The Best Sex Books

The recent years have been big for sex-positive publishing from the printed press. New alt sex publisher ThreeL Media hit the ground running in 2015 to explore sexuality with intellectualism and heart. Sex education saw creativity and excellence, and academia gained a whole new syllabus of books on porn scholarship. Here’s a few books that either dive head-first into sex work and sexuality, or include enough of the subject to stand out as excellent additions to your sexuality bookshelf.

Sex Work Anthologies and Stories

SPREAD Anthology $pread Anthology
Independently published from 2005 to 2011, this collection from $pread features enduring essays about sex work around the world, 1st person stories that range from deeply traumatic to totally hilarious, analysis of media and culture, and fantastic illustrations and photos produced just for the magazine. What started as a community tool and trade magazine for the sex industry quickly emerged as the essential guide for people curious about sex work, for independent magazine enthusiasts, and for labor and civil rights activists. [Order Now]
Coming Out Like a Porn Star Cover Coming Out Like a Porn Star
While some denounce pornography as immoral and others praise its sex-positive liberation, the ways performers “come out” about doing porn — or the great lengths we take to avoid it — is an honest, nuanced depiction of how society views those at the public frontline of sexuality. Coming Out Like a Porn Star presents over 50 first-hand accounts, ranging from funny to fucked up, as well as practical tips and personal anecdotes. [Order Now (from editor Jiz Lee!)] Related resource: Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue.
Nikki Silver’s photos are feminist and defiant, and entirely unlike any portraits you have ever seen. Unshaven is a fine art photography book celebrating women who do not shave their body hair. With essays and passages by Tina Horn, Jiz Lee, Harley Hex, Cinnamon Maxxine, Maggie Mayhem, Sadie Lune, Joey Minx, and Princess Puffy Bush. [Order Now (from contributor Jiz Lee!)]
Love Not Given Lightly: Profiles from the Edge of Sex Love Not Given Lightly: Profiles from the Edge of Sex
Love Not Given Lightly is the first collection of nonfiction stories from award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and advocate Tina Horn. In her vast experience in sexual undergrounds, Tina has befriended pro-dommes, porn stars, kinky fetishists, rent boys, and more. Instead of writing a sex worker memoir, she opted to tell the stories of the people she met along the way. Illuminating human issues of desire, gender, beauty, and ultimately friendship, the stories in this book will do no less than alter the way you think about modern sexuality in America. [Order Now]
Best Sex Writing of the Year Best Sex Writing of the Year: On Consent, BDSM, Porn, Race, Sex Work and More
This first volume of Best Sex Writing of the Year features a number of significant bloggers and some of the most important stories of the past two years. Alexandria Goddard is the blogger who made the important connections in the historic Steubenville Rape Case; Lux Alptraum recently sold the wildly successful Fleshbot and took an editorial position at Nerve. Jiz Lee raises exasperated hands to the ongoing ban of fisting in porn. These contributors (and many others) know the words that sell online, and their presence in this collection will carry tremendous weight with readers. [Order Now]
Prose and Lore Prose and Lore
Prose & Lore is the Red Umbrella Project’s literary journal, which collects memoir stories about sex work in two issues per year. The stories are original to Prose & Lore, and about 75% of the authors in each issue are previously unpublished. Many of the contributors participate in our memoir workshops and drop-in writing sessions. [Order Now]
Darklady’s Carnal Archives and Mesmerizing Hate Mail
Everyone has tawdry ideas about the adult entertainment industry. Darklady’s Carnal Archives and Mesmerizing Hate Mail is a first-hand look at the players, the toys, the videos, the life. Here is a collection of columns from the 1990s and beyond, along with the lovely hate mail they inspired, that will make you laugh out loud, bang your fist on the table, and educate you about things you didn’t even realize existed. Always strange, even when it’s mundane, this book will keep you in stitches, tears, and rage. Prepare for a roller coaster of a ride. [Order Now]
My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory
Starting with a first date with a couple of swingers, My Life on the Swingset chronicles the education of Cooper Beckett as he works through social anxiety and shyness, recognizing the importance of touch in life, evolving feelings about love and expectations, having threesomes, orgies, and prostate orgasms, going through a divorce, and leveling up in life and sexuality. [Order Now]
Drawing Blood
In language that is fresh, visceral, and deeply moving—and illustrations that are irreverent and gorgeous—Drawing Blood is a memoir that will change the way you think about art, sex, politics, and survival in our times. After a restless childhood on New York’s Long Island, Molly Crabapple left America to see Europe and the Near East, a young artist plunging into unfamiliar cultures, notebook always in hand, drawing what she observed. With a blend of honesty, fierce insight, and indelible imagery that is her signature, Molly offers her own story: an unforgettable memoir of artistic exploration, political awakening, and personal transformation. [Order Now]

Porn Studies

New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law
Why do people use pornography? Is porn addiction a fact or myth? What is revenge porn and is it illegal? Can pornography be more diverse? This interdisciplinary collection presents well-researched facts and up-to-date data that encourage informed discussion about controversial and relevant issues in contemporary society. Chapters address topics such as the history and cultural trends of pornography, labor and production practices in creating porn, the effects of technology, current issues in obscenity law, and myths and facts about the effects of pornography. [Order Now]
Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment
In Exposure, Chauntelle Tibbals, PhD, exposes readers to one of the most mysterious businesses and significant subcultures shaping our modern world – porn. Like it or not, adult entertainment partially shapes who we are as a society. And we as a society help shape it right back. Porn takes on our sexual desires and dreams, often in ways that we’re uncomfortable with. [Order Now]
Global Information Society Watch 2015: Sexual rights and the internet Global Information Society Watch 2015: Sexual rights and the internet
The 2015 edition presents eight thematic reports and 57 country reports from around the world on how the politics of sex and sexual rights activism takes place online. While these reports seem to indicate that the internet does help in the expression and defense of sexual rights, they also show that in some contexts this potential is under threat – whether through the active use of the internet by conservative and reactionary groups, or through threats of harassment and violence. This contributes to global debates on what is “harmful” sexual content, what is “legitimate” sexual expression, and who gets to decide. [Order Now]
Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be
During the sex wars of the 1980s, sex-positive feminism entered the adult film industry with a performer support group known as Club 90. Over the next three decades feminism found a home among an influential group of women in pornography. Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be is a popular history of this unfolding saga told largely through personal interviews along with scholarly works, previous popular histories, and film reviews. [Order Now]
Pornography: Structures, Agency and Performance (Key Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies) Pornography: Structures, Agency and Performance (Key Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies)
Written for a broad audience and grounded in cutting-edge, contemporary scholarship, this book addresses some of the key questions asked about pornography today and places the arguments from conservative and radical anti-porn activists against the challenges coming from a new generation of feminist and queer porn performers and educators. Combining sensitive and detailed discussion of case studies with careful attention to the voices of those working in pornography, it provides scholars, activists and those hoping to find new ways of understanding sexuality with the first overview of the histories and futures of pornography. [Order Now]

Sex Education

Come As You Are Cover Come As You Are
An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never exist—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few year have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all. [Order Now]
Oh Joy Sex Toy Volume 2 Cover Oh Joy Sex Toy Volume 2
This volume collects the second year’s worth of content from the weekly comic Oh Joy Sex Toy, covering all kinds of sex in the form of toy reviews, education pieces, interviews and more. With Erika Moen’s positivity, puns and diverse cast, Volume Two is an indispensable resource for anybody exploring comics or their own sexuality. In addition to Erika’s work, almost a third of the book is dedicated to other comics artists, adding their unique voices and comics to the book. With a few bonus comics and some behind-the-scenes stuff exclusive to the book. [Order Now] Or pre-order via Kickstarter Oh Joy Sex Toy Volume 3!
Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU
A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8-10 as well as their caregivers. Much more than the “the birds and the bees,” it opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy. [Order Now]
Girl Sex 101 Girl Sex 101
A sex-ed book like no other, Girl Sex 101 offers helpful info for ladies and lady-lovers of all genders and identities, with playful and informative illustrations on each page and over 100 distinct voices… plus a hot narrative that shows you how to put the info to good use! Learn how to navigate the twists and turns of female sexuality, with special guidance from thirteen guest sex educators including Nina Hartley, Sex Nerd Sandra, Jiz Lee, Tristan Taormino, Julia Serano, Reid Mihalko, Kelly Shibari! [Order Now]
Prose and Lore Cover The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone
Drawing on Good Vibrations’ diverse customer interactions plus Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen’s academic training and community experience, THE Sex & Pleasure Book delivers the most informative and empowering sex information book bar none. Covering sexual changes across identity, sexual anatomy, and sex toys, this ambitious compendium aims to inform and inspire sexual comfort and exploration! Co-Authored and edited by Shar Rednour. [Order Now]

Out in 2014

While 2015 saw a rise in sex worker’s published words, there is still such a lack of works that it is worth it to include books from the past year that deserve recognition.

Feminist_Porn_cover The Feminist Porn Book
Bringing together for the first time writings by feminists in the adult industry and research by feminist porn scholars, The Feminist Porn Book book investigates not only how feminists understand pornography, but also how feminists do porn—that is, direct, act in, produce, and consume one of the world’s most lucrative and growing industries. [Order Now (from contributor Jiz Lee!)]
A Taste for Brown Sugar
A Taste for Brown Sugar boldly takes on representations of black women’s sexuality in the porn industry based on Mireille Miller-Young’s extensive archival research and her interviews with dozens of women who have worked in the adult entertainment industry since the 1980s. The women share their thoughts about desire and eroticism, black women’s sexuality and representation, and ambition and the need to make ends meet. Building on the work of other black feminist theorists, and contributing to the field of sex work studies, Miller-Young wants the voices of black women sex workers heard, and the decisions they make to be recognized as their own. [Order Now]
Sex Workers Unite
A provocative history that reveals how sex workers have been at the vanguard of social justice movements for the past fifty years while building a movement of their own that challenges our ideas about labor, sexuality, feminism, and freedom. Documenting five decades of sex-worker activism, Sex Workers Unite is a fresh history that places prostitutes, hustlers, escorts, call girls, strippers, and porn stars in the center of America’s major civil rights struggles. Although their presence has largely been ignored and obscured, Melinda Chateauvert recasts sex workers as savvy political organizers—not as helpless victims in need of rescue. [Order Now]
Playing the Whore
In Playing the Whore, journalist Melissa Gira Grant turns these pieties on their head, arguing for an overhaul in the way we think about sex work. Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in her experience as an organizer, advocate, and former sex worker, she dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, criticizes both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization, and argues that separating sex work from the “legitimate” economy only harms those who perform sexual labor. Sex workers’ demands, too long relegated to the margins, take center stage: sex work is work, and sex workers’ rights are human rights. [Order Now]

Out in 2016

Truth, Justice, and the American Whore
Confessions of the Whore Next Door features striking images of and probing words by the quintessentially American whore! Wrapped in the American flag, stating opinions that your mother likely won’t approve, constructing arguments that will make you blush, Siouxsie Q is a storyteller of the first order, and her stories embody sex appeal, political activism, and good humor! [Order Now]
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Beyond Victims and Villains
The domestic sex trafficking of minors is a problem of growing concern yet little critical attention. This book analyzes the forces behind the sex-trafficking industry in the United States and provides a much-needed reference for practitioners. It considers the experiences of both those who “choose” sex work and those who are forced into it by circumstances or third parties, and it discusses the networks of friends and close acquaintances who introduce newcomers to the trade. Urging policymakers and practitioners to move beyond the simple framework of “rescuing” victims and “punishing” villains, this book calls for policies and programs that focus on the failure of social and cultural systems and respond better to the young people caught in this web. [Order Now]
Carnal Anomaly: Transhuman Form and Flesh
Carnal Anomaly is a fine art photography book by Maxwell Lander that poses the question, what if the human body were an artifice, an artifact, or a tool? With the aid of dramatic lighting, striking contrasts of color, and provocative poses, these brilliant color photographs re-envision the human body through stunning portrayals of fetish, BDSM, and body modification. [Order Now]
To Live Freely in This World: Sex Worker Activism in Africa
To Live Freely in This World is the first book to tell the story of the brave activists at the beating heart of the sex workers’ rights movement in Africa—the newest and most vibrant face of the global sex workers’ rights struggle. African sex worker activists are proving that communities facing human rights abuses are not bereft of agency, challenging politicians, religious fundamentalists, and anti-prostitution advocates; confronting the multiple stigmas that affect the diverse members of their communities; engaging in intersectional movement building with similarly marginalized groups; and participating in the larger global sex workers’ rights. [Order Now]

Not on the list? Leave a reply in the comments! (Note: this list skips the plethora of erotica books, but here’s a quick nod to powerhouse author and erotic book editors Violet Blue and Rachel Kramer Bussel.)

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