I wouldn’t call myself sexually illiterate, but I would say that, over the past year, my view of sex has been on a one-track journey. For me, love doesn’t necessarily come into it. Trust does, kink does, pleasure does. But not love. I knew, then, that reading Sensation would challenge me – this is not a book that was going to tell me what’s hot about being whipped, and why it’s fine to have one night stands with people you feel little to no connection with. For me, those are safe topics. Isabel Losada’s delving into the relation between sex and spirituality, her focus on slow, purposeful exploration, and her self-professed, charming fascination with human happiness, all have me holding Sensation as if it’s a bomb about to go off.
And indeed, there are moments throughout where I feel my hackles rising. How can Losada claim she is ‘going to find out every single thing I can about sexuality’, and then immediately dismiss any sex that isn’t vanilla – the flavour she says to be ‘the best’? How is this book supposed to enlighten me about my sexuality, or help me have better sex, when it seems to have so little interest in the things I consider to be basic requirements? I.e, the things that turn me on.
But I am so taken in by Losada’s voice – her honesty, her humour, and her bravery in writing something so removed from her comfort zone – that I shove my doubts aside. I want, despite initial misgivings, to hear what she has to say. And, in the end, Sensation is one of the few non-fiction books I have ever found absolutely compulsive reading. For one thing, Losada turns out to be just as sceptical as I am. For almost every twinge of ‘Really though?’ that I experience, she is revealed to be one step ahead, answering my questions before I even have them fully formed.
Losada’s writing makes you feel that she is standing right over your shoulder
As she dives into the world of orgasmic meditation, or OM – a practice that stems from Buddhism and involves 15 intense minutes between one person’s clit and another’s finger – I begin to feel as if I’m witnessing Losada’s accidental initiation into a cult. She stays in an ‘OM house’ and attends lectures full of ecstatic, orgasmic people with hearts in their eyes, and I wonder whether this is less a book generally about sex, than a tribute to the single practice that is OM. But then, characteristically, she anticipates me: ‘before you decide that it really is a cult and I’ve been totally brainwashed…’
Losada’s writing makes you feel that she is standing right over your shoulder. Never once in this book does she abandon you, but carries you securely with her on a journey that she has undertaken with admirable objectivity. It might be hard for me to relate to the things she enjoys during and about sex, but the ultimate message of Sensation is universal, and so, so invigorating: pleasure is for everyone. No one is too damaged and it is never too late.
If you find yourself eyeing a copy of Sensation as if it’s going to jump off the shelf and bite you: take it home. You are more like its author than you think, and this is exactly what you should be reading.