Sexual education. It seems that no matter how great or thorough the curriculum your eighth grade phys ed/health/science teacher used there’s still something you have questions about. Maybe it’s because your educator focused on cisgender straight folks. Maybe it’s because you overheard someone at brunch mention a body part that you didn’t even know existed. Whatever the reason we’ve all got questions and thankfully there are books to give us some answers. To get you started here are four books about topics that might not have been covered back in eighth grade.
Girl Sex 101 (Allison Moon and kd diamond)
When Girl Sex 101 came out earlier this year it felt like everyone but my grandmother was talking about it. I finally got a copy last week and now I get what all the hubbub was about. Allison Moon’s anecdotal, warm writing style combined with kd diamond’s bold illustrations come together to create a smart and accessible guide that covers a whole wide range of topics from safer-sex to harnesses to consent. On both personal and professional notes I appreciate Moon’s commitment to including trans women in a book about girl/girl sex. While her effort to be inclusive did at times produce some awkward phrasing this book is miles ahead of most of its competitors; in part because she places cis and trans experiences together instead of putting trans women in one chapter and focusing the rest of the book on cis women. Short essays from other educators and activists (such as Tobi Hill-Meyer, Nina Hartley, and Claudia Astorino) are sprinkled throughout.
Fucking Trans Women: A Zine About The Sex Lives Of Trans Women (Mira Bellweather)
I’m going to skip over my whole “READING THIS WAS A WAVE OF WONDERFUL REAFFIRMING EMOTIONS”-spiel and just give you the facts: Originally published as a zine FTW was the first book (or at least the first I can find that gained wide recognition) to address the sex lives of trans women. Part how-to guide, part philosophizing on sex and bodies this book addresses questions that I, an actual transsexual lady, didn’t even know I had. If you enjoy FTW you’ll be happy to hear that there’s a second volume of the zine that’s supposed to be showing up sometime soon.
This is not the first time Come As You Are has been recommended on Book Riot but I’m just going to bring it back because it has so much great information packed into it. In light, jargon-free language Nagoski tackles cultural assumptions about how women’s brains react to sex and offers up new ways of understanding sex drive, arousal, and more. As you read Come As You Are, Nagoski’s years as an educator really come through as she works to break things down into easy to understand pieces with examples, analogies, and quick worksheets that come together to give us a better understanding of our bodies and our sexual identities. (I am going to add that this book is built on studies and experiments done with cisgender women which may be frustrating for some readers. Nagoski does acknowledge the way in which research has focused on cis women but I’ll allow the trans readers out there to decide for themselves how they feel about her language and framing.)
The Seductive Art of Japanese Rope Bondage (Midori and Craig Morey)
For many people who are looking to include ropework in their sex lives, the beautiful and intricate suspensions and knots found online can make this art seem like a daunting challenge. Thankfully, Midori is here to breakdown that fear and get us started. When people come into the sensuality shop I work at looking to get started with rope I have no hesitation about putting this book into their hands. Midori is a widely acknowledged expert in her field who has years of experience with safe and gorgeous rope bondage. She starts off the book with a thorough introduction that situates this art in a historical context and makes it clear that with The Seductive Art of Japanese Rope Bondage she’s offering a guide to practical rope bondage that the reader can use at home. While this book won’t make you a master of rope bondage, it will teach you the basics, give you some fun new things to incorporate into your sex life, and help you build a strong foundation to continue upon.