Sex education


Need help in the sack?

Sarah Gold, a senior reviews editor at Publishers Weekly, said relationship advice books used to pile up on her desk only before Valentine's Day. Now she gets a steady barrage year-round.

With book sales down 2.8 percent last year, to $24.3 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers, the industry seems to be banking on readers' hormones and heartache. Gold credits the wild success of Greg Behrendt's "He's Just Not That Into You," published in 2004, for opening the floodgates. The tough-love tone of that book tapped into a young audience reared on "Sex and the City," she said.

"I think you're seeing a lot more books now with a similar tone," Gold said. "It's caught on as a way to reach younger readers."

Aroused? Here's a sampling of some hot and steamy relationship literature. While the messages often are the same (you have to love yourself before you can find love, it takes upper-body strength to perform the wheelbarrow, etc.), each book offers different strokes for different folks.

If you ... Can't understand why your man hasn't proposed
Check out ... "Will Marry for Food, Sex and Laundry" by Simon Oaks
The gist: A bachelor-turned-husband reveals the inner workings of the male mind to teach ladies how to get and keep the man of their dreams. Excerpt: "Complaining that he looks like a slob on Sunday when he's watching football in the den is pointless (and obnoxious). Save your nagging for the important stuff."

If you ... Always hoped to act out Prince's '23 positions in a one-night stand'
Check out ... "Forbidden Knowledge: Sex. 101 Sensual Acts NOT Everyone Should Know How to Do" by Clare Bailey
The gist: Step-by-step instructions on the naughty (how to have a threesome), the serious (how to reveal you have an STD) and the weird (how to recognize an asphyxiophiliac).

If you ... Are suffering from some low self-esteem
Check out ... "How to Love Like a Hot Chick" by Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent
The gist: The first rule of hot-chick club is to know that you are a hot chick. With that confidence, learn to love your single-hood, ask a guy out, scout out the 20 best places to meet men (ie., the bank, the dry cleaners, the grocery store), recognize a good relationship when you have it and a bad one when you don't.

If you ... Need to spice up your sex life
Check out ..."1001 Sexcapades to do If You Dare" by Bobbi Dempsey
The gist: Entry 739: "Use a juicy piece of fruit (strawberries are a good choice) to leave a line along your partner's body. Then go back and let your tongue follow the sweet trail. You can also do this with liquor."

If you ... Hide your latest Nora Roberts romance novel behind the Economist
Check out ... "Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels" by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
The gist: This intellectual analysis of romance novels tackles rapist heroes, pirate cliches and quivering mounds of sexual euphemisms. Also includes write-your-own-romance-novel MadLibs and superb chapter subheadings, such as "The Irresistible Woman's Magic Hoo Hoo Tames the Untamable Mighty Wang."

If you ... Get turned on by competition
Check out ... "Love Bets: 300 Wagers to Spice Up Your Love Life" by Sharon Naylor
The gist: Make romantic wagers on mundane things, such as: "If Anoop gets voted off 'American Idol' this week, we'll do tequila body shots," or, "If the next head of state to visit the White House is Silvio Berlusconi, you have to wear a naughty nurse costume."

If you ... Are seeking closure about a breakup
Check out ... "Better Love Next Time" by J.M. Kearns
The gist: Examine what went wrong in your past relationship so you don't repeat those mistakes. Know the signs that a relationship is going down the tubes (example: you cry when he's nice to you), beware the rebound, recognize if someone is wrong for you, and understand why some good matches go bad.

If you ... Are on a hunt for your soul mate
Check out ... "How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You in 90 Minutes (or less)" by Nicholas Boothman
The gist: The key to love is finding your "matched opposite": a person who shares your same values, but has a different personality. So get out there, make eye contact, smile, and look for those "Me too!" moments of conversation when you can establish common ground.

If you ... Have a crush and a cell phone
Check out ... "Flirtexting" by Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz
The gist: Master flirtatious texting by knowing the rules, such as: "Do not respond immediately to any text"; "The overuse of abbreviations, acronyms and smilies ... will put you on the next bus back to Single-town"; and "If a boy texts you any time past 10 p.m., he only wants to make out with you late night."

If you ... Suspect your partner is cheating
Check out ... "Warning Signs: How to Know If Your Partner is Cheating--and What to do About It" by Anthony DeLorenzo and Dawn Ricci
The gist: Is he suddenly buying new clothes? Is she expressing a different taste in movies? Does he seem disinterested and bored? From body language to cell phone text messages, these private investigators take you through the signs of infidelity and the steps for confronting an unfaithful lover.

If you ... Are in a sex-less relationship
Check out ... "Sizzling Sex in 30 Days"
The gist: Follow a 30-day road map to rekindle your sex life (note: actual sex doesn't happen until Day 12). Day 1: Awaken your senses; Day 6: Massage for lovers; Day 12: Going all the way ... slowly; Day 22: Take a bath or skinny dip together; Day 30: Celebrate with your dream date.

If you ... Worry that sex with your partner is getting boring
Check out ... "Top 10 Secrets for Great Sex" by Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The gist: Excerpt: "The reason that a monotonous life spoils the joys of sex is that your brain is your most important sex organ, not your genitals. Tickling your partner's intellect has as much to do with foreplay as does tickling the fun parts. Reinvigorating your day-to-day life together will make the sparks fly."

If you ... Enjoy literary porn
Check out ... "One in the Flesh: Bedtime Stories for Married Couples" edited by Nathyn Brendan Masters
The gist: Who knew marriage could be so steamy? Excerpt: "She sucked in a breath of cold air and bit down gently on his shoulder as he bent his head beneath the covers and roughly pushed up her nightgown. He held the bundled cotton firmly in one hand and made his way from the pliable skin of her throat ..."

If you ... Revel in other people's humiliation
Check out ... "Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me" edited by Ben Karlin
The gist: Famous wits share life lessons learned from their breakups with women, including Andy Richter ("Girls don't make passes at boys with fat asses"), Patton Oswalt ("Dating a stripper is a recipe for perspective"), Stephen Colbert ("The heart is a choking hazard") and Dan Savage ("I am gay").

If you ... Worship Demi Moore for roping in Ashton Kutcher
Check out ... "Hot Cougar Sex" by Ilona Paris
The gist: A self-professed cougar details her sexual encounters with men a few dozen years her junior. Excerpts: "Can I just say his butt was akin to two perfect vanilla cupcakes"; "I was amazed that someone so young could possess such wonderful technique and dexterity with their hands."

If you ... Want to make love better than the Italians
Check out ... Men's Health's "Guide to the Best Sex in the World"
The gist: Did you know Portuguese men have the most one-night stands? And Hungarian men try the most number of positions during sex? And Australians have sex in the most different locations? The U.S., meanwhile, is No. 1 in using sexual enhancement drugs.

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