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According to a recent survey of sexually active adults, 75% of men reported always reaching climax during sex. For women, that number drops to 29%. This isn’t the only way sex differs for men and women.
For many women, arousal and sexual desire is higher during times of infatuation or falling in love. And while men can often become aroused at a moment’s notice, women may need more stimulation and foreplay. Even the ways we look at masturbation differ, as more than 70% of men under 60 report masturbating semi-regularly, while only slightly more than 50% of women did.
Pornography now plays a bigger role in sexuality, too. And, contrary to popular opinion, porn isn’t just for men anymore. In a survey of more than 3,000 women, Marie Claire found that 30% of women watch porn “a few times a month.” Likewise, the best sex toys are now a normal part of lovemaking for many couples.
Clearly, there’s a lot to learn about sex and sexual desire, especially when it comes to fulfilling your partner’s needs. To that end, we’ve rounded up some of the best couples books that will provide you with meticulously researched, often surprising sex advice on how to improve your love life and more fully satisfy your partner. Unlike the best erotica, these well-reviewed sex books aren’t written to be titillating. Or, rather, that’s not their primary purpose. The best sex books provide practical advice and exercises for improving your sex life, relationships and overall sense of fulfillment.
Keep reading to discover the best sex books for men, women and couples.
1. She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
With more than 300,000 copies sold and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this is the ultimate guide to female pleasure. Author Ian Kerner wrote a book that Cosmopolitan described as “every man’s must-read.” It’s an indispensable guide to oral sex, female pleasure and great orgasms. This book focuses on how to put the woman’s needs first in the bedroom and how this will lead to a more enjoyable and fulfilling sex life for both partners.
2. The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition
A classic for a reason, The Joy of Sex has been teaching couples to communicate about sex for decades. This book has been a bestseller since it was published in 1972 by Dr. Alex Comfort. The latest edition has been updated by Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist, and features new information, illustrations and tips to keep the flame alive. If you’re interested in learning some new tricks to satisfy your partner (and yourself!), this book is a must. In fact, we added this classic sexual guidebook to our list of the 25 Best Books for Men to read before they die.
3. Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge
Our resident sex expert, Vanessa Carlisle, a dominatrix with a PhD in Creative Writing, Literature and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California, recommends this book to anyone who’s “kink curious and looking to self educate.” It’s a collection of essays that includes everything from how-to trainings to more thoughtful pieces about power, pleasure and desire in all its forms. Each chapter is written by a different sexuality and BDSM educator, so if you’re interested in this world of sexual expression, this is a great place to start your research.
4. 101 Nights of Great Sex (2020 Edition!)
Spice up your love life with this well-loved guide to pleasure. Recommended by Hollywood stars, wellness gurus and even physicians, this book has received a lot of praise for helping couples rekindle their flame. The book itself consists of 101 sealed envelopes, half for each partner and a plus-one special. Each envelope leads to a sexual adventure to be completed by you or your partner. The end result is, you guessed it, better sex. So if you’re trying to take your love life to the next level, we suggest adding this book to the mix.
5. Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship
Monogamy doesn’t have to be synonymous with monotony. That’s the principle that guides the work of author Stephen Synder, M.D., a sex and relationship therapist who’s making waves with his creative thinking regarding sex. This award-winning book is filled with interesting (and many times relatable) stories of Dr. Synder’s long career as a therapist. His writing reminds us that while sex is supposed to be about connection, it’s also supposed to be easy and freeing. Whether you’re keeping the flame going with your long-time partner or are in a new relationship, this book can help you establish a long-lasting physical relationship.
6. The Technology of Orgasm
Even in 2021, there are a lot of taboos surrounding sex, and this book does an amazing job of putting things into perspective. Taking a look at the wild world of sex throughout the ages, this illuminating (and often hilarious) book focuses on how vibrators can help enhance women’s pleasure in the bedroom. Written by independent scholar Rachel P. Maines, The Technology of Orgasm is a winner of the Herbert Feis Prize from the American Historical Association.
7. The Guide to Great Sex
While many men have insecurities about their performance in bed, it can be hard to voice those concerns (or to seek help or guidance). This book skips all of the awkwardness and jumps straight to the point. Michael Karp is a former sex columnist who not only studied human sexuality but is also very open with his readers about his own sex life. He covers a wide range of topics, from sex toys to sex positions, and also gives honest advice on how to overcome sexual anxiety.
8. Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure
While you may think you know all you need to know about female arousal and sexual pleasure, Sheri Winston’s book goes deeper and more detailed than you probably ever thought possible. This knowledge could mean the difference between good sex and great sex. Winston is the executive director of a Kingston, NY-based Center for the Intimate Arts, and she combines a lifetime of teaching with scientific and historical research to create this powerful book. Your partner will definitely appreciate the effort.
9. Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out
Sex isn’t just about physical connection; it’s also about emotional connection. Being aligned with your partner in a meaningful, intellectual and even spiritual way can heighten your sexual experience. Jessica Graham’s book focuses on remaining mindful during sex and the positive benefits this can have, from deeper intimacy to longer-lasting pleasure. Graham’s book is a helpful read if you’re dealing with difficult sexual problems, from non-monogamy to the role of pornography in a relationship.
10. Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live With Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness
Carlisle also recommended this sex book as the “only one of its kind” and is touted by its creators as the only complete sex guide for people with disabilities, physical or otherwise. The book addresses a wide range of disabilities from asthma to back pain, chronic fatigue and hearing or visual impairment. The author, Miriam Kaufman, is an MD, a sex educator and disability activist, and aims to make sex easier for people with a wide range of abilities. She discusses topics including positive sexual self-image, how to deal with fatigue during sex, positions for minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure, and more.
11. Come as You Are
This New York Times Bestseller by Emily Nagoski is also a #1 Bestseller in Amazon’s Sex & Sexuality section, and with its combination of new, ground-breaking research and non-judgmental writing, it’s easy to see why. Nagoski takes a deep dive into women’s sexuality, addressing how each woman’s sexual needs are different and unique to her, like a fingerprint. It’s a great read for men and women. Come as You Are will open your eyes to factors you may not have thought of in the bedroom before, such as the context in which a sexual experience takes place and how that affects her pleasure.
12. Sex at Dawn
From Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha comes this controversial bestseller that takes a critical approach to all the assumptions we make as a society regarding sex, monogamy and relationships. At a time when many couples are experimenting with open relationships and ethical non-monogamy, this book can help you better understand love. Newsweek called Sex at Dawn “a scandal in the best sense,” and comedian Illana Glazer praised it as helping her better understand both herself “and the world so much more clearly.” This book will help you unlock new levels of sexual knowledge, and you, and your partner, will wonder how you ever lived without it.
13. Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again
This book, titled after a Michel Foucault quote, is described as an “elegantly written analysis of female desire, consent, and sexuality in the age of MeToo.” During a time where women feel newly empowered, expressing desires confidently and clearly can feel like more of a pressure than a privilege. Discussing everything from pop culture and literature to science and porn, this masterful book by Katherine Angel is a complete reassessment of stereotypes about female desire, in the best way possible.
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent
14. Position of the Day: Sex Every Day in Every Way
When missionary gets boring, turn to this insanely popular, and perfectly graphic exploration on how to discover your partner’s body in new ways. This piece contains 366 different erotic scenarios, so you can experiment every day of the year. It contains the ultimate blend of hilarious, inspiring, and creative positions, but there are also plenty of plausible scenarios. Essentially, this book reminds us to fight against being a creature of habit and to always try new things.
15. Kama Sutra Workout
The ancient art of the Kama Sutra has been around for centuries, but authors and sexperts always find new and imaginative riffs on it. For fitness lovers who appreciate boosting those endorphins in any and all ways, the Kama Sutra Workout combines sexual positions with fitness workouts, so you can multitask like never before. All the positions are engineered to tone and work important muscle groups, with added tips on how to make the most of your workout. Choose from moves organized by difficulty according to heart rate and flexibility ratings.
16. Becoming Cliterate
This award-winning book has received accolades for enhancing the overall understanding of sexuality and solving a range of sexual problems that we’re bound to experience as humans. This book succeeds in helping women orgasm more, improve body image, and become overall more satisfied. On the other end of the spectrum, it helps men learn how to pleasure female partners and communicate better, sexually. It explores activities beyond standard penetration, using research from linguistics, sociology, biology, and sex therapy. Buyers call it an “eye-opener” and “illuminating.”
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — And How to Get It
17. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
An essential read for all couples who have been stuck together during the pandemic, Mating in Captivity is a way to keep the spark alive for romantic partners who cohabitate. After you move in with a partner, sexual activity sometimes becomes predictable. This book helps explore the unique link between sexual desire and domesticity, teaching us how to revive physical romance in long-term relationships. It contains the valuable insight that, as one reviewer puts it, “ intimacy — marked by safety, closeness, and familiarity — and desire — marked by space, mystery, and risk-taking — are two distinct things.”
18. The Ethical Slut, Third Edition
While sex books all offer different morsels of knowledge, some of them can be a little conventional in approach. The Ethical Slut, on the other hand, is a full-on examination of polyamory, open relationships, and other unconventional dynamics, beyond the limits of traditional thinking. Whether you’re monogamous, poly, or looking to explore new relationship structures, this book, referred to as the “Poly Bible” shuts down myths about the lifestyle, all while proving that happy relationships are thanks to emotional honesty and open channels of communication.
The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love
19. Tongue Tied
There are tons of books on female sexuality and spicing up positions, but kink is still a niche topic. While there are plenty of works on those already familiar with kink and BDSM, for beginners or those looking to experiment, the topic isn’t as approachable. Calling to all sexually adventurous folks, Tongue Tied addresses topics like trying out fantasies, negotiating terms in a BDSM scenario and learning communication, an important aspect of kink. A reviewer says, “I love the way that the information can be applied to all kinds of different relationships, not just BDSM or kink.”
Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships
20. The Guide to Getting It On!
Although it’s over 20 years old, this guide is frequently taught in sex ed courses throughout many colleges and universities, using a conversational tone that feels like a chat with a friend. A sex-ed book might not sound entertaining, but hundreds of five-star reviews speak for themselves. As one reader puts it, “If you like to have sex, if you are curious about sex, if you are nervous about sex, if you want the information you can actually trust about sex written by people who have done the homework, this is the book for you.”
The Guide to Getting It On! (The Universe’s Coolest and Most Informative Book About Sex)
21. The Big Black Book of Sex Positions
Reading through this sleek, black and gold book is almost an act of foreplay in itself. It’s an oversized, full-color guide on all the different ways you can reach orgasm. With unique takes on both penetrative and oral sex, the authors tackle the more obvious classics like Cowgirl and Missionary to ones you may have never heard of, like Ballerina, See Saw, Face Straddle, and the Hot Seat. There are dedicated sections on setting the mood and using toys, as well as positions for overweight folks and other useful info.
The Big Black Book of Sex Positions: Take your Sex Life From Boring to Mind-blowing in a Few More Than 69 Moves
22. Curvy Girl Sex
Plus-sized lovers aren’t often the main demographic written about in sex books, so it’s nice to see an author who places more of an emphasis on positions that work for big, beautiful bodies. From exploring which sex toys are best for curvy women to providing body-positive tips and techniques, Curvy Girl Sex contains uplifting hacks not just for plus-sized individuals, but “tips for accommodating bad backs, shoulders, gimpy knees” according to one buyer. For anyone struggling with self-esteem, it’s a must.