Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Aging and Sexuality: Recommended Books

In Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty, I recommended an assortment of helpful books for women and men interested in having great sex and aging vibrantly. I thought it would be useful to reprint this resource here. I’ll divide the books by category, and I’ll add new books that have crossed my path since Better Than I Ever Expected was published. Let me know about a special book you’ve enjoyed that belongs here. (Keep checking back -- this list is just the beginning!)

I’ve included links to these books on Amazon.com for your convenience and to read more customer reviews, although I encourage you to purchase from your local independent bookstore when possible.

And of course, if you don’t already have it, I hope you’ll read Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty! Order a personally autographed copy directly from the author here, or order from Amazon here.


Better Than Ever: Love and Sex at Midlife by Bernie Zilbergeld, Ph.D., (Crown, 2005). A guide to sexual enjoyment in the second half of life, including overcoming health challenges and staying sexy in long-term relationships, based on 145 interviews with men and women ages 45 to 87. This is an excellent book from the male point of view. Unfortunately, Zilbergeld died before this book could be published. We are fortunate to have his last work.

Dr. Ruth's Sex After 50: Revving Up Your Romance, Passion & Excitement! by Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Quill Driver, 2005). Smart advice from Dr. Ruth about health issues, physical changes, and keeping your sex life with your partner interesting and fun, with stories of real couples.

The New Love and Sex After 60 by Robert N. Butler and Myrna I. Lewis (Ballantine, 2002). A geriatric physician and a psychotherapist discuss how sexuality is affected by physical aging changes, medical conditions, medications, emotional issues, and relationship changes. Rather dry writing style, but it covers the ground.

Sex Over 50 by Joel D. Block, Ph.D, with Susan Crain Bakos (Parker, 1999). Frank self-help book aimed mostly at couples, with tips ("sizzlers") galore for recapturing romance and passion and dealing with the sexual challenges of midlife and older, plus anecdotes.

Still Doing It: Men & Women over 60 write about their sexuality, ed. Joani Blank (Down There Press, 2000) Real people 60-plus to 80-plus tell bluntly and in graphic detail (and graphic language) what they do and what they like, including an array of sexual styles.

Rescue Me, He's Wearing a Moose Hat: And 40 Other Dates After 50 by Sherry Halperin (Seal Press, 2005). Fifty-plus widow's adventures with online dating mismatches. Fabulously funny and often poignant. With dating catastrophes like these, single life doesn't look so bad.

Revolution in the Garden: The Memoirs of the Garden Keeper by Dell Williams and Lynn Vannucci, autobiography of founder of Eve's Garden, New York women's sex shop, written at age eighty-two. Her reminiscences include losing her virginity in date rape in 1940 and attending Betty Dodson's masturbation workshop in 1970.

A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance by Jane Juska (Villard, 2003). Sixty-six-year-old woman overcomes a restrictive sexual upbringing and places personal ad: "I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like." She gets plenty of responses and trysts, but the results mostly aren't very satisfying.

Still Sexy After All These Years? The 9 Unspoken Truth about Women’s Desire Beyond 50 by Leah Kliger and Deborah Nedelman (Perigee/Penguin, 2006). Empowering self-help guide to understanding your changing sexual desire after fifty, with excerpts from interviews.

Unaccompanied Women: Late-Life Adventures in Love, Sex, and Real Estate
by Jane Juska (Villard, 2006)). Juska chronicles how her life, dating and otherwise, has changed since publication of Round-Heeled Woman. If you enjoyed RHW, you’ll enjoy this one, too.

All Night Long: How to Make Love to a Man Over 50 by Barbara Keesling, Ph.D. (Harper Collins, 2000). A sex therapist and former sex surrogate explains what a woman should understand about an aging man's sexuality, his "temperamental penis," and how to keep the focus on "lovemaking, not erections--partnership, not performance." Practical, frank, and helpful.

Great Sex: A Man's Guide to the Secrets of Total-Body Sex by Michael Castleman (Rodale, 2004). Castleman writes with warmth and honesty about issues that concern men at any age: their own and their partner's sexuality and pleasure. An excellent book for the man in your life.

Intimacy with Impotence: the Couple's Guide to Better Sex after Prostate Disease by Ralph & Barbara Alterowitz (Da Capo/ Lifelong Books, 2004). A frank, practical guidebook to satisfying, sensual intimacy whether or not the male partner can have erections. An array of self-help strategies, from communication and creativity to medical therapies.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who Called In the Creeps?

I apologize profusely to any readers who were subjected to the dozens of nasty and profane comments that were posted to my blog the morning of Dec. 5. I deleted them and easily traced the trashing of my blog to an organized attack led by the fan message board of a shock-jock radio show.

The listeners apparently found the idea of joyful senior sex icky and set out to trash "the old lady sex blog," as they called it, by posting more than 40 obscene, racist, sexist, ageist, offensive messages.

Wow, this really surprised me, and continues to.

Too many people with too much time on their hands, too much meanness in their hearts, and too little capacity for intimacy, perhaps. I wonder how they treat their grandparents. We might discuss their fears of aging and sexuality, and their need to keep us as the "other" -- easy, even enjoyable, to stereotype and demean.

If you've tried to post a comment and it hasn't been accepted, I'm being particularly careful here because they've tried to continue the assault with comments that pretend to be sympathetic.

Chris Smith wrote a nice paragraph about me in his column in the Press Democrat Dec. 5, and I had many new visitors that morning. I hope they realize that I was sabotaged, and they don't stay away because of what they read before I got to it. I've changed my settings so that now I'll moderate all comments before they appear. Sorry it was necessary.

-- Joan

12/7 update: I was able to listen to the radio show that set off this assault by reading aloud from this blog for many minutes. I sent this note to the producer, who invited me to appear on the show:

I heard [the hosts] discuss my topic, book, blog, and the personal stories of those who opened their lives to me. I choose to preserve a level of dignity about older people enjoying sex and intimacy that is at odds with the show's glee at ridiculing them.

Therefore, I decline your invitation.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More on ABC Nightline show

On Friday, Dec. 1, ABC Nightline aired the segment on senior dating and sex, including an interview with me and a bit of my love story with Robert.

I had no idea how Nightline's hours of interview time would translate to a couple of minutes of air time. I knew the emphasis of the show would be on seniors' risky sexual behavior, and I hoped there would also be room for the joy and intimacy of senior sexuality.

ABC did a great job putting this show together and -- yes -- conveying not only the cautions that our age group needs to be aware of, but also the joy and exuberance -- as well as the challenges -- of being fully alive in aging bodies.

I was thrilled when I saw it. Having watched it five times now, though, it's a little embarrassing that so much focus was on how creaky our aging bodies become! I liked that the creaky talk was juxtaposed with the energetic and not-the-least-bit-creaky line dance visuals – that was cool. (And it's amusing that I'm receiving emails from people recommending specific mattresses and arthritis remedies to combat the creakiness!)

One thing I didn't mention in my background story in the post below: We had some laughs before the taping, when I asked what language was acceptable and what wasn't. I knew I'd be reading aloud from reader comments on my blog, and I'm used to speaking frankly. Respectfully, but frankly.

We all laughed together as we went over words: "erection" was OK, "hard" wasn't. When they told me that "clitoris" was okay, I reduced the crew to hysterics when I proclaimed, "Great! I've always wanted to say 'clitoris' on national TV!" But ...it turns out I didn't!

Did you see the show? What did you think?