17 Books That'll Make You Better In Bed
We'd all love to be our best, most confident selves — in bed and out. But the truth is that everyone has their baggage and hangups. Some of us are insecure because of prior scenarios in relationships, or simply due to being in untried waters. If you feel this way, you're 100 percent not alone. Wipe the sweat from your brow.
What that all boils down to? It means that not all of us are as good in bed as we'd like to be.
The nice thing, however, is that many of the aspects of the mating game are a skill, and can be taught, nurtured, or improved. So like with any life skill we desire improving, the answer may be to study. That's right — you can turn to books! Read up on some of these titles below to get tips, tricks, and peeks into the psychology behind what drives your sex drive, and you may find the way you approach what happens between the sheets can shift in ways you never imagined. These books by Esther Perel, Christopher Ryan, Jaclyn Friedman, and others will give you a whole bunch of new ideas to mull over:
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan
A lot of how we relate to each other — in bed and out — is all about human nature. This book delves deep into the science behind our interactions, using spins on conventional wisdom to show us how to be better at loving — and better lovers while we're at it.
Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
You've likely heard her podcast, seen her TED talks, or read articles about her, but have you read Esther Perel's books? In Mating In Captivity, the acclaimed therapist, writer, and thinker examines the challenges of maintaining desire in long-term relationships.
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — and How To Get It by Dr. Laurie Mintz
Much of mainstream media would have you believe that sex isn't sex unless someone's vagina is being penetrated by someone's penis. The problem is that most people with vaginas don't reach orgasm reliably with just penetration. That's where the clitoris comes in. In this guide to cliteracy (sorry), Dr. Laurie Mintz examines the history of the pleasure gap, explains the anatomy of the vagina, and offers techniques for great, clitoris-focused sex.
What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety by Jaclyn Friedman
Jaclyn Friedman – who co-edited the acclaimed anthology Yes Means Yes! with Jessica Valenti — presents a guide to defining your sexuality, even while inundated with messages from the world about how you should be, who you should love, and how you should love. This book might help you gain the confidence you need to be 100% true to yourself, in bed and outside of it.
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski Ph.D.
In this research-backed exploration of the sexuality of people with vaginas, Emily Nagoski stresses three points that can improve your sex life: Everyone's sexual response mechanisms are different, sex happens in a context, and you should focus on how you're feeling not on what you're doing. They're simple lessons, backed up by science, and they could change everything about your sex life.
The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
For some people, maintaining desire means pursuing polyamorous or open relationships. Updated in 2017, The Ethical Slut is a guide to all things poly and everything it encompasses: emotional honesty, mutually agreed upon boundaries, open communication, and more. Even if you don't want to open things up, the lessons of this book can be a good foundation for growth in your partnership.
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown
This isn't a book solely about how the erotic can change your sex life. This is a book about how the erotic can change everything about your life and the world around you. In these essays, author and editor adrienne maree brown posits that doing good can feel good, and that feeling good is a complex political topic, too.
The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure edited by Tristan Taormino, Constance Penley, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, and Mireille Miller-Young
In this collection, feminists in the adult industry and feminist porn scholars writes about porn — how people do it, film it, market it, consume it, and more. It may just help you rethink how sex functions in society, and help you figure out how sex functions in your life.
Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free by Wednesday Martin
In this exploration of female infidelity, author and researcher Wednesday Martin challenges societal notions about women who cheat. Drawing on the political and social history, Martin makes a powerful case about gender and sexual equality that might help you understand your own feelings about it all.
Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex — And the Truths They Reveal by Lux Alptraum
In Faking It, sex educator and former CEO of Fleshbot Lux Alptraum unpacks all the lies women tell about sex — how many partners they've had, whether or not they orgasmed, whether or not they've been sexually assaulted, etc. — and explores how they impact women's social status, safety, and pleasure. If you've ever lied about sex in any way, pick up this book and think about why.
Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism by Patricia Hill Collins
In this work of critical theory, Patricia Hill Collins examines how images of Black women and Black men often focus on hypersexuality, and calls for a reinvention of sexuality that's free from the constraints of racism. This isn't a guide to getting better; this is a guide to understanding how racism, classism, and structural inequality contribute to the ways sex is portrayed and, often, weaponized.
The Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana
The Kama Sutra has reached cult status, but how many of us have actually taken the time to read its hallowed pages? This is an ancient text, originally in Sanskrit, that shares the art of lovemaking and its connection not only to pleasure, but spiritual enlightenment.
Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure by Lynn Comella
In Vibrator Nation, Lynn Comella examines the social, historical, political, and cultural impact of sex-toy stores and the people who opened them. The entrepreneurs behind places like Eve's Garden and Babeland have doubled as social activists, and in this enlightening nonfiction book, Comella describes just how much that's changed people's sex lives.
The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of sexual Passion and Fulfillment by Jack Morin
This text analyzes many stories of sexual encounters, by means of demonstrations of how we can make our own relationships and encounters that much more explosive. Sometimes overcoming our hindrances and problems is simply a matter of examining our situation from a new, fresh perspective.
The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide For All of Us by Felice Newman
The first-ever sex guide written for women by women for the sexual passion between women (phew!), this is an amazing work for if you want to kick your sex life up a few notches and are looking for creative ideas!
Partners in Passion by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson
The co-authors of this work, a couple, are two teachers of tantric love and sex. They use their experience to illustrate the beauty of "giving and receiving" — in love, life, and in sex. They also discuss situations like open relationships and swinging, and how to know if this is the choice for your own relationship.
Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener
Unlike the other books on this list, Sexographies doesn't profess to be a guide to rethinking sex, sexuality, or the erotic. Rather, it's a collection of first-person essays by an Argentine journalist, Gabriela Wiener, who wanted to understand the messiness of the erotic. In pursuit of truth, she participated in sexual exchanges, went to swingers clubs with her husband, underwent an egg donation, and immersed herself in the kinks, obsessions, and sexual choices of other people.
This post was originally published on May 20, 2015. It was updated on June 5, 2019. Additional reporting by Cristina Arreola.