fanny, Thomas, and Maxime—Vinca’s best friends—have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive a notice from their old school detailing plans for a new gymnasium and inviting them to a class reunion, they know they must go back one more time. Because there is a body buried in that building. And they’re the ones who put it there.

 

Guillaume Musso says: “I had been thinking about writing a novel revolving around a school reunion for a very long time. Bringing people who have shared the most intense years of their lives back together constitutes, in my opinion, a reservoir of exciting and potentially explosive situations. After all, reconnecting with friends you lost touch with long ago is an opportunity to take stock of your life, to compare your adult existence with the dreams you had back then, at an age when emotions were heightened with feelings of jealousy, euphoria, and love ‘until death do us part.’ THE REUNION is a pursuit and exploration of the most intimate aspects of the protagonists’ secret lives, as each of them has been running from something for as long as they can remember.”

Federico Andornino, Weidenfeld & Nicolson commissioning editor: “Guillaume Musso is a writer who knows exactly how to keep the reader glued to the page: THE REUNION is 50 percent thriller, 50 percent study of teenage obsession—and 100 percent compulsive reading. When our friends at Calmann-Lévy first approached us to be one of Guillaume’s new English-language publishers, we quite simply just had to say yes. I am thrilled to share this publication with our wider Hachette global family.”

Reagan Arthur, Little, Brown and Company Publisher and SVP: “It’s no wonder that Guillaume Musso’s novels have sold millions of copies. He has a gift for propulsive, thrilling storytelling, and THE REUNION offers us the perfect opportunity to introduce him to North American readers.”

Philippe Robinet, Calmann-Lévy CEO: “Guillaume Musso has been an internationally bestselling author, beloved by readers in countries around the world, for many years: his new novel is currently being translated across all continents and has hit the bestseller list in every territory where it has been published. I am now particularly thrilled that, thanks to our Hachette friends in the UK and US, THE REUNION is going to reach English-speaking readers as well.”

Guillaume Musso’s novels have been translated into forty languages and have become international bestsellers around the world. He was born in 1974 in Antibes, the setting for THE REUNION.

About Little, Brown and Company:
Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Founded in 1837, Little, Brown has long been recognized as a publisher committed to publishing fiction of the highest quality and nonfiction of lasting significance. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Grand Central Publishing; Perseus Books; Orbit; Hachette Books; Hachette Nashville; and Hachette Audio. For more information, visit hbgusa.com.

VICTIM WHO?

If you’re a sexually curious woman, along with being called a slut, another unfortunate refrain is: “Are you sure you want to do that?” Some of my greatest hits include: Are you sure you want to fuck that married couple? Are you sure you want to go to that sex party? Are you sure you want to be suspended upside down from the ceiling by a guy with a low-hanging man bun? Are you sure you want to pee into that lawyer’s mouth for $200? The implication, of course, always being: because you might not like it! But it’s like…okay, so what?

As women, we’re led to believe that a negative sexual experience can be devastating—that if some asshole crosses one of our sexual boundaries, or if we leave the orgy feeling fat and uncomfortable instead of enlightened, that we might never recover. But why do women always have to be the “victims” of sex? Why is it that in nearly every area of our lives we are encouraged to take risks and try new things—to Lean In and play hard—but when it comes to sex, we’re like, “Be safe or you’ll end up traumatized or dead”? These doomsday ideas become self-fulfilling prophecies, cultivating a type of sexual fragility that I don’t think is healthy.

It’s true that sex can be high-risk. Things go wrong. People get hurt. But just because I had a bad sexual experience doesn’t mean that I’m broken. It means I know to avoid that thing going forward. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that it turned out I didn’t like—like that time, for instance, when I let my boyfriend tie me to a dresser while I watched him have sex with my best friend. Unsurprisingly, it was literally awful, but now at least I can say I’ve done it? The point is, there are far worse things in life  than bad sex (like a hangover, for example).

Of course, sexual assault is real, and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. But assault is separate from the concept of victimhood. Feeling like a victim is a subjective headspace. Think about it this way: Men are taught that there is no such thing as a negative sexual experience.

From a young age, boys are essentially taught: All sex is good sex; take what you can get; even a bad low job is a good blow job. Pretty much the only quasi-negative sexual experience that you ever see a man have in a movie is the trope of a guy being tricked into sex with a fat or ugly woman—which, of course, is never traumatic for him, but rather a comical encounter that provides fodder for banter with his friends the next morning. But when a woman is coerced into sex, she spends the rest of the movie crying in the shower and developing a cheesy nineties-throwback self-harm habit.

It’s no secret that female sexuality has long been policed. But today we’ve created an environment where (allegedly predatory) male sexuality needs to be policed, and (allegedly passive) female sexuality needs to be protected—which seems equally tragic to me. At the heart of the victim narrative is a familiar and unfortunate premise: the idea that, by having sex, men are getting something, whereas women are giving something up. It’s outdated, it’s offensive, and it’s psychologically destructive for women, because it has the power to mislead girls into thinking that having one not-ideal sexual experience means that they have lost a part of themselves. Hello—pitying and victimizing women doesn’t help us; it just dismisses the importance of female sexual agency.

Back in the mid-1960s, universities set curfews for their female students, whereas men were allowed to stay out as late as they pleased. It was then that a faction of the feminist movement, in part lead by Camille Paglia—the controversial feminist, academic, and writer, who back then was a college student—fought to gain the same freedoms that men had. They rejected the need for special protections, instead wanting autonomy over their private lives. They said: “Give us the freedom to risk rape.” Of course, that sounds jarring. But the point they were making is relevant still: We would rather be free in the world and accept whatever risk comes along with that than be trapped inside, endlessly braiding each other’s hair like passive Rapunzels.

In our postwoke social-justice Millennial whatever, there is no excuse for men to not have a thorough understanding of the nuances of consent. Today more than ever we should hold men accountable for their actions, and to a high sexual standard. But as women, we infantilize ourselves when we don’t take responsibility for our own actions in the bedroom. We have to be able to assess the difference between assault and discomfort. Of course, I’m not saying that if you’re a legitimate victim of sexual abuse you should just “get over it.” (It feels relevant to note that, often, people who are sexually abused call themselves “survivors” rather than “victims,” in an effort to move away from the idea of the passive female victim who’s there for the taking.) But we decide what moments in our lives we give power to. We write our own stories. We can decide to define ourselves by our worst experiences—to become victims rather than survivors—or instead, after something bad happens, we can learn from it and move forward. Because realistically, being a fragile victim is just not on-brand for the modern slut.

If I want to reap the benefits of slutdom, I have to have a thick skin. If I want sexual freedom, I have to be able to say no. Slut power is about freedom, but it’s also about taking responsibility. The world is not a safe space. There is no such thing as safe sex. We are not victims, we are predators.

 


 

 

 

 

MOAN: ANONYMOUS ESSAYS ON FEMALE ORGASM

Foreplay

Before I ever had my first kiss, I went to second base. Well, kind of. The tamest possible version of second base. I was twelve years old; pre–bat mitzvah but post–crossing the threshold of menstruation and leg shaving. It was a time when I was strangely confident. Of course, I wasn’t immune to insecurities. I mean, I was one of the tallest girls in my grade, I had the hair of Michael J. Fox—as Teen Wolf—and a mustache. (All of this is still true except for my height—this was about the time I stopped growing.) And I’d experienced my fair share of mean girls, unrequited crushes, cruel teasing, embarrassing AOL conversations, being the least athletic person in the history of sports, continually telling my parents and believing that “Today is the worst day of my life!,” etc. But to be twelve, at least in the year 2000, at least for me, was to exist in this golden era before you were fully indoctrinated with society’s master plan: to make women feel bad about themselves and how they look. How else are they going to get you to spend that much on cream for cellulite?!

I was in a basement in New Jersey, watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This setting may sound like the beginning of a horror movie to you, but I promise the story doesn’t end with me waking up missing a kidney. (Or does it? Stay tuned!) Anyway, a shaggy-haired boy from Hebrew school sat next to me, and halfway through the movie, under a blanket, he began to slowly feel me up over my black sports bra from Macy’s. I can still remember how heightened it felt, even though he never actually touched my skin. In between each subtle movement, he would whisper, “Is this okay?” and I would nod. I was calm. I knew this person. It wasn’t moving too fast. It felt right.

He asked if he could kiss me. I said no. I wasn’t ready for that yet. Kissing seemed like it’d be more intimate and intense than someone touching a barely formed body part of mine through thick fabric, a body part I had almost no relationship with yet.

I should probably mention that there were other Hebrew school friends in the room at this time. Which made my decision to keep the experience pretty PG a lot easier. I think everyone I grew up with would say that many of their coming-of-age experiences happened around other people because you never get to be alone with someone when you’re that young. So you must eschew modesty and make do!

I emerged from the basement feeling confused about certain plot points in Rocky Horror and conflicted about my over-the-sports-bra experience. I thought I had liked what was happening. It was exciting and fun to be touched in this way. And yet, it felt fairly ordinary—like things had unfolded exactly as they were supposed to. But I had no emotional or physical reference point for sexual experiences. So while it was easy to feel good during it, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel after it. When my mom picked me up that night, my face was red. It was as if my whole body was broadcasting that someone touched my boobs. Or “boobs.” All of a sudden, I went from feeling in control of my destiny to feeling really guilty and uncomfortable.

I knew, even at twelve, that women are made to feel unnecessarily ashamed about sexual behavior. And I’d just had my first taste of that shame. I had to keep reminding myself I’d done nothing wrong. That night was a turning point for me. I decided that moving forward, I never, ever wanted to feel the slightest bit bad for wanting something so natural and normal. I declared myself a “sexual warrior.”

 

SOFTER

“We have all been made to feel powerless or weak in sexual circumstances. Let’s commit to not perpetuating that.”

I am a twenty-seven-year-old, white, cisgender, femme, queer (but often passing as or assumed to be straight), able-bodied, formerly fat, bighearted, California-grown human-ass being. And I am a survivor of many forms of sexual assault. That’s a truth that I’ve been working with more and more and I’m proud as shit to say I am healing all the parts of me that were hurt, shamed, and hiding, and I am now loving all the parts of me. And I’ve been doing whatever else I felt I needed to do to move forward and not have those wounds define me.

One effect of all this is I’m no longer interested in casual sex. It turns out that “casual sex” was almost never actually about my pleasure. And I only realize now how dangerous and impossible it would be for me; for my safety and wellbeing. So you, who may be my lover, you should know that I am not a casual lay. I am not a no-strings-attached, easy, whatever you may wish, Pussy to stick your prick in. Nope!

And as I write this, I need to make it known that I am not only turned on by people who are grown-ass Men, but I am also turned on—incredibly so—by women and those who do not identify as just one of these two genders.

Having said that, I do feel that women and other people who hold a good amount of feminine wisdom do not need the same kind of information I am presenting here. So though I personally embody a sensual, sexual, feminine spirit that LOVES, adores, and grows relationships with people of all gender expressions, this very serious and very lighthearted talking-to is directed at dear ones who identify as Men.

So, as I was saying—I need to, like, get to know you for some stretch of time before we get to dick-in-my-holes fun. You know, so it might actually be fun for both of us. That’s the reality that I’m operating within. One in which we are adults, so we get to choose!

If you want to get close to me, that’s great and beautiful and yes, I actually am really interested in getting to know wonderful people, intimately even, but it may be a long while before we get super intimate physically. Or it may not be so long, I don’t know! There will probably be long conversations, though, before any sex acts. We’ll have to talk and listen and be honest and vulnerable with each other, please. Otherwise no pussy magic fun for you.

Along the way there will probably be sweet make-out sessions, delightful building-of-companionship sensations, and maybe massages, tickle attacks, and/or hand-holding! So that’s exciting. (It is pretty exciting for me . . . )

So can I explode the myth that you need to “make me” come? Yeah, nope. Sorry, I don’t get down with that phrase. For me, “coming” is not anything that sounds like another person controlling my body or taking the reins and deciding  When and How. It’s a co-creative process! I’d like to release some of that pressure, for both our sakes.

I can “make” myself come anytime I want. But being with a partner is not just about getting to the “coming.” The orgasm moment is not the Goal. Got that? I reiterate: One Orgasm does not equal One Finish Line. Did your brain explode a little?

Climaxes (multiple!), physical release, and bliss will indeed happen, if we allow ourselves to go there together. And personally, I need to feel comfortable to play with my partner and luxuriate in the eternal moments that swirl around those climaxes. There will have to be power dynamics, shifts, and one of us leading and one of us following, and switching it up and doing what feels right. Sometimes that may feel like compromise because this is a true collaboration, and it may even feel like you (my partner) are giving up some of your power and control to me. At this time in the story of the world, I say that’s probably a good thing to do more often. We can both let go, and also consciously allow me to voice my choice more of the time. Join me in smashing the patriarchy. Even within our bedroom endeavors.

Most women have been hurt and abused in some way in intimate spaces, so try to bring that into your awareness before entering into sexual intimacy with me, or with any other person. We have all been made to feel powerless or weak in sexual circumstances. Let’s commit to not perpetuating that.

A LITTLE TO THE LEFT

“I had HEARD about this clit thing, but I was like, no way, I don’t have that, or if I do it’s definitely broken.”

 

How I learned to orgasm

 

I’m turning twenty-nine in four days.

I’ve had sex with ten people.

Only one has made me orgasm.

 

The first guy I was with in my freshman dorm room couldn’t hide his bafflement when I didn’t “make noise” during sex.

And I was like, “Are you supposed to make noise?”

He said, “I don’t know, I guess so?”

So, like any good student, I tried it. And making noise WAS a good way to get someone to care about what I was feeling . . . and I actually used it to get most guys to think that they were achieving something. I convinced a lot of people that I was feeling things I wasn’t, and I went through this chunk of my life not understanding my body enough to know that orgasm was a possibility for me. I thought I was one of those girls who just couldn’t do it. But eventually I watched enough TV and overheard enough conversation to catch on to the fact that I was stuck under a rock . . .

I come from a small town in New England—where you don’t learn about sex or talk about sex and by default you know nothing about sex. And when I moved to New York City, I was so overloaded with every type of sensory stimulus that my brain kind of exploded. And by sophomore year, and my fourth sexual partner, I knew that I hadn’t experienced sex the right way. I heard somewhere that every woman should learn as much as she possibly can about her body before she lets someone else all up in there. Good point. So I grabbed one of those mirrors that come with the blush at CVS, and one afternoon when my roommate was out, I took a long, taxing look at my vagina. I touched it, trying to find my clit, because I had HEARD about this clit thing, but I was like, no way, I don’t have that, or if I do it’s definitely broken. But what ended up happening is that I taught myself everything no one was going to teach me. And after I found my clit (holy shit) I waltzed into this beautiful sex toy shop called Babeland and I bought myself the most generic-looking and-operating dildo and I practiced how to orgasm from the inside (holy shit). And when it ran out of C batteries, I replaced them. I was basically keeping the bodega in business with my battery purchases alone. And I practiced until I got so good and so orgasmy that I began to notice some other really important issues I had with sex. Mainly this issue of confidence. Because when you’re lying in bed alone, fondling your newly discovered vagina, rather than lying in bed with a partner, EVERYTHING CHANGES. Fuck.

So it turns out that just because I discovered enough about my body to achieve orgasm while seated over the engine on a bus listening to Justin Timberlake, it didn’t mean that I knew how to let someone else discover that. So I decided, as I do with many things in my life, to become the BEST at giving sex. I was overcompensating for my lack of sexual self-confidence with this Kanye-inspired “I’m a sex god” mentality. I didn’t know that being good at sex didn’t mean pleasuring your partner to the ends of the earth. It actually meant being pleasured too, and I felt miserable that I couldn’t do that because of NERVES. The epically insecure corners of my soul didn’t let new guys see me naked, and they couldn’t make me orgasm no matter how hard I, or they, tried. And I spent many a night consoling guys who felt bad that they came so early, while being secretly ecstatic that the encounter was over.

Then one night—as this story ends with one single orgasm—someone decided that if I wasn’t turned on, he wasn’t turned on. And that exploded my brain yet again. And as I’m still picking up the pieces from the cracks in the floor, I can tell you that the best sexual experiences I’ve had happened when I was guided into pleasure and made to feel comfortable by someone not stopping until he figured out what worked for me.


 

 

 

 

ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT

GP first turned us on to sex guru Laura Corn’s book 101 Nights of Great Sex, which comes with sealed envelopes containing instructions for seductions to try out on your partner. When you’re deep into it with someone else, swapping sexual acts back and forth, the anticipation and the mystery of what suggestion the other will pull are hot in and of themselves. (If you’re tech-inclined, here’s also an app version of the book.) We reconnected with Corn, who is a big proponent of getting out of your comfort zone, for her take on how to know what you want and ask for it. Plus, we polled goop HQ to see the different ways staffers go about communicating desires to their partners.

 

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

LAURA CORN

 

How do we tap into our true wants and desires?

They say love is letting go of fear, but I think that also applies to great sex. If you’re not tapping into your true sexual wants and desires, that means your insecurities or fears are somehow blocking you. (Otherwise, you would be going for it.) The best advice I can give is to tackle these fears one at a time.

First, write down your sexual desires—aim for at least five, perhaps as many as ten. Creating a list will help you come up with your game plan. Take those unfilled desires and rearrange them in an order from the easiest to achieve to the most challenging. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to be blindfolded, spanked with a beautiful leather whip, or experience a threesome with another woman. Which seems the easiest to do? Start there and work your way down your list. It can be that simple—you’ll become more confident with each step, and I guarantee that your sex life will get hotter and hotter. In the end, your fears will be a thing of the past.

 

What’s the key to getting to know our own bodies better?

There’s only one way to get to know your body better and that’s through experimentation. Experimentation through self-pleasuring and trying new things with your partner (if you have one) are both important—and fun! It’s a lifelong experiment of self- love, and what’s exciting is that where you’ll be in ten years will be completely different from where you are now.

Here’s a quick story about how I learned to love my body: Up until my thirties, there was only one way I could have an orgasm, which was on my stomach. I would rock back and forth, grinding my hips into the bedsheets. I learned this technique at a very young age and never experimented with anything else. It did not serve me well. When I had sex with a partner, I was clueless, embarrassed, and fearful. I thought there was something wrong with me—I would never orgasm with a man inside me—and I couldn’t reveal my secret, because that would be horrifying. This led to one failed relationship after another until I felt completely inadequate. I knew there must be a better way, and I desperately wanted to be in a healthy sexual relationship.

I eventually fell in love and wanted to be more sexually attuned with my body. I started reading books—a lot of sex how‑to books (like My Secret Garden, Women on Top, The Hite Report, Kinsey Reports, and The Joy of Sex)—that opened up a whole new world to me. The more I read, the more comfortable and adventurous I became in bed. In the past twenty years, I’ve gone from being insecure to completely open-minded with my lover. Experimentation gave me the confidence to get to know my body better.

 

How do you tell a partner what you want?

Here are a few tips if you are having a hard time communicating what you want:

  1. Watch an adult movie together. Point out what’s hot and what’s turning you on. If he or she isn’t cluing in, go further, describing exactly what turns you on. But don’t feel like you have to push anything on your partner, because I guarantee they are listening—and they might even surprise you beyond what you’re imagining.
  2. If you’re a little shy, this one’s for you. Simply highlight a passage from a sex advice book or an article that describes a fantasy you’ve always wanted to try. Have your partner read it while you two are in bed (watch them blush).
  3. Want really steamy sex? Walk yourself into an adult novelty store. Choose that one (or maybe two, three, or four . . . ) toys you’ve  wanted to try but have always been a little intimated by. Gift wrap them and give them to your partner over dinner (at a restaurant if you’re feeling really bold) and watch their mind melt. You’ll have fun that night. I promise.

 

What about during sex—how do you communicate without ruining the mood?

The more you exchange ideas, the more you stimulate sexuality. Each exchange only provokes and increases curiosity—and curiosity is the seed of passion.

On a more practical note, I think the tone of your voice is the key to connecting your desires to your partner’s actions (just as it’s important out of bed, too). Keep your voice gentle and loving.

Don’t get too bogged down with giving tons of directions, though. A few sentences should be all it takes. Also, if your partner or you are not super verbal, a little physical helping hand doesn’t hurt either.


FROM THE GOOPASUTRA

ASKING FOR WHAT WE WANT IN BED

 

We polled the goop team, and their responses reflect the varying levels of confidence people have when it comes to speaking up for their desires:

  • “Confidently and sensually. Unapologetically. Sometimes with show-and-tell; whatever gets the job done. In my experience, guys are enthusiastically responsive to direction, especially when it produces physical, audible results. Let’s face it: Sexual prowess is at the core of the male ego. They’re psyched to please. So if he wants to do it right, why not show him how?”
  • “By literally asking.”
  • “I struggle with this. I’ll wait until I can’t take it anymore, and then I feel awkward bringing it up. I enjoy sex, but I feel nervous asking for what I want in the moment (or after), because I don’t want the other person to feel that they’re doing something wrong. Sometimes I have moments where I go for it and ask—if I’m comfortable with the person—and the verbal stimulation really turns me on.”
  • “If I’m in a relationship where I’m comfortable, I try to be vocal about it. If it’s a new situation, I suck it up, or gently make suggestions in bed.”
  • “It took me some time to learn to do this. It became much easier once I was with someone I really cared about and trusted.”
  • “I straight‑up tell them.”
  • “Very honestly. And particularly during sex.”
  • “Awkwardly make a joke out of it.”
  • “I think the best time is right after sex, when you’re still lying in bed. You can kind of recap, saying, ‘I liked that, do more of that’; or ‘That wasn’t working for me.’ The information is fresh in your mind, but since the actual moment has passed, it takes some of the pressure off.”
  • “Moan more when something feels good. Go radio silent when something doesn’t feel great.”
  • “I like to get started and see how things go. If I’m not being fully satisfied, I move his hand (or whatever we’re using) to a better spot. If that doesn’t work, I say what I want him to do.”
  • “I plant seeds that can blossom later. I’ll ask for an expansion of the usual repertoire in a playful, encouraging way, but not in the heat of the moment.”
  • “Have an honest conversation about likes/dislikes, then experiment with other things from there. My boyfriend is more of the leader, so I follow along and then discuss afterward whether it was my cup of tea.”

What benefit, if any, is there in going out of our comfort zone?

There’s zero benefit in staying within your comfort zone. What are you learning? How are you keeping the spark alive? I certainly can’t imagine a lifetime of comfortable sex without more variety, more foreplay, more surprises, more seduction.

Out of the thousands of couples I have spoken to, their biggest complaint is routine sex (i.e., missionary). Easy, but not that exciting.

We all are hardwired to want something new, something fresh. Pure and simple novelty is the key to great sex.

Couples in long-term, fulfilling relationships consistently go outside their comfort zones. Whether it’s doing something naughty in public, role-playing, or introducing your partner to a new toy—venturing outside the comfort zone is what elevates sex from the mundane to the magnificent.

But is it all about sex? No. Get out, do something new, have adventures.

Ride a roller coaster, jump out of a plane together—just make some new memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT CONSENT I LEARNED FROM ROMANCE NOVELS

I am a romance novelist, which is a weird job. I dread the “what do you do?” moment at cocktail parties, because after I answer, people say the most astonishing things (and not usually good-astonishing). I get wink-winked, nudge-nudged about my “research methods” (to which I respond by saying if I wrote murder mysteries no one would think I had a bunch of dead bodies in my basement). Fifty Shades of Grey is frequently invoked.

People who mean to be kind use the phrase guilty pleasures. (Why feel guilty about something that brings you pleasure? I usually ask.)

People who don’t mean to be kind use the phrase bodice rippers.

Right.

Except nobody actually rips bodices in modern romance novels.

In fact, modern romance novels are models of consent. If you haven’t read one in the last couple of decades, this probably comes as a surprise. But I’m here to tell you that everything I learned about healthy, enthusiastic, sexy (yes, sexy!) consent, I learned from romance novels.

I’ll say more about that, but first consider another question I often get, and this one actually interests me: Are romance novels realistic?

Yes and no. Romance novels, like rom-com movies, are driven by tropes, which are time-honored set-ups or situations that propel a story. Think: enemies to lovers (You’ve Got Mail), people pretending to be in relationships for one reason or another (The Proposal).

And in that sense, no, romance novels aren’t “realistic.” I mean, you’re not that likely to run into a grumpy billionaire with a secret heart of gold who needs you to pretend to be his fiancée to close an important business deal.

But all of that stuff, the way a story gets told, is just a tool that lets us get at deeper truths. And in romance, the big truth is that everyone is deserving of love and respect. That’s the baseline assumption from which a romance novel starts, and the story is about how these particular characters in these particular circumstances get there.

Are romance novels realistic? I think that’s the wrong question. Romance novels are aspirational. They show us what is possible, both in what we demand from potential partners and in how we, as a society, expect people to conduct themselves.

A huge part of that is consent. In my books, consent is present, it is enthusiastic, and it is sexy. I am not a special unicorn. This is standard in mainstream romance novels today. This doesn’t mean you will read about people who stop in their tracks just as things are getting fun. They will not turn into robots who have paused to perform this chore of seeking consent. To the contrary, the seeking and giving of consent can be hot, hot, hot. It can be implicit: a pause, a questioning look, the withdrawal of a pleasurable sensation so one’s partner has to make a point to get it back. It can be explicit, too (hello, dirty talk!).

Is this realistic? Sadly, no. But I don’t care. “Realistic” is not my goal here. Ideal is my goal. I read romance novels because I want to see people getting the love and sex they want (I note that those two things don’t have to come as a package deal if you don’t want them to) without having to make any compromises. The key to that is respect. And the manifestation of respect is consent. Consent is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be a chore, a box to check. It can be so much fun.

I learned that from romance novels, my friends.

If you’re new to romance, here are a few recommended reads!

  • Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid. This whole series, about a zany bunch of brothers in a Quirky-with-a-Capital Q small town, is a delight, but this one contains one of my favorite romance tropes: the famous movie star who comes to town and gets tangled up with a local. In this case, it’s a grumpy park ranger who keeps having to rescue Miss Hollywood, who is not known for her stellar sense of direction.
  • The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan. Milan is a master of writing consent in both her historical and contemporary romances. This tale of a countess who’s secretly a scientist and her charming rake of a friend who provides cover for her, is set in Regency England. Think Jane Austen, but spicier—and sciencey-er.
  • How to Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall. This book is part satire, part homage to Fifty Shades of Grey, except it features two heroes (there are romance novels all along the LGBTQ spectrum), and the original’s questionable treatment of consent is nowhere to be found. Beautifully written, it somehow manages to be funny and gutting in equal measure.

Jenny Holiday is a USA Today bestselling author who started writing at age nine when her awesome fourth-grade teacher gave her a notebook and told her to start writing some stories. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her family and is the author of the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series (Grand Central/Forever). For more on Jenny and her books, please visit www.jennyholiday.com.

 

 

 

 

Little, Brown and Company to Publish GOODNIGHT TRUMP by Erich Origen & Gan Golan in November 2018

An Irreverent, Hilarious Parody of the Children’s Classic About a World of Harmony and Order, Putting to Bed America’s Most Yugely Bad President Ever, by the Duo Behind the New York Times Bestseller Goodnight Bush

 

In the very classy room

There was a golden mirror

And a silver spoon

And a broadcast of—

Alternative facts from a Fox newsroom . . .

 

 

New York, NYAugust 21, 2018

Reagan Arthur, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Little, Brown and Company, announced today the upcoming publication of GOODNIGHT TRUMP: A Parody, by Erich Origen and Gan Golan. Michael Szczerban, Executive Editor of Little, Brown and Company, acquired World rights from William Clark, of William Clark Associates. The book is slated for publication November 13, 2018.

Parodying the soothing incantations of the perennial children’s classic Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd, GOODNIGHT TRUMP takes place in the very classy golden bedroom of the White House, where it’s bedtime for the 45th President of the United States. In Origen and Golan’s update to the timeless classic, readers can encourage this very stable genius to bid a gentle goodnight to some of his favorite things, including his stuffed animal (what else but a Playboy bunny), his best friends from Russia, his Twitter feed, and his 12-pack of Diet Coke.

Goodnight Bush, Origen and Golan’s inventive send-off of the Bush administration, became an instant bestseller. Time called it “hilarious, clever, very relevant, remarkably insightful, and thought-provoking,”Salon described it as “ingeniously illustrated and garnished with trenchant social commentary,” and USA Today praised the authors for their “laugh-out-loud yet sophisticated wit.”

Not even at the halfway-point of his administration, Donald Trump has managed to provoke the ire, frustration, and heartache of millions of Americans who feel that he is reversing the progress of the Obama administration and destabilizing the nation. Origen and Golan channel this widespread feeling of unrest into the comic relief of GOODNIGHT TRUMP, where readers have the chance to send their very bad president to bed and children everywhere can have sweet dreams without fear of being torn from their homes and families.

GOODNIGHT TRUMP is a perfect present for those who lean to the left, and for anyone who dreams of the chance to turn out the light on the Trump presidency a little early. 

About the authors:
Erich Origen and Gan Golan are New York Times bestselling authors whose hilarious and poignant books include Goodnight Bush, The Adventures of Unemployed Man—published as Les aventures d’Ultra-Chômeur in France, in both standard and special editions—and Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus!

About Little, Brown and Company:
Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Founded in 1837, Little, Brown has long been recognized as a publisher committed to publishing fiction of the highest quality and nonfiction of lasting significance. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Grand Central Publishing; Perseus Books; Orbit; Hachette Books; Hachette Nashville; and Hachette Audio. For more information, visit hbgusa.com.

FAMILY SEPARATION IS WRONG: WHETHER IT’S AT THE BORDER OR IN OUR BACKYARDS

 

It is safe to wager that just about every parent in the United States, regardless of their political affiliation, has taken a moment in the past few months to think about the process of separating 2,634 children from their parents and loved ones in the name of discouraging illegal immigration.

Some would argue that it is a necessary deterrent, a reasonable response to our broken immigration system. They might say that these families have put the wellbeing of their children at risk because they knowingly embarked on these potentially lethal journeys from their homelands, only to live in the shadows of our society.

Others see it as families taking a journey from religious persecution and violence, a path long ago forged by the founders of this nation. These immigrants came, families united, to seek a new life, free from strife and danger and open for untold opportunities.

Unfortunately, the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty have tarnished, to be all but invisible to today’s immigrants.

But the separation that these new immigrants faced is something the immigrants of old never did.  Their families arrived intact, and the children were able to maintain the necessary presence with their parents to grow into productive contributors to our society.  Today’s immigrants, regardless of the journey they take to get here, are the recipients of an ill-conceived policy that has the potential of creating a generation of children who will suffer its aftershock and damage the character of our citizens and country.

Lack of thought and care has been the profound moral failing from the start. As the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post recently reported, the Administration had no plan in place to undo the harm of the “zero tolerance” policy of family separation. In the absence of a system to reunify families, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security had to invent a new category to track these children and their parents and caregivers. They called this new category “deleted families.”

Families, in other words, that these agencies intentionally deleted and had no intention of bringing back together again. Imagine the trauma these children must be experiencing. Imagine if these were your children or grandchildren.

Maybe we should start making sense again about children and families who seek a new life in the United States.

Let’s start with acknowledging that no experience is more central to American history than a mother and a father with a child fleeing persecution and poverty in one place to find opportunity and hope in another.

Immigration — legal, enforced, or unauthorized — is an experience that has defined most of us for the past 20,000 years. To deny that is to deny our own family values, which are what truly makes America great.

We can continue by affirming that fear is not a deterrent but an accelerant to social disorder. The child with a broken connection with the parent is a child we may have to fear later. We might think just a little bit ahead and ask ourselves what kind of faith and confidence will those 2,634  children have years from now in the institutions that abandoned them?

We can ask virtually the same thing of the millions of U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 who live with an undocumented family member, and of the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. They live in perpetual turmoil and fear, and fear has never produced productive citizens, thriving families, or a prosperous nation.

Finally, we can look at how we all might help heal the damage that has been done.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and author of Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, has called out the Administration’s forcible separation of children from their families at the border. “The government’s policy deprived traumatized children of the most powerful factors to mitigate the biological damage they were experiencing: their parents.” She maintains that we should treat the toxic stress faced by immigrant children terrorized at the prospect of losing their parents and caregivers as a public health issue, with screening and follow up treatment.

Moreover, let’s start helping their parents – and all others who want a better life for their children – succeed as their children’s brain developer, first teachers and best advocate by

connecting them to services and supports they need to be good parents to vulnerable kids.

As we proceed through the fury of the immigration debate, let us remember that these are families deserving of sound public policy and the security of being together.  That’s the legacy of this nation.  Maintaining presence between a child and a parent is the most reliable ingredient in the formation of emotionally healthy and productive citizens of the world.  We can and must do better than what we are doing today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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