Top Ten Tuesday: Book Quotes that Were Nominated for the Bad Sex Awards

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

This is a tricky topic… my working life abounds in quotations (I teach Literature) and I do tend to throw in quotations with my reviews here. But to choose a theme… to decide which themes to discard… One part of me wants to go for the big classic themes (love, death, gender etc), another wants to go for something bookish (quotations about reading and books and libraries); one part wants to focus on classics and Shakespeare; another part wants to focus on contemporary literature. Part of me wants to head completely off-piste with the topic…

And so, in a mood of silliness and frivolity, I was casting my mind around and what came to it was a passage from Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers where our two main characters finally have some ‘special alone time’ and Howard

knelt down to undress her, his shaking hands fumbling over every button and zip and hook, until she was naked in front of him. Then he stopped and looked up at her with a troubled expression.

‘I haven’t done this for seven years. Will you forgive me if it goes badly?’

Jean laughed, amazed at her own boldness in displaying her body while he was still fully clothed. It was the strangest feeling, placing herself in someone else’s power with complete confidence. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him.

‘Well, I haven’t done it for longer than that. But it doesn’t matter, as long as we’re kind.’

And so even though they were unpractised, they were kind and that made it all right.

I found that a rather touching touching and tender moment – if possibly a little preachy – and a lovely coy depiction of sex compared to some more graphic, biological entries in my reading recently. Queenie for example opens with a vaginal examination; The Pisces reveals more about mermen – and Tinder dates – than I needed to know!

So this week’s topic is not for the faint hearted so if reference to body parts, genitals, overwrought simile and metaphor and downright disturbing imagery offends, I thank you for dropping by and hope to see you again next week. Otherwise, I present a selection of nominations and winners of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award, running since 1995 apparently!

The what of your what now? The billiard rack?!

And the image of her face and vagina “competing” for attention… what are they doing? Whistling? Dancing? Waving placards saying “Look at me”?

*More on placards later in this post.

I’m just glad I have not read furtter to find out what this billiard rack does!

Oh my… her “wound”? Somehow, a phrase that only a man would commit to paper…. and “pulpy furred wetness”?

I find most weird the juxtaposition of the onomatopoeic and the bestial with the ceremonial “sancta sanctorum”…

This just sounds painful… those verbs “seized, kneaded, massaged, squashed, crushed…”

Just no.

Ow!

I can only hope that this is ironic and comical.

Lovemaking devolves into a Da Vinci’s code riddle when it is “a series of cryptic clues”.

The over-the-top passion of some descriptions is stripped away and the result is something more akin to the TV instruction manual: make adjustments and calibrations…

I am all for considering over angles.

But I feel that the “actively swallowed” is not working here, Murakami… and I think it the the adverb.

And my mind shudders at the thought of an author checking the veracity of some of their similes.

Hide the butter!

An odd combination of the animal and the mechanical here: ratchet, concertina, chugging… gives way to the boa constrictor.

Why are some male writers so keen to empower the female characters’ genitalia? We are only one step away from a vagina dentata here!

This is going well – despite the unpleasant deployment of the verb “sucked – until, that is, the final simile.

Nipples sniffing in the night…

The present tense is a distraction here, as are the overly contrived short sentences – I mean, why? – but alas not enough of a distraction to avoid noticing that metaphor.

“Placards for the endomorphically endowed”.

The designer pussy was actually a nice touch of humour… alas, the novel seems to reveal that the design in question is a swastika…

This, for me works.

It is a nice balance between the realistic (“hands on her haunches”) and the ephemeral (“the rest of her was smoke”).

I mean, it is from Arundhati Roy’s gorgeous The God of Small Things after all – and man can Roy write?

But what is going on with those toothbrushes?! Twice?!

I just cannot really picture what is going on here. “Blood and plumbing”?

And those verbs!

Gnawed. Swinging. Galloped. It all sounds rather too energetic! Especially for a gentleman at my time of life!


So, a rather silly and unnecessarily salacious list of ridiculous descriptions of sex. I do hope I have not offended anyone! Feel free to leave a comment as usual – unless you were offended in which case, please take my apology.


  • June 1: Freebie (choose any past topic, or come up with you own)
  • June 8: Books I Loved that Made Me Want More Books Like Them (The wording is weird here, so if you have a better way to say this please let me know! What I’m thinking is… you read a book and immediately wanted more just like it, perhaps in the same genre, about the same topic or theme, by the same author, etc. For example, I once read a medical romance and then went to find more because it was so good. The same thing happened to me with pirate historical romances and romantic suspense.)
  • June 15: Books On My Summer 2021 TBR (or winter, if you live in the southern hemisphere)
  • June 22: Bookish Wishes (My birthday is today, so celebrate with me by granting the wishes of your friends! This is a popular thing to do on Twitter, but today we’re blog hopping. List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to a wishlist so that people can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. Don’t feel obligated!)
  • June 29: Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2021
  • July 6: Reasons Why I Love Reading

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