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Must Read Books on Sex & Sexuality

September 17, 2012

You know a conference turned you on when you come home with a reading list that would make you cry if you were still in college, but as an adult makes you think you will cancel all your plans for the next 3 months so you can read, in bed. I returned home from CatalystCon last night, a conference that gathered some amazing minds from all aspects of Sex and Sexuality to talk about how we further discussions on the subject, personally, professionally and politically. It was amazing, and I’ll write that up later. But for now, here are the books that I bought this weekend, and why you may not see me for 3 months.

The descriptions are all straight from Amazon.

America’s War on Sex – Marty Klein

Americans are more vulnerable today than ever to anxiety about sexual danger, to believing that their sexuality is not “normal” or moral, and to laws and public policies that restrict their rights, criminalize their consenting behavior, and confuse and miseducate their children. In the second edition of America’s War on Sex: The Continuing Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty, psychologist, sex therapist, and courtroom expert witness Marty Klein sets the record straight and uncovers how the “Sexual Disaster Industry” works—a powerful social and political propaganda machine that is supported by the very citizens it victimizes.

This book analyzes eight “battlegrounds” in which America’s War on Sex is being fought and examines how each one is the focus of an unrelenting struggle to regulate sexuality in direct contradiction to our Constitutional guarantees, scientific fact, and the needs of average Americans. Klein places these various attacks on our rights in historical context, explains how the money and political power are coordinated from the same sources, and shows how the Religious Right inflames Americans’ anxiety about sexuality even as it proposes repressive schemes to reduce that anxiety. This book tackles a sensitive and volatile topic head-on, addressing how the political, social, historical, religious, and emotional issues surrounding public policy interfaces with sexuality as no other work has before.

The Ultimate Guide To Prostate Pleasure – Charlie Glickman

The “discovery” of the G-spot opened up an era of sexual expansion for millions of women. Just as G-spot exploration forever transformed women’s experience of orgasm, The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners offers men erotic pleasure beyond what they imagined possible. Men who may not feel confident exploring anal play will be empowered to claim the prostate as an erogenous zone ripe for exploration. And men who already enjoy prostate play will find much to learn from sex educators Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., and Aislinn Emirzian, whose wisdom and warmth will be both reassuring and inspirational to readers. The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners supports all men who want to explore this powerful source of sexual fulfillment—both curious and seasoned adventurers who are ready to put their ass on the line for erotic enjoyment.

Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Kids From Sex – Judith Levine

Judith Levine’s controversial book challenges American attitudes towards child and adolescent sexuality-especially attitudes promulgated by a Christian right that has effectively seized control of how sex is taught in public schools. The author-a thoughtful and persuasive journalist and essayist-examines the consequences of “abstinence” only education and its concomitant association of sex with disease, and the persistent denial of pleasure. She notes the trend toward pathologizing young children’s eroticized play and argues that Americans should rethink the boundaries we draw in protecting our children from sex. This powerful and illuminating work was nominated for the 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships  – Ogi Ogas & Si Gaddam
Want to know what really turns your partner on? A Billion Wicked Thoughts offers the clearest picture ever of the differences between male and female sexuality and the teeming diversity of human desire. What makes men attracted to images and so predictable in their appetites? What makes the set up to a romantic evening so important for a woman? Why are women’s desires so hard to predict? Neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam reveal the mechanics of sexual relationships based on their extensive research into the mountains of new data on human behavior available in online entertainment and traffic around the world. Not since Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s has there been such a revolution in our knowledge of what is really going on in the bedroom. What Ogas and Gaddam learned, and now share, will deepen and enrich the way you, and your partner, think and talk about sex.

Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion – Virgie Tovar

In this fun, fresh, fat-positive anthology, fat activist and sex educator Virgie Tovar brings together voices from an often-marginalized community to talk about and celebrate their lives. Hot & Heavy rejects the idea that being thin is best, instead embracing the many fabulous aspects of being fat—building fat-positive spaces, putting together fat-friendly wardrobes, turning society’s rules into personal politics, and creating supportive, inclusive communities. Writers, activists, performers, and poets—including April Flores, Alysia Angel, Charlotte Cooper, Jessica Judd, Emily Anderson, Genne Murphy, and Tigress Osborn—cover everything from fat go-go dancing to queer dating to urban gardening in their essays, exploring their experiences with the word “fat,” pinpointing particular moments that have impacted the way they think and feel about their bodies, and telling the story of how they each became fat revolutionaries.

Ground-breaking and long overdue, Hot & Heavy is a fierce, sassy, thoughtful, authentic, and joyous collection of stories about unapologetically—and unconditionally—loving the body you’re in.

Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890 – 1940 – George Chauncey

Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self-hating. Based on years of research and access to a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, this book is a fascinating portrait of a gay world that is not supposed to have existed.

Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasy – Michael Bader

In this fascinating and provocative book, Dr. Michael Bader offers a groundbreaking new theory of sexual desire. Drawing on his twenty-five years as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, Dr. Bader demonstrates that rather than being programmed by biology or society, sexual fantasies and preferences are really psychological antidotes to unconscious dangers. Armed with this novel theory, man and women will no longer need to feel ashamed about what arouses them or confused about what arouses others.

Naked At Our Age – Joan Price

Joan Price is talking out loud about a subject that is often ignored or ridiculed in our society: later-life sexuality. Naked at Our Age is a candid, straight-talking book addressing senior sexuality in all its colors—the challenges, the disappointments, and the surprises, as well as the delights and the love stories. Naked at Our Age gives real-life people over fifty a voice to tell stories of their past and present sex lives, ask questions, and get straightforward advice and information from experts. No topic related to elder sexuality is off-limits.

In Naked at Our Age, women and men—coupled and single, straight and gay—talk candidly about how their sex lives and relationships have changed with age, and about how they see themselves, their partners, or their single life. Many of them are having unsatisfying sex, or no sex at all, and are seeking advice. Price presents their personal stories, and follows up with tips from sex therapists, health professionals, counselors, sex educators, and other knowledgeable experts. Naked at Our Age is an entertaining and indispensable guide to handling and understanding the issues of senior sex and relationships.

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex & Science – Mary Roach

Roach is not like other science writers. She doesn’t write about genes or black holes or Schrödinger’s cat. Instead, she ventures out to the fringes of science, where the oddballs ponder how cadavers decay (in her debut, Stiff) and whether you can weigh a person’s soul (in Spook). Now she explores the sexiest subject of all: sex, and such questions as, what is an orgasm? How is it possible for paraplegics to have them? What does woman want, and can a man give it to her if her clitoris is too far from her vagina? At times the narrative feels insubstantial and digressive (how much do you need to know about inseminating sows?), but Roach’s ever-present eye and ear for the absurd and her loopy sense of humor make her a delectable guide through this unesteemed scientific outback. The payoff comes with subjects like female orgasm (yes, it’s complicated), and characters like Ahmed Shafik, who defies Cairo’s religious repressiveness to conduct his sex research. Roach’s forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction.

* Note: I’ve read this a couple times and LOVE it as a lens through which to understand the historical perspective on how sex has been pahtologized throughout history. Buying it again because I keep loaning to people and not getting it back.

NOW, the important question: WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-READ BOOKS?  Tell us. Let’s make a great list!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2012 8:02 am

    Do add Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex to your list! I know, I’m the author so I’m biased — but it won Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the 2012 Book Award from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) — so I’m not the only one praising it!

  2. Sadie Brooks permalink
    September 17, 2012 9:53 am

    A few more books from some of the other sessions:

    Dr. Tammy Nelson is releasing a new book next month called “The New Monogamy”

    Jaiya is releasing a new book in January called “The 5 Stages of Sexuality”

    They both talked about the content in their sessions…great stuff!!

  3. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    September 17, 2012 10:56 am

    Joan, I am embarrassed that I forgot that one! THANK YOU! I was going through my lame hand-written notes from the conference! As a woman of “a certain age,” I totally appreciate what you’re doing! Added!

  4. September 17, 2012 11:12 am

    Thank you! Love your list (even more now!).

  5. September 18, 2012 9:10 am

    Yknow I have a piece in “Hot and Heavy” which informed my panel on fat sex work? 😉

  6. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    September 19, 2012 8:01 pm

    I didn’t know that until you said it in the panel. 🙂 But we did a show with Virgie – who is so awesome – and I’ve been excited for this book to come out since then! In general, I just don’t think that these things are discussed enough….. I can’t wait to read it!

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