Taschen’s “Sexy Book” Editor Offers Her Top Picks [NSFW]

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Dian Hanson has one of the best job titles in the world. As the official “Sexy Book” editor at Taschen, she gets to write and edit books such as The Big Book of Breasts and its popular follow-up, The Big Penis Book. Her latest project was editing Liz Earls’ erotic photography book titled Days of the Cougar. We asked Hanson if she’d be interested in curating a list of her favorite sexy books and she enthusiastically agreed, with the proviso that “everyone’s concept of a ‘sexy book’ is different.” We were surprised at some of her choices, but her explanations for her decisions are seductive and enlightening. Hanson writes, “The following are books that have had an impact on my sexual development, knowledge or pleasure through the years. Not all were intended to be stimulating, but all definitely deal with the subject of sex, and are treasured additions to my library. They are listed in the order in which I discovered or created them.” Click through to check out her sexy selections — it should go without saying that some of these are NSFW, so be careful when clicking if you are gainfully employed and aim to stay that way.

Monsters and Madonnas: A Book of Methods by William Mortensen

This book includes both nudes and grotesques by the great pictorial photographer William Mortensen. From my father’s book collection, these were the first nude photographs I was allowed to study at length as a child, and the interspersing of naked women with monsters was irresistible. I acquired my own copy in 2004 and it’s still compelling.

Psychopathia Sexualis by Dr. R. Krafft-Ebing

I discovered this reference book of sexual pathology in my local suburban library at age 14. I didn’t dare try to check it out and returned to the library over and over to stand in the stacks and read about glove fetishism, cross dressing, men obsessed with ugly old women, and the family taints that supposedly spawned these perversions. I’ll bet I knew more about aberrant sexuality than any other virgin misfit in Seattle.

Bisba by Timothy Burr

The title stands for “Burr Identification System of Breast Analysis,” and the self-published author posits that a woman’s character can be determined by the size and shape of her breasts. This guy is the crackpot’s crackpot, a total misogynist, who invented his own language to describe every conceivable female character flaw — and no positive traits whatsoever. Copies can still be found if you want to measure your breasts to discover whether you’re more parvenutive or pedantine.

Atlas of Men: A Guide to Somatotyping the Adult Male at all Ages by William H. Sheldon

Most of us have heard the terms ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph to describe people who are by nature thin, muscular, and fat, but few know that those terms were coined by repressed homosexual William Sheldon, a nutcase who was actually a respected medical authority back before eugenics fell utterly out of favor. This respect allowed Sheldon access to thousands of male college students who he photographed nude over several decades to fill this book. He divides his nude males (eyes and genitals sadly blocked out) into many categories based on their body “somatotypes,” with each category named after an animal and described in animal terms, as Sheldon was clearly more comfortable loving animals than boys.

Porn Art andPorn Art 2 by Dahmane

These books count as one, as Porn Art 2 is just continuation of the filthy fun found in the first little volume. Basically, photographer Dahmane married notorious French porn star, Chloe des Lysses, dressed her up like a high fashion model, and followed her around Paris as she performed a variety of shocking sex acts with sundry partners and objects. You’ll pay through the nose for these, but they’re worth it.

Le Banquet by Gille Berquet

Another perfect small volume by a French photographer. Maybe what I like best is that it arrived unexpectedly at my office on a tough day in 2000. Very dirty, very beautifully photographed, and as with Porn Art, a collaboration between a photographer and his lover/muse. (Urine and bondage figure prominently in it.)

My Wife by Petter Hegre

Apparently I like to see husbands documenting their wives doing dirty things. Never thought about it, but a pattern emerges here. In the last 10 years Hegre’s become famous for his perfect slender nudes, but this first book, wherein his then-wife cavorts nude in public and private, striking vulgar poses, laughing, crying, masturbating, pissing, and making out with Hegre and others, has an intimate warmth lacking in his subsequent work.

Varieties of Delinquent Youth: an Introduction to Constitutional Psychiatry by William H. Sheldon

Sheldon again, and possibly an even better book than the later Atlas of Men, though there is more text and fewer photos. Before he hooked up with the colleges Sheldon spent several years studying the inmates of a halfway house for bad boys. Again, each young nude is photographed front, back and side view, with eyes and genitals blocked out, but here with a detailed history and analysis based on his body type. Sheldon’s affections are more obvious here, bestowed especially on muscular bold young men who are good at fighting, while the weak and helpless earn his scorn.

The History of Men’s Magazines, Volume 6: 1970s Under the Counter by Dian Hanson

I loved making all the books in this series, but this final volume, with all the wacky sex shop titles from the 1970s, is my favorite. The bright covers, happy hippy smiles, dripping generative organs and titles like “Famous Anus,” “Hot Hole Detective Women,” “Enema La Douche,” “Suck My Balls!,” and “Surrender to the Beaver” perfectly capture pre-AIDS, post-sexual revolution ’70s sexuality.

The Big Penis Book by Dian Hanson

I suspect that if any memory of me exists 50 years after my death it’ll be that I authored The Big Penis Book. Nothing I’ve done was as fun to research, demanding that I look at thousands of nude male photos, searching for that 1.8% measuring over 8 inches erect. I still love to page through, astounded anew by some of these killer pythons. I’m not really a size queen (I swear!) but there is something about a big one that’s hard to deny.