Review: The List – Joanna Bolouri.

the listDominatrixes don’t cuddle and listen to Johnny Cash, we are complete bastards and we listen to Rammstein.

Joanna Bolouri’s The List is the modern lady’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, but with the sexual tenacity of Sex and the City. Picture the end goal being sexual liberation in 2013 and not a boyfriend in the 1990s and you’re on track.

This follows Phoebe, a 30-something singleton whose ex-boyfriend Alex has left her heartbroken. Not content with a year of being sad, she wants a new year’s resolution that actually means something, not a string of promises that are foregone by January 3rd. So, she compiles ‘the list’: 10 things she’d like to try sexually, from sex to a stranger to mastering the art of dirty talk. Recruiting her friend (with benefits) Oliver to the cause, she explores and pushes her sexual boundaries, with some going easier than they often would in real life, but others passed off as an ‘I’ll never do that again’.

Following her sexual exploits, Phoebe not only discovers a lot about herself and why past relationships failed, but encounters a number of men she wouldn’t previously have. From the dynamics with her boss Frank changing to the idea of Vince Vaughn lookalikes being lusted after, the mix of male characters makes a refreshing change of pace. No, they’re not all sexy lotharios, no they’re not all well endowed sex gods. Bolouri isn’t afraid to give her character a little disappointment.

It’s genuinely funny, and it’s fearless about sexual encounters. It’s not detailed in the way that would put some people off, but it’s told through the diary of someone who has the right balance of humour and seriousness when it comes to their problems. Friends don’t sugar coat their criticism, and this may be the first book where the line “Did you eat my twix?” has you laughing out loud on a train.

It’s witty, on point humour, and it has a healthy attitude to sex, body image and relationships. The references are relevant too, like deleting Twitter with the thought, “Stephen Fry was never going to follow me back anyway” to weird sex dreams, including “that pair off Masterchef”. It explores how it can impact friendships, time with strangers and exes, and it does it with the Jones-esque ‘because she swallowed the evidence’ humour. One of my favourite books this year, and most certainly my new favourite singleton hitting the town. Recommend!

*Additional note: As an Ann Summers worker I feel the need to respond to this part: The sales assistants in these sorts of shops are brilliant. They’re all mellow and thinking, Yeah, you’ve just bought enough lube to fit a truck in there you big PERVERT! but they never raise a pierced eyebrow, or look like they give a shit that you have £150 worth of anal beads in your basket.

We don’t care! Seriously. Good on you people for buying whatever you feel like. And that’s another reason I love this book. It has a healthy attitude to the use of companies like Ann Summers. It’s not a taboo to buy sex toys, or to use sex toys alone or with a partner. More books need to be this positive to a woman’s sexuality, especially when single! A lot of books promote themselves as being liberating, etc, but still slam things like Ann Summers.


7 thoughts on “Review: The List – Joanna Bolouri.

  1. writingthebody says:

    sorry if I am being stupid (really), but what is an Ann Summers worker? The line at the beginning got my attention – Johnny Cash v Rammstein – kinda apples and oranges, though I must admit if I were on a desert island and had to choose it would be Rosenrot anyday….would not like to have had a life without that….all those monks flogging themselves. Goodness, I feel kinda rude jusr raving on like this. Sorry. If you want to you can delete it….I just missed something, that’s all. Maybe if I read more posts I will get it…hmm….better stop there….

    • Heather says:

      The line at the top makes complete sense in the context of the book! Ann Summers is a lingerie/sex toy shop, and I work in one of them. Always knew there was a stigma towards the shop but you really see it when you work there. Just thought it was nice to finally(!) come across a book that promotes it as a healthy, normal shop 🙂

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