One of the most common reactions I get when people find out I’m a sex educator and coach is some version of, “OMG, you must have awesome sex!”
They aren’t wrong, but what they can’t know is that awesomeness didn’t just happen. Well, some of it did, but most of it comes from curiosity, exploration and practice. After all, I’ve been with my partner for over 11 years. The easy parts aren’t enough to keep the spark alive — we actively look for and try out new ideas to deepen our connection and keep our sex life intimate, adventurous and fulfilling.
I’m not alone in struggling to keep the things interesting. However, by nature of my work, I have the “in” on the best resources to help you do the same. Here are 13 books about sex that have had the biggest impact on my sex life and that of my clients.
1. Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That’ll Transform Your Sex Life
by Emily Nagoski
If you could only ever read one book about sex, this is that book. Seriously — it should be required for everyone with a vulva and their lovers. If you ever wondered, Is this normal, Am I the only one? or WTF is happening? Emily is here to tell you yes, no, and here’s what. It’s sex science at its most empowering, nurturing and fun. Plus, there are exercises to help you figure out what (else) turns you on, helps you climax and how to re-create those with your partner.
2. Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered — for Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex
by Debby Herbenick
You can’t go wrong with any of Herbenick’s books, but Sex Made Easy is my favorite. You get straightforward, easy-to-do solutions for all your sexual woes — and a few you didn’t even know were a problem! Think of it as your sexopedia: Read it straight through or consult it as problems come up. You can’t go wrong either way.
3. The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality
by Rachel Hills
The Sex Myth is behind all those ‘shoulds’ you tell yourself about your sex life and relationship. Things like how many times per week you have sex, what type of sex (vanilla or kinky) is best for your relationship and how you should feel about the sex you’re having. And it’s the reason issues in the bedroom feel so much bigger than in other parts of your relationship. Once you understand The Sex Myth, you can begin smashing through those ‘shoulds’ and creating your best sex life — whatever that looks like for you.
4. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
by Esther Perel
Not sure why your sex life has changed over the course of your relationship? Mating in Captivity argues that you’re probably too comfortable with each other. The book challenges ideas about what makes a “good relationship,” only to free you up to create an amazing one instead. There are no tips, tricks or 12-step plans here. Instead, you’re pushed to examine your assumptions about intimacy, relationships and sexuality, add the mystery back in and find the uniquely perfect solution for your relationship. It’s tough love at its sexiest.
5. Women on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence
by Amy Jo Goddard
Sex is so much more than putting body parts on and in other body parts. It’s about knowing what you want and need, asking for that and embracing and accepting it. Woman on Fire helps you do just that in a different way: by starting with you and working from the inside out. Whether you struggle with low libido, need sexy new ideas or want to feel more comfortable with your desires, this book makes you question what you think you know and work toward accepting and loving it all.
6 and 7. Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man and She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
by Ian Kerner
This pair of books dives deep into how to please each other and, by extension, yourself. They teach you to give and receive amazing sex. Read one or both, and mark down the “OMG, yes” ideas you want to try. Then practice with your significant other or blow away that one night stand. Book 1, Book 2
8. Orgasm: Photographs and Interviews
by Linda Troeller and Marion Schneider
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one book on orgasms — and this one is particularly powerful. Rather than giving a list of ways to climax, Orgasm showcases the beautiful range of what orgasms really feel like. Twenty-five women of different ages, nationalities and social backgrounds show and tell what turns them on and gets them off. You’ll be reminded that “normal” doesn’t exist and that there really is something for everyone.
9. What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend
by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
When you feel comfortable in your body, it’s easier to get out of your head and into the moment so you can enjoy every yummy sensation. The first step to do that? Clear up any lingering questions about down there (and up top, too). You’ll laugh, cringe and feel totally validated by that not so weird quirk of yours. Just like Sex Made Easy, read it straight through or skip straight to the chapters you need the most.
10. My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging and Polyamory
by Cooper S. Beckett
Hear me out before you dismiss this one because you’re monogamous. Regardless of the type of relationship you’re in, this book will give you new ways to think about sex, relationships and communication. It’ll challenge what you think you know about non-monogamy, reaffirm that your desires are 100 percent normal and teach you how to improve any relationship — monogamous or otherwise. As long as you don’t get turned off by sexy writing or swear words, it’s a must read.
11. Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm
by Mara Altman
OK, make that two books on orgasm! In a society that tells us they’re the ultimate goal of all sex, we need all reminders that not everyone has them and they don’t always happen the way you expect them to. Altman is the big sister you never had, lovingly smacking down your preconceived notions about what orgasms really require.
12. Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us
by Jesse Bering
A bit heavier on the science than the others but a fun intro into the world of kink and fetishes nonetheless, Perv will remind you two vital truths about sex. First, there’s nothing you want to do that hasn’t already been done, and second, no matter what you want to try, there’s probably someone out there willing to try it with you.
13. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
by Gary Chapman
This one’s a total classic for one big reason — it transforms your relationship. By understanding what means the most to your sweetie and to yourself, you can better support each other in the bedroom and out. Knowing your partner prefers physical touch while you crave words of affirmation means you’ll fight less and feel more connected and appreciated. If that’s not a recipe for great sex, I don’t know what is.
You can read more about sex and relationships on my site Passion By Kait.