Tristan Taormino’s book 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM came out as an e-book shortly after the wave of 50 Shades of Grey began to hit us by storm. Taormino was determined to get accurate information out into the world as soon as possible, for the E. L. James fandom certainly turned a few heads toward the kinkier part of the sexual spectrum. However, even though it may have gotten more people talking about sex and what sex can look like, it didn’t intend to act as an informative, how-to guide.


Now, Taormino’s book has been published in print by Cleis Press. This is an excellent BDSM 101 book because it provides brief yet comprehensive information about kinky play. Taormino does an great job of explaining kink and all of its aspects, from fetishes to tools, power exchanges to dispelling its myths. This book is brief in that there is only enough room to highlight all of the features involved in BDSM.

Here’s an excerpt that sheds some light onto dominance and submission:

A power exchange of some kind is nearly always present in human relationships. There are people all around us in power exchange relationships who don’t acknowledge the dynamic or call it anything….Kinky people do the opposite: they consciously create and name a power dynamic in order to eroticize it. By making the power exchange explicit, they get to act on it, play with it, and let it drive the erotic interaction.

What a thoughtful introduction about the rationale behind playing with power exchanges. There are many ways and reasons folks experiment with power, and naming the exchange makes it visible, visceral, and more real to those participating in the scene.

Here’s an excerpt about sensory deprivation:

When you take away someone’s sense of sight or sound, their other senses become heightened. When you’re blindfolded, senses become louder, smells become more intense, and even the lightest touch can send chills down the spine. When you can’t hear anything or you can only one particular sound, you focus on what you can feel, smell, possibly see (if you can), or sense around you.

Sensory deprivation can be a way to make someone focus more on the things being done to them. This can make the experience feel more intense than it otherwise might be.

I love that the book is nearly pocket size; with 141 pages it can act as a beginner’s how-to handbook. There’s even a kink checklist to assess interests and limits with partners. Couples can dog-ear pages with things they want to try, and scribble notes next to points of inspiration. This is a great book to keep on hand (or in a gear bag) to reference.

This book is so wonderful. It is thorough and covers all of the introductory bases in a thoughtful, straightforward way. Thanks to Cleis Press for sending me this book in exchange for my review of it. xoxo