One of my goals this year was to read more, and I’m poised to finish about three dozen books by the end of 2016, which is a number with which I am quite happy. Few of these books are “assigned” reading a la reviews, and most of them actually aren’t about sex. I wanted to branch out into hard science and nonerotic fiction, so few of the titles on my bookshelf or Kindle were related to sex.
As you can guess, BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism doesn’t break that mold, but it does stand apart from other books that I’ve read this year.
Now, I am no stranger to BDSM books. You can check out my reviews for As Kinky as You Wanna Be, Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires, and S&M 101, among others. There are even a few in there that I forgot. BDSM: A Guide is not one that I will soon forget.
Part of this is because it’s a tome of a book. With over 600 pages, it might be the longest book I’ve read this year — or during the past several. There is a wealth of information provided by the author Ayzad.. if you’ve the time to peer between the pages. I do think this book could be intimidating to some because of its size and other reasons, which I will touch on later.
First, let me introduce you to Azad, an Italian and self-proclaimed pretentious European who wrote the first version of this book over a decade ago. Ayzad’s experience and connections have resulted in something that could be described as the ultimate BDSM textbook. If it’s not in this book, it’s either urban legend, frowned upon by conscientious kinksters or has been invented since this summer.
The original Italian book has been translated and updated for the world at large, and I was fortunate to review a copy on my Kindle. As you can imagine, a 500+ page book is one that could easily become overwhelming. I recommend the Kindle version not just for ease of searchability but also because it’s about half the price of the soft cover on Amazon and, I would imagine, a sure bit lighter!
I don’t normally comment on Kindle formatting, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism, but a lack of numbered chapters — both within the table of contents and the pages themselves — makes it a bit hard to determine where you are in the book. A bit of tweaking with the different headings would also aid this, but it’s certainly not the biggest thing that would prevent someone from picking up this book.
BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism is, well, daunting. If you read the original, want a complete BDSM library or only want to read a single book on the subject ever, then this one is for you. On the other hand, I might recommend something a bit more specific to readers who are already well-versed in BDSM but wanted to learn more about a particular niche or something more accessible for those who are new to the subject or perhaps unsure whether BDSM is for them.
Ayzad doesn’t coddle his readers, and I must admit that I agree with when he describes himself as pretentious. Initially, this was offputting, but there is no doubt that the usefulness of this book overshadows that eventually.
As a resource, BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism stands head and shoulders above other BDSM publications and certainly above most things you’ll see online (where many people are seeking answers to specific BDSM questions). I’ve written guides myself, but this book delves far deeper than typical BDSM activities and terms, introducing the reader to ideas that they never knew they wanted to try (or perhaps never realized they wanted to avoid!).
Indeed, Ayzad lists potentially dangerous activities such as choking out of due diligence, even while advising against them. He goes beyond a quick warning not to flog a person’s kidneys and provides ample advice for dealing with a scene gone wrong. In short, Ayzad emphasizes safety and consent in such a manner that shames traditional sex education for a lack thereof.
Ayzad includes a level of detail that’s not merely impressive. It’s almost magnificent. You can see this in charts, which explain to the reader just how much weight certain body parts can hold, how to care for BDSM implements of different materials, the effect of electricity on the body, and how much saline solution you can inject into various body parts. You can easily learn basic knots and how to create rope harnesses (not to mention the difference between Eastern and Western rope bondage) from the words and photos in these pages despite the fact that it’s just one element of BDSM.
BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism isn’t dry, however. Stunning photos are peppered throughout the pages; although, positioning might be a little less than ideal if you use custom font sizes on your Kindle as I do.
The photos themselves are not the only thing that will arouse a reader’s mind. If you’re into any particular kink, this book will likely have your heart beating faster when you discover the section that’s closest to your deviant heart. For me, that was reading about needles, which I found particularly inspiring. Ayzad writes in a way that I imagine could inspire creativity in most readers who have a serious interest in BDSM. I found it difficult not to imagine myself shopping in a medical supply store looking for items that could be perverted for this very purpose.
There is such a wealth of information that Ayzad frequently refers the reader to his website to learn more (you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive list of BDSM websites than in the resources section), and I often found myself performing quick searches when I would discover something new (such as what a tawse is). I must admit humility upon learning how much there was yet to know about BDSM. In fact, he tries to introduce the reader to the Internet and the role it plays in learning about BDSM and finding like-minded individuals and partners. This is a worthy cause but seems a little futile to me given how frequently the Internet changes. The best place to
This is a worthy cause but seems a little futile to me given how frequently the Internet changes. The best place to read about using the Internet is simply online. These final pages seemed rush and lacking in the detailed information found previously in the book probably because of these the ever-changing nature of the Internet.
I’ll wrap this review up because, while nowhere near the length of BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism, it’s certainly lengthy. There is little this book doesn’t touch on that falls under the umbrella of bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism. If you’re all at all familiar, some of the content may be redundant, which is why I recommend the Kindle version for ease of use.
For those people who are unsure about BDSM or need a friendlier tone, I might recommend As Kinky As You Wanna Be to pique your interest and quell any worries you have about consensual BDSM.. before eventually adding BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism to your collection if it felt lacking.