Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex

Olivia Judson

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation is a unique guidebook to sex. It reveals, for example, when necrophilia is acceptable, and who should commit bestiality with whom. It discloses the best time to have a sex change, how to have a virgin birth, and when to eat your lover. It also advises on more mundane matters—such as male pregnancy and the joys of a detachable penis.

Quirky, entertaining, and informative, the book comprises letters from all creatures worried about their bizarre sex lives to the wise Dr. Tatiana, the only sex columnist in creation with a prodigious knowledge of evolutionary biology. Fusing natural history with advice to the lovelorn, blending wit and rigor, she is able to reassure her anxious correspondents that although the acts they describe might sound appalling and unnatural, they are all perfectly normal—so long as you are not a human. In the process, she explains the science behind it all, from Darwin's theory of sexual selection to why sexual reproduction exists in the first place, and, applying standards of the human world to the mating habits of the natural one, in the end she reveals the wonders of both.


Praise for Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation

"A funny and original and blissfully original new book, which purports to be sex advice offered to the animal kingdom by a universal agony aunt called Dr. Tatiana, and amply demonstrates the sheer unyielding ruthlessness of the business of procreation . . . her science is first-rate."—The Economist

"Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation is a thoroughly engaging and exhaustively researched account of the numerous different kinds of sexual behavior that biologists have observed in the natural world. By human standards, much of this behavior is quite kinky (my favorite is the description of blow hole sex among Amazon River dolphins). However, as Olivia Judson explains, it is quite natural within its own context."—Richard Morris, author of The Evolutionists: The Struggle for Darwin's Soul

"Wonderfully entertaining and authoritative . . . A stimulating feast of extraordinary sexual practices."—Nature

"Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation manages the improbable feat of uniting in one volume the cosmic perspective of Charles Darwin with the titillating curiosity of Dr. Ruth."—Ken Ringle, The Washington Post

"Perhaps the most original advice manual ever written . . . Judson has pulled off the rarest coup: a science book that's actually fun to read."—The New Republic

"Judson has written a most amusing and educative book . . . Dr. Tatiana has much to teach mere humans."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Judson's witty, well-researched vignettes are a pleasure, natural history that goes down as sweet as a trashy tell-all."—Outside magazine

"Long live Dr. Tatiana. Without her, what would creatures troubled by their bizarre sex lives do? . . . Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation is charming, hilarious and exhaustively researched"—Miami Herald

"A compilation of sex advice for lovelorn beetles, hyenas, and stickleback fish? You hold in your hands what is obviously unique a book. And also quirky, immensely entertaining, and wonderfully informative about the evolutionary biology of sex. A great read, even for someone as biologically mundane as a human."—Robert M. Sapolsky, author of A Primate's Memoir

"Human? Lucky you! You rate a delightful romp through the weird, wild world of animal sex, with a guide who really knows the, um, ins and outs. Eavesdrop as Dr. T consoles her clients, from frustrated fruit flies to lovelorn golden pottos. You think you have problems? You could be a green spoon worm who's just inhaled her husband, or a peacock ashamed of his fifth-rate feathers. Count your blessings, primate. Then read, learn, enjoy."—Melvin J. Konner, author of The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

"Who knew sex could be so much fun? But while you're laughing and gasping at the kinky courtships of the bugs and other beasts Judson 'advises,' you'll be painlessly absorbing a fascinating chunk of up-to-the-minute evolutionary biology."—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

"Her question-and-answer format is especially engaging . . . Interesting and amusing."—David Shiflett, The Wall Street Journal

"Erasmus Darwin titillated 18th century London with his poem 'The Loves of Plants.' He never new the half of it. Dr. Tatiana knows how the other half loves, and it's much kinkier than anybody imagined. Never has science seemed more like daytime television."—Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

"Move over, Ruth Westheimer and Joyce Brothers. Dr. Tatiana's sex advice isn't limited to the human lovelorn . . .While the presentation is parodistic, the information Judson provides is a rigorous overview of the reasons different animals mate as they do and how their sex acts figure into the evolutionary process."—Science News

"More positions than the Kama Sutra—but don't try this at home!"—Steve Jones, author of The Language of Genes: Solving the Mysteries of Our Genetic Past, Present and Future

"Witty, racy, informed, entertaining, and instructive . . . Judson is a gifted writer, and her book helps further understanding."—Science

"A saucy treat . . . Tatiana's message is one of being open to all the wonders of the natural world."—The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Delightful . . . Easy to understand and hard to resist, it's sex education at its prime—accurate, comprehensive, and hilarious. Your boyfriend will be thrilled. Just don't get too inspired and bite his head off."—Newsweek

"Eye-popping, filthy, and funny. Dr. Tatiana has left no stone unturned in her long, hard stare at the copulatory world of brutes . . . A masterpiece of nonfiction writing, it contains a dense variety of compelling scientific erudition presented with a combination of clarity, irony, and cheeky good humour that makes it wholly and refreshingly original."—Literary Review (London)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

PART ILET SLIP THE WHORES OF WAR!The battle of the sexes is no myth. Success at sexual reproduction is at the heart of the evolutionary process. But greater success for her often means less success for him. The upshot? An eternal war--and an astounding diversity of strategies.1A SKETCH OF THE BATTLEFIELDBoys are promiscuous and girls are chaste, right? Wrong. The battle of the sexes erupts because, in most species, girls are wanton.Dear Dr. Tatiana, 
My name's Twiggy, and I'm a stick insect. It's with great embarrassment that I write to you while
Read the full excerpt


  • Olivia Judson

  • An alumna of Stanford with a doctorate from Oxford, Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist and award-winning journalist who has published in The Economist, Nature, Science, and The Guardian. She is currently a research fellow at Imperial College in London.