Pros: Could teach you a lot about you, your relationship, and those close to you
Cons: Some of these are difficult questions to answer; some questions could lead to trouble
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
First published 1/7/2005
Review copy courtesy of Workman Publishing.
Quite some time ago I reviewed Gregory Stock’s “The Book of Questions.” I said it made a great conversation starter, as well as writer’s inspirational tool. This time I’m reviewing his “The Book of Questions: Love and Sex,” and it occupies a slightly different niche.
The questions in this book, as is probably obvious from the title, cover the subjects of love, sex, and relationships. Many of them assume a current relationship (although you can simply answer as though you were in a relationship), and they also assume a heterosexual relationship (although many questions apply equally well to a homosexual relationship or are adaptable).
The questions in this book are, in general, a bit deeper and more thought-provoking; they’re also definitely of an adult nature. I think this book is best for self-exploration purposes, in which you answer some of the questions for yourself and learn a few things you might not have known before. It can also be good for learning more about your relationship. If you’re willing to talk about these with your lover or spouse they can bring about greater openness, but I do have one reservation here. Some of these are going to be tough questions on difficult topics (fidelity, in thought and deed, comes up quite often, for example) and could conceivably lead to arguments rather than closeness under the wrong circumstances. So be careful which questions you choose to answer; start slow, and perhaps avoid anything that makes either of you too uncomfortable unless you’re sure you can handle it.
Like “The Book of Questions” this is a small book, capable of fitting in a reasonably large pocket (the better to use the questions as conversation-starters wherever you may be). It includes 243 questions, plus follow-ups to a handful of them. The questions in this book seem more predictable, but then they do cover one narrow range of topics. A large number of the questions are about tradeoffs. For instance, question #194 is,
Would you rather have a wonderful and enduring marriage after painful growth in two previous broken marriages, or have a decent first marriage that lasts?
I know in a lot of ways these sorts of questions spur some of the deeper, more difficult discussions, but personally they aren’t my favorites. (Hmm, maybe there’s a connection there.) There are some interesting little tidbits, such as question #193:
Do you get a deeper pleasure from loving or being loved?
I particularly like questions like this–deceptively simple, yet surprisingly revealing, often concerning things most people won’t have stopped to think about before.
You could still use this book as a conversation-starter, like the last one, but only with people you feel comfortable talking about such intimate issues with. You can still use it as inspiration for writing purposes, but mostly just in cases where your characters have relationship issues to explore and you want to get a better handle on them. The book is very simple–pretty much just the questions, one or two to a small page, with white space surrounding them–Dr. Stock wanted to make sure he didn’t give the impression of any kind of “correct” answer, so there’s no discussion in the book at all. He wanted the discussion provoked by the questions to reflect entirely the beliefs and thoughts of the people having the discussion, and I think that’s a great way to approach things.
Certainly this is one book that will make you think, and that could, if used well, bring you and your loved one closer together than ever.