RESOURCES

Books, Videos, Podcasts, and other resources to help you level up your sexual knowledge

Over the past thirty years, I’ve collected hundreds of books, videos, and other resources for learning about sex. Many of the creators of these works have been guests on my online radio show Love, Lust & Laughter, hosted on Progressive Radio Network. Here are some of the best, most trusted resources I’ve found.

 

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Advice From a Sex Therapist

for Couples in Quarantine

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BOOKS

 

How-To Sex Guides

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Paul Joannides

This is the first book I recommend to my clients. It’s possibly the best book ever written about sex. This comprehensive book is a fun read, filled with entertaining illustrations and detailed, hands-on information about all kinds of sexual practices. I have a PhD in Human Sexuality, I’ve worked more than 30 years as a sex therapist, and I’ve also had a lot of sexual experience…and I still learned a lot from Paul’s guide! Rolling Stone Magazine called it “the only sex manual you’ll ever need!”

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Michael Castleman

Michael Castleman is the nation’s top journalist specializing in men’s sexuality. Learn from this excellent guide and your partner will sing your sexual praises. Also, check out Michael’s popular blog on www.PsychologyToday.com, and look for his forthcoming book Great Sex Guidance. You can hear several conversations with Michael in the archives of my Love, Lust & Laughter program.

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Nina Hartley

This is a well-written and wide-ranging tour of the varieties of sexual activities that humans engage in, with lots of practical how-to information. In addition to chapters on the basics (foreplay, oral sex, intercourse), the book includes sections on toys, threesomes, BDSM play, and more. Nina Hartley has performed in more than a thousand porn films in a career spanning more than three decades, so she knows what she’s talking about. Her enduring star power is complemented by her articulate work as a sex educator.

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Sheri Winston and Carl Frankel

Do you dream of becoming an erotic virtuoso? You’ll find answers in Sheri and Carl’s visionary, practical guide to whole and empowered sex. In my favorite chapter, Sheri spells out “The Six P’s of Touch”: PRESENCE: Be present. Touch here now. PURPOSE: Hold a positive intention. PATIENCE: Don’t rush; take your time. PRECISION: Be accurate and focused. (Body painting each other can be a fun game!) PATTERN: Think musically and artistically—use rhythm, themes and motifs. PROGRESSION: Keep it moving and coherent. Follow Sheri’s tips for more playful sex so that you can develop your own “sexcraft” toolkit.

Carol Queen, PhD, with Shar Rednour

This book draws on the vast and diverse experience of the customers of Good Vibrations, the legendary feminist adult toy store founded in San Francisco in 1977. Back then the store made waves with its focus on sex education and women’s pleasure. Today, Dr. Carol Queen is the Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist. She is extremely knowledgeable—informing and inspiring sexual comfort and exploration.

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Ian Kerner, PhD

As the book jacket says, most men are “ill-cliterate”—totally ignorant about what lies under the hood of a woman’s clitoris, let alone what to do with it to facilitate her orgasm. Unfortunately, far too many women don’t understand their own anatomy, either. And even if they do, they’re conditioned by society to prioritize men’s pleasure and settle for a lifetime of unsatisfying sex. This book demystifies the vulva and offers dozens of practical tips to help her come…and keep her coming back for more!

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Lori A. Brotto, PhD

Mindfulness is essential for good sex (as I detail in Chapter 3 of this book). You’ve got to stay in the moment. That’s easier said than done these days, even when there’s no pandemic to contend with. Dr. Lori Brotto has pioneered the use of mindfulness in treating sexual problems—helping thousands of women to overcome issues such as low desire or arousal, and to have more and better sex.

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Emily Nagoski, PhD

The author, a researcher focused on women’s well-being, discusses her experiences working with women who wonder: “Am I normal?” (Spoiler alert: the answer is almost always yes.) In this vital work based on recent breakthroughs in brain science, Nagoski dispels many of the myths about female sexual arousal. Through entertaining vignettes of four women struggling to make their arousal cycles work for them, this book provides practical advice on navigating common libido responses to stress, mood, and trust.

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Marty Klein, PhD

What do we really want from sex? In this book, sex therapist and Psychology Today columnist Marty Klein delves deep into the whys and hows of sexual arousal and desire, explaining that shifting how you think about sex is far more important than anything you actually do in the bedroom.

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Lou Paget

All bodies come equipped with the tools for orgasm, yet without proper education and opportunities to practice, many people never successfully achieve the synergy of mind, body, and spirit needed to release this unique and revelatory experience. Lou Paget, a sex researcher and author of eight books, shows everyone, regardless of your gender or equipment, how to bring your partner to high sexual delights and delicious orgasms.

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Ava Cadell, PhD

Sex is play. Too many couples forget that. As I detailed in Chapter 6, maintaining a sense of playfulness and fun is one of the keys to a healthy relationship. Ava Cadell’s fun little book is full of ideas to help you spice things up with your lover, including tips for sexy foreplay, erotic foods, dirty talk, sensual massage, fantasy role-playing games, and more.

 

Sex & Relationships

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Esther Perel

New York-based psychotherapist Esther Perel highlights the central issue that plagues every long-term relationship: the tension between our needs for safety and security on the one hand, and novelty and freedom on the other. In other words, the longer we spend together with a partner, the more secure we feel in a relationship, but the more we tend to get bored, to lose the sense of mystery and discovery that drew us together in the first place…and the more likely we are to stray outside the relationship in search of novelty and freedom. Using examples from her own therapy practice, Perel offers practical ways you can regain and maintain that sense of novelty and mystery, and see your partner again with new eyes. Required reading for every long-term couple.

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David Schnarch, PhD

Differentiation is the cornerstone theory of Passionate Marriage. Differentiation involves learning to balance your individuality (separateness) with your emotional connection to someone else (togetherness). Standing on your own two feet—rather than trying to merge with your partner or lose yourself in love—may lead to the best sex you’ve ever had. “Sex gets better, not worse, as you get older,” declares Schnarch. “Great sex is not about how your body looks or how you position it. It’s about your frame of mind and emotional connection with your partner.”

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Stephen Snyder, M.D.

Can erotic love last? Yes, says my friend Stephen Snyder. And in this latest book, the good doctor shows you how. Over his three-decade career as a psychiatrist focused on sex therapy, he has worked with more than 1,500 clients. Stephen has collected a wealth of practical insights into what it takes for couples to maintain a healthy sexual connection. Read this sensible guide to learn the hidden rules for great sex.

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Lori Buckley, PhD

Decisions, decisions. Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly making choices that affect yourself and the people around you—especially your romantic partner. This short book by Dr. Lori Buckley, a frequent guest on my online radio show, gives practical guidance to help you envision your ideal relationship and empower you to make more mindful, conscious decisions to move toward that goal.

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Jack Morin, PhD

Written in 1980, The Erotic Mind is a foundational work in the sexual literary canon. Author Jack Morin interviewed more than a thousand people, asking participants to describe their peak sexual experiences and fantasies, and discovered some surprising commonalities. He turned these findings—that anger, guilt and anxiety can powerfully affect our libidos—into a simple formula for tapping into your desires: attraction + obstacles = excitement.

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Stella Resnick, PhD

How do you keep love and lust alive in a long-term relationship? The key, according to Stella Resnick (a longtime friend and mentor of mine and author of the classic The Pleasure Zone), is to prioritize pleasure and playfulness. This excellent book includes Dr. Stella’s 10-Step Loving Sex Program, a practical method for deepening your sense of intimacy and erotic connection.

David Deida

This classic text offers practical lessons for men struggling to navigate the perennial challenges of women, work, and sexual desire. “It is time to evolve beyond the macho jerk ideal, all spine and no heart,” Deida writes. “It is also time to evolve beyond the sensitive and caring wimp ideal, all heart and no spine.” This book provides powerful insights that can help all men tap into their sense of purpose to be more passionate, caring, and grounded in all realms of life and relationships.

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James Herriot, PhD, and Oona Mourier, PhD

There’s more than one way to be a great lover. You could be any one of the nine sexual archetypes so skillfully described by these authors. Are you an Innocent? An Adventurer? A Revealer? A Nurturer? Delve into your archetype and explore some juicy exercises to strengthen your best qualities. This framework is also a great tool for understanding and healing sexual incompatibilities.

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Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

According to our standard cultural narrative, the dominant relationship model—long-term monogamous coupling—is not only morally right, it’s determined by evolution. Authors Ryan and Jethá turn that narrative on its head, utilizing recent findings in anthropology, archaeology, primatology, evolution, and psychobiology to make the case that monogamy is actually a recent development in human history: it has been common only since the widespread adoption of agriculture about 5,000 years ago. Before that, they argue, humans evolved for tens of thousands of years in nomadic tribal groups where survival required extreme cooperation and sharing of everything—from food to child-rearing to sexual partners. They explore how these insights into our evolution from promiscuous, horny apes can help us better understand our desires and navigate modern relationships with less stress and shame.

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Wednesday Martin, PhD

According to conventional wisdom, men are horny cheating dogs and women are the faithful ones. In reality, says Wednesday Martin, women are even more likely than men to desire sex with multiple partners. And they are increasingly more likely to act on that urge. Recent studies show that women tend to get bored of sex with a single partner after just one to two years, while men take an average of seven years to reach that point. The growing interest in consensual nonmonogamy (open or “monogamish” relationships, polyamory, swinging, etc.) is driven more by women than by their male partners.

22 The Seven Principles for Making Marri

John Gottman, PhD and Nan Silver

Relationship researchers John and Julie Gottman are famed for their discovery that, based on the ratio of a couple’s positive and negative interactions, the psychologists can predict whether a marriage will end in divorce with 94% accuracy. Anything less than four positive statements for every negative one and the marriage is in serious trouble. This book is the culmination of their findings from 35 years of research at their Seattle “Love Lab” into what makes relationships succeed or fail. Gottman describes the warning signs and provides exercises to help you rebuild your friendship and intimacy with your partner.

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Jessa Zimmerman

This short book focuses on a common pattern that arises in relationships: the sexual avoidance cycle. Based on her years of experience helping couples navigate this pattern, sex therapist Jessa Zimmerman has developed a nine-phase experiential process to help identify your own negative patterns and implement solutions to break the cycle. This book will help you communicate your desires more effectively and shift your mindset around intimacy in your relationship.

 

Practical Science & Health

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Barry Koisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple

This is a geeky guide full of fascinating details about how the human body actually produces all those pleasurable sensations of sex. If deciphering a mix of neurotransmitters, hormones, and physiological changes like vasodilation is your thing, you’ll come away from this well-written book with a better appreciation of the complex workings of sexual response.

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Helen Fisher, PhD

Romantic passion is not an emotion. It’s a primal need as powerful as hunger, hardwired over millions of years of evolution. So says renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher in this fascinating exploration of her research into the brains of people who had recently fallen madly in love. Romantic love is also universal. Fisher found that people feel equally passionate about their new loves, regardless of factors like nationality, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status.

26 Bonk- The Curious Coupling of Science

Mary Roach

Mary Roach brings humor and curiosity to her exploration of how scientists do research on our favorite subject. Bonk! is an anthology of some of the most wacky and interesting sex research projects to grace the halls of academia. Roach unveils the many ways sex researchers have been shamed for attempting to share their knowledge with the general public. We also learn how they’ve tried to answer that age-old question: “What do women want?” If you enjoy science and history mixed with a lot of laughter, this is a great resource on how we know what we know (and don’t know) about human sexuality.

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Sue Johnson, EdD

Why do humans feel the need for long-term romantic partners? According to Sue Johnson (bestselling author of Hold Me Tight), we evolved to form deep, loving bonds as a survival strategy, similar to the need for secure attachment between a mother and child. Johnson delves into the emerging research on attachment psychology and explains what you can do to foster a healthy, secure bond with your mate.

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Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, PhD, and James Witte, PhD

How do you find out what’s normal in sex and relationships? You team up one wellness entrepreneur with two PhD sociologists, who then survey more than 100,000 people around the world about their intimate lives. The Normal Bar summarizes those findings with insights about sexual frequency, positions, foreplay, kissing, money, cheating, obsessions, kinky sex, and much more. The authors include suggested exercises that readers can use with their partners to address a range of relationship issues.

Jennifer Gunter, MD

Gynecologist Jennifer Gunter wrote this comprehensive guide to the vulva to help women (and men) separate fact from myth about one of the least-understood parts of the human body. The book starts with an anatomical overview of the purposes and amazing features of each part of a woman’s genital anatomy. Gunter then moves into a systematic review of the various myths and harmful products that have been marketed to fix problems that don’t exist, and provides practical solutions to common problems that do exist. This is a user’s manual for anyone who has a vagina or comes into regular contact with them.

30 Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health.

Dudley Seth Danoff, MD

Good information, like a good man, is hard to find. Dr. Dudley Seth Danoff, MD, offers abundant, accurate information in this wide-ranging book, such as: super foods to invigorate your sex life, the health benefits of having sex, important questions a gay man should ask his doc, and ways to stay sexy as you age. Danoff is a world-renowned urologist whose message is: at its finest, great sex is an emotional connection that combines good skills backed by informed knowledge.

 

Special Topics

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Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

Let’s face it, most humans are not very good at monogamy. Just look at the rates of infidelity and divorce. But if you’ve ever cheated on (or been cheated on by) a partner, you know that the pain and heartache is typically about the deceit and loss of trust, not the sex act itself. Authors Hardy and Easton show us how to claim our wandering nature, communicate our desires with our partners openly and honestly, and live more exciting and fulfilling sex lives.

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Marty Klein, PhD

We sex therapists frequently hear female clients complain about their husband’s “porn addiction.” The reality, according to Marty Klein, is that excessive porn use is not itself a problem, but can be an indicator that there are deeper relationship issues that may need work. This book unpacks many of the myths around pornography and the adult entertainment industry. Klein details how, in the absence of quality sex education, teens turn to porn for information about sex. He recounts how right-wing Christians and sex-negative feminists formed an unholy alliance against the porn industry. And he offers a prescription for Americans to heal our unhealthy relationship with porn through more open and honest talk about sex.

Joan Price

Joan Price is on a mission to dispel the myth that older people are not interested in sex. She writes about expanding our ideas of what sex is, exploring and celebrating sexual pleasure, enjoying orgasms with or without a partner, and navigating responsive desire. The book is filled with tips and advice from experts, including Yours Truly. This guide provides everything for the over-sixty set to live a more fulfilling and sensual life.

Bradley A. Coates, Esq.

Sex is one of the three main causes of divorce. (The others are money and family.) According to long-time divorce lawyer Brad Coates, another frequent guest on my radio show, “in divorce situations there has been either too much sex outside the marriage, or too little within it.” If you’re considering ending your marriage, this important book might actually help prevent it from getting to that point.

Linda De Villers, PhD

Oysters, strawberries, pistachio nuts, papayas, ginseng. Every culture has foods that it considers aphrodisiac. And cooking aphrodisiac foods together is a great way for you and your partner to enjoy some sensual fun that just might get you horny. As I wrote in the Foreword, this book is practical, inspiring, erotic, and elegant. It’s also the only cookbook I know of that was created by a certified sex therapist. Each recipe includes fun facts about the aphrodisiac history of that particular dish.

 

VIDEOS & MOVIES​

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Despite decades of research into the biology, psychology, and sociology of sex, until recently no one had ever done a large-scale study on the mechanics of the female orgasm. Enter OMGyes. The website, which features explicit videos of real peoples’ experiences, was launched in 2016. It disseminates practical information based on the findings of a peer-reviewed study of over 2,000 women, ages 18-95, looking at what actually makes women come. And now they have great suggestions for couples, too. Check out their “Inner Pleasure Collection.”

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This “Netflix of Sex Education” is an online library featuring a wide variety of more than 600 films about all aspects of sexuality. Curated by my friend, sex educator and filmmaker Mark Schoen, the site features all six of the educational videos that I wrote and narrated, including “How to Seduce Your Lover Forever.”

Sinclair Institute

One of the most popular series of instructional videos, the Sinclair Institute’s Better Sex programs have helped millions of people overcome their inhibitions and expand their sexual repertoires. We learn so much visually! This is sex education at its best, and many of my clients have praised the videos. They feature commentary by sex experts and explicit depictions of real couples having sex, and cover many topics including tantric positions, advanced oral sex, fantasy role-playing, and tips for incorporating sex toys into partnered sex. My most recent Sinclair narration was for “Great Sex for a Lifetime,” Volumes 1 and 2.

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Tristan Taormino, director

Ever since Fifty Shades of Grey became a smash hit, interest in the kinkier options on the sexual menu has soared. For couples interested dipping their toes—and other body parts—into this territory, the Expert Guides video series by sex educator and feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino is a great place to start. The series includes guides to female ejaculation, pegging, advanced fellatio and cunnilingus, rough sex, anal pleasure, and more. 

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Showtime

This hit Showtime series is based on the biography of famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Between 1956 and 1969, the pair conducted research into human sexuality at Washington University in St. Louis. The show explores both their pioneering work and their personal relationship, which boldly challenged cultural and academic boundaries in a tumultuous time in American history. Side note: I had the pleasure of serving on a panel with Dr. Masters and Dr. Ruth Westheimer (another giant in our field), in Washington, DC, in 1995, talking about sex and aging.

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Sheona McDonald, director

This 2019 documentary tells the life story of Candice Vadala, better known as Candida Royalle. Acknowledged as the godmother of feminist porn, Royalle started her career as a porn star in the 1970s, at the height of the sexual revolution. In the 1980s she began making her own films, breaking with industry norms by focusing on women’s pleasure. Candida was a personal friend of mine for over twenty years before her untimely death from ovarian cancer in 2015. This touching film tells the inspiring story of this beautiful and complex woman.

 

PODCASTS

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Host: Dan Savage

One of the most popular sex and relationships podcasts on the internet, this weekly show is hosted by the often-irreverent advice columnist Dan Savage. It’s full of great tips for navigating modern relationships, mixed with entertaining political and cultural commentary. Savage answers questions from callers of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and relationship styles. No topic is taboo. Calls and answers range from online dating tips to polyamory; from BDSM to talking about your relationships with family. Every episode features an interview with a guest expert, often sex researchers discovering new insights about what turns us on and why.

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Host: Emily Morse

Emily Morse is on a crusade: “Saving the world, one orgasm at a time.” A pioneer in sex advice podcasting, she’s been at it for over ten years. And somehow she keeps pumping out three episodes a week of intelligent, entertaining, and compassionate advice to listeners around the world. She also hosts a daily satellite radio show on SiriusXM and writes numerous articles on topics from sex toy reviews to mutual masturbation; from ethical porn to sex-positive parenting. With its massive searchable archive of hundreds of podcast episodes, articles, and blog posts, her website is practically an encyclopedia of great sex advice.

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Host: Tristan Taormino

If you’re curious about some of the edgier realms of sex, this weekly show by powerhouse Tristan Taormino is a great place to start. For decades she has been a sex educator, author, feminist pornographer, and activist for sexual freedom. Each episode features an in-depth interview with a guest expert on a wide range of topics, including sex in pop culture, anal sex, kink, sexual politics, erotic literature, trans rights, consensual nonmonogamy, and many more. Her relaxed yet enthusiastic style makes it entertaining and fun to learn about topics that may be a little uncomfortable for the uninitiated.

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Host: Dixi De La Tour

If you like NPR’s The Moth, you’ll love this podcast. Hosted by “sexual folklorist” Dixie De La Tour, each ten-minute episode features sexy and entertaining personal tales told at live monthly story slams around the United States by poets, writers, burlesque performers, comedians, scientists, teachers, sex workers, and just plain folk. Since the pandemic began, the monthly Bawdy story slams have gone online. Tune into the livestream on a date night for some fun, sexy entertainment that’ll get you and your mate in the mood. And the show’s archive of 100+ episodes is available online for free.

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To expand your podcast menu even further, explore the Pleasure Podcasts network. This family of smart, sexy, funny shows includes Sex Out Loud and Bawdy Storytelling, plus eight other podcasts that explore sex and relationships from many different angles. One fun option is Sex Talk with My Mom, a weekly conversation between a 30-something male comedian and his 60-something cougar mother, in which they discuss their dating lives and dispense relationship advice to listeners.

ONLINE RESOURCES

 
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Justin Lehmiller, PhD

Tap into the mind of psychologist Justin Lehmiller, PhD, one of the country’s top sex researchers. On his personal blog, he gives us a regular glimpse into how he and his colleagues at the University of Indiana’s famed Kinsey Institute are expanding the frontiers of knowledge with their research into the science of human sexuality.

The website of the venerable magazine Psychology Today is home to a wealth of blogs and columns offering expert information and advice on sex and psychology. Contributors include Michael Castleman, Paul Joannides, Marty Klein, Justin Lehmiller, and dozens more.

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Marty Klein, PhD

Another of my favorite blogs comes from Marty Klein—therapist, author of five books, educator, and expert on sex in the media and public policy. He shares strong and intelligent opinions on controversial topics including porn, censorship, sexual diversity, and more. Subscribe free to his blog newsletter.

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Whether you’re just beginning to explore the kinkier side of sex, or looking to master your advanced techniques, Kink Academy is a comprehensive resource offering hundreds of online courses led by their faculty of dozens of experienced kinksters.

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