We interrupt this story to bring you…SEX!

We interrupt this story to bring  you…SEX!

I’ll read books with explicit sex scenes…but I do want to expect them. 🙂

I think it’s quite strange when I’m reading a story I’m enjoying…a science fiction novel, a mystery, with interesting character development and plot, and suddenly, there is an anatomically specific sex scene.

It doesn’t feel like it belongs there:  like it’s an ad for sex. 😉

The old saying is that sex sells, but these sorts of incongruous sex congress interludes have the opposite effect on me.

They often aren’t even sexy…it’s so step by step, it reads like instructions on how to put together a piece of furniture. 😉

Again, my biggest problem with them is that they just don’t belong there. It would be just as bad if you were reading a Western and got three pages of string theory (wait…I think Michael Crichton might have actually done that once…just kidding).

I was recently speaking with an author who had a related story. This author wrote a novel, and the publisher said it needed a sex scene. The author suggested that wasn’t a good idea…and the publisher offered to hire a ghost writer for it!

The book was published without it, and honestly, I think people would have liked the book a lot less with one of these “coitus insertus” bits.

While there are undeniably people who seek out a book to read because it has sex, I just can’t see a lot of people saying, “You know, I loved that novel…but it would have been better with a sex scene in it.”

I don’t know what the answer is to  it. Books don’t have a rating system, like movies or videogames, and I don’t really want them to have one. It’s not even about rating the overall level…I just want to know ahead of time if the author (perhaps under the influence of an editor/publisher) is going to take a “dirty detour”.

I should be clear: editors and publishers often greatly improve a book…the recent example of

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which was reportedly an early draft of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

appears to be the exemplar of editorial improvement.

What do you think? Are you bothered by these sorts of sex scenes? Are there other types of incongruous scenes which bother you? Are they less likely in tradpubs (traditionally published) books than in indies (independently published books)? Would you want to be warned…if so, how and by whom? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

18 Responses to “We interrupt this story to bring you…SEX!”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    No, I’m not bothered by them; I call them Ikea sex scenes. Insert tab A into slot B and usually quite boring. No warning needed. I’d rather be warned about christian messages being sneaked into books.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      So, you are saying that having something boring in a book doesn’t bother you? 😉 That’s my point: they often don’t seem to belong, and (I’ll use your word) it bothers me because it disrupts the integrity (as in structural, not moral) of the book to have this irrelevant section. I wonder how many of them have been done by ghost writers? That might explain a lot.

      I actually consider using that store as an analogy…but the instructions that come with Ikea furniture are a lot less explicit than these scenes, often. 😉 It’s like they are being programmed in BASIC…and about as sexy. 🙂 Not much “If Then”, though…a lot more “For Next” looping…

      • Harold Delk Says:

        More like EDLIN really (or the part of COBOL that spawned Compiles Only Because Of Luck … I still have semi-colons to spare should you find a market for them.)

        If a sex scene seems out of place to me I just skim past it and move on. Having something boring in a book does bother me, but if I stopped reading every book with a boring passage in it I’d not get much reading done. Many of the books I read are quite boring because I read a lot of tech manuals which were not designed for reading excitement … maybe a ghost writer could spice some of those up a bit with a random sex scene or two. “Random numbers spawn random sex scenes on a VR5 schedule; a behaviorist’s view of boredom generation among novelists.” Actually anything that “seems” out of place to me in my reading is quite jarring and upsets my rhythm. Wonder how a page or two on quantum physics would fit if placed in Fifty Shades of Gray?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Harold!

        As to your last point…yes, exactly. It’s jarring because it doesn’t belong. That’s really my point, I suppose. It isn’t so much that there is sex in the book…again, that’s okay with me. “Warning” might not be the right word. Maybe “advisory”? How about something this: “NOTICE: this book contains a passage which has no purpose except to attempt to broaden the appeal of the book”? 😉

    • Bailey Says:

      If you go onto TV Tropes, the black hole of free time, there actually is a tag for “IKEA Erotica”. Apparently many people agree with you 🙂

  2. Phink Says:

    I agree with you. My favorite books, Harry Potter, just would not have been the same if out of the blue a couple of professors had snuck off to the room of requirement.

  3. Karen Salmons Says:

    Back in the “dark ages” when we had Doubleday Book Club and The Literary Guild they used to put Explicit next to the title so you knew. I always knew what Rhett & Scarlett were going to do, it wasn’t necessary to have a diagram. I have no problem with these kinds of books but I’d like the option to avoid them and an Inspirational warning would be okay too I guess.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      I didn’t remember that! I think I did belong to Doubleday, but I wasn’t much of a book club person.

  4. Zebras Says:


    I’m only bothered when its poorly written as it would be if it was inserted just for the sake of it being there. But I don’t feel the need to know in advance about it. Anything that makes my brain stop and say, hey wait, why is that there, even if its a grammatical error, is what annoys me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Yes, poorly written and just inserted is the problem for me. It’s not specifically the explicit content, since, as I mentioned, I’m fine with reading books with sex scenes. I’d want a warning if there were three pages of quantum physics inserted in the middle of a Western, too. 😉

  5. jjhitt Says:

    I can think of several of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations where an obligatory sex scene does nothing but break the continuity of the story. It’s not erotic or even romantic, it’s more like running into several pages typed in ALL CAPS for no good reason.

  6. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’m not a fan of explicit sex scenes in books, movies or TV. When Rhett carried Scarlet up the staircase and into the shadows, we didn’t need to see what they were doing. Anyone not capable of imagining what happened next probably doesn’t need to be exposed to the details. I wouldn’t not buy a book just because it had scattered sex scenes in it, but I don’t buy books where sex seems to be the only purpose of the book. I quickly fast forward through the mushy stuff just skimming to make sure I’m not missing an important plot detail amid the bursting bodices and throbbing codpieces. I guess that means some authors won’t get full payment for some of my Kindle borrows.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yes, that’s right…so if you skim quickly through the “pages”, not long enough (as far as Amazon is concerned) for you to have “parsed” them, the payment would be less. Would that mean that that author would be less likely to include those sorts of scenes in the future? Not if they think the sex scene sells the book to other people…

  7. Man in the Middle Says:

    I try to include some kind of warning about both sex, violence and language in book reviews I do of books that unexpectedly include either, especially if the book might otherwise be recommended for younger readers.

    But I’ve noticed that I have to do so gently to avoid having the review down-voted by folks who resend any hint of criticism of all-sex, all-violence and all-swearing in a book.

    My standard is, what would I want to know before handing the book to my 7 year old grandson, who is just finishing re-reading the last Harry Potter book, for himself this time?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      It’s good to be aware of how your are delivering a message and how that affects people, but I wouldn’t worry too much about downvoting. I’ve been downvoted many times…it doesn’t always have anything at all to do with what you wrote. 🙂 There may be other agendas at work.

      Congratulations to your grandson! That’s impressive!

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