9 Memoirs About Not Having Sex

Is not having sex the new having sex? These memoirs explore the intricacies of abstaining, by choice and otherwise.

Is not having sex the new having sex? These memoirs explore the intricacies of abstaining, by choice and otherwise.

'Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin' by Nicole Hardy

Based on her New York Times Modern Love column, Hardy tells of the growing tension between her Mormon upbringing and desire for a life outside the confines of marriage and motherhood. As the gap between her longing and the stricture’s of her church widens, she explores what true intimacy means, and whether love and sex can — and should — exist separately. This is a different, and powerful, take on single life that will challenge readers of various faiths about the value of human connection in their lives.

'The Art of Sleeping Alone' by Sophie Fontanel

In very short chapters, the French Elle editor explores her 12 years of celibacy in minimalist phrasing. Though she never calls it "rape," an encounter at age 13 with an older man clearly haunts her. For Fontanel, her journey isn't just about sleeping alone, but traveling and living independently, free of society's norms, even its most cosmopolitan ones. She makes being alone seem not lonely, but rather, an opportunity to learn about herself and more closely observe those around her.

'Chastened: The Unexpected Story of My Year without Sex' by Hephzibah Anderson

A broken heart leads British journalist Anderson to declare sex off the table for a year. In the process, she still dates, explores past loves as well as fashion, flirting and expectations. Although some would argue that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone new, the opposite route gives Anderson room to reflect on what she truly wants out of love and sex.

'Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin' by Paul Feig

The Freaks and Geeks creator shares what happens when you grow up believing that every time you masturbate God takes a day off your life. The result is often hilarious, for the reader if not Feig; at 18, he refuses a blowjob, lest the act prove too messy. His attempt to perform fellatio on himself comes with a warning not to read it, but do yourself a favor and do so anyway.

'House of Cards' by David Ellis Dickerson

The subtitle The True Story of How a 26-Year-Old Fundamentalist Virgin Learned about Life, Love, and Sex by Writing Greeting Cards First might seem to say it all, but this humorous memoir is also bittersweet. Dickerson intersperses tales of working at Hallmark with dating his fiancee for six years without sex.

'The V Society: The True Story of Rebel Virgin-Girls' by Adele Berry

Berry exhaustively chronicles her college years, along with those of her pack of friends who form the V (for virgin) Society. Although the details often read more like a college journal or guide to the University of Pennsylvania, Berry changes up the virgin memoir game by embracing both Christianity and the joy of ogling male eye candy.

'The Thrill of the Chaste' by Dawn Eden

Part memoir, part call to arms, groupie-turned-Christian Dawn Eden encourages her readers to follow her lead by "finding fulfillment while keeping your clothes on." Eden sets off on her "chastity kick" after finding sex as a single 30-something New Yorker left her unfulfilled and, in her view, farther from the goal of marriage. While provocative in its arguments against Cosmo and Planned Parenthood, Eden does reveal how chastity gave her a brighter outlook on dating and self-esteem.

'Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity' by Anna Broadway

Blogger Broadway describes herself as a "romantiholic," who interviews for a job as an assistant at Harlequin — all the better to follow her dream of being "the virgin who wrote convincing sex scenes." Yet life proves more complicated than those of her fictional heroines, and Broadway grapples with bad dates, mixed messages and her own ups and downs when it comes to faith in what the East Bay Express called "intellectual chick-lit."

'I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido' by Joan Sewell

Sewell opens with a powerful salvo: "If I had a choice between reading a good book and having sex, the book wins." Sewell tackles head on the presumption that more sex means a happier life, arguing for quality over quantity. Sewell isn’t against sex, but she is opposed to the cultural pressure on women to say yes, no matter what they’d rather be doing. She questions the nature of “sexual dysfunction” and tackles how she and her husband handled the disparity of their differing sex drives. Rather than sex being an all or nothing proposition, she offers a more realistic, of hard-won, alternative.