15 of the best sex books to improve your sex life

Meet the best sex books that feature thoughtful insights to help you learn more about yourself and your partner

A selection of the best sex books for singles and couples
(Image credit: Future/Amazon)

The best sex books might not take pride of place on your living room bookshelf normally, but these top picks from psychologists, sexologists and intimacy experts shouldn't be kept hidden away. Ranging from research on the female orgasm to a guide on improving intimacy with a new partner, there's a read for everyone on our list.

There's no shame in wanting to read expert insights and useful advice to improve your relationship, both with yourself and your partner. After all, we're learning more about what we do and don't like sexually as the years go by and being able to have open and honest conversations about it all is essential. 

While investing in a great sex toy or spending time trying out new positions can help with this, delving deeper into your own relationship with the help of the best self-help books allows you to explore how you feel about sex and intimacy on a whole new level.

Best sex books for singles 

Whether you want to start exploring your sexuality with one of the best sex apps or learn all about how to have an orgasm, these sex books are for you. As recommended by the team of sexperts, they're mainly written for single people and those in casual relationships who are looking to learn more about themselves and their sexual desires, but anyone can benefit from these insights.

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1. Come as You Are (The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life) by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

"This is one all about the science surrounding female sexuality and pleasure," says Julia Kotziamani (opens in new tab), a sex and relationship coach and educator who specializes in helping women reconnect with their sexuality.

It focuses on the idea that every woman is different and sexuality is like a fingerprint: totally unique. How women engage with desire and sex is dependant on so many factors, from their sexual response mechanisms to their current experience. 

"This is a great place to start tuning into your sexuality and develop your own relationship to and with pleasure," she says. "If you are just starting out on a sexual exploration or rediscovery, or are already well acquainted with what turns you on but want to get deeper, this is a great place to start. You will learn a lot about how the environment surrounding you will impact your sexual desires and how to develop a better relationship with your anatomy and libido."

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2. The Come As You Are Workbook by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

The workbook for Come As You Are is a great companion to go with the book, says Kate Moyle (opens in new tab), UKCP registered psychosexual and relationship therapist, and LELO (opens in new tab)’s sex and relationship expert. "A spin off of the best seller Come As You Are, this book is brilliant for getting you to think about your sexual self, and is full of amazing learning and self-development exercises to go along with it step by step," she says. 

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3. Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

"This book really helps us to destigmatize shame and embrace all parts of us," says sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, MA, and sexpert for Lovers (opens in new tab), a sexual wellness brand and retailer. 

"Radical self-love is difficult to do in a world that thrives on our insecurities, so this book helps you to gain the confidence you need by understanding how your body has done you right over the years. This is one of the best sex books because really helps you to make peace with yourself and be mindful of other people and their own personal body image struggles, also."

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4. Bang - Masturbation for people of all genders and abilities by Vic Liu

If you want to learn more about female masturbation (opens in new tab), whether you're single or in a partnership of some kind, then this could be one of the best sex books for you.

"It does what it says on the tin, and is a brilliant how-to-guide for self-pleasure, which if we are honest everyone can do with and none of us got," says Moyle. 

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5. Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving by Betty Dodson PhD

"The late, great Betty Dodson did so much during her lifetime to destigmatize and demystify female bodies and female pleasure," says Angie Rowntree (opens in new tab), founder and director of the award-winning site Sssh.com (opens in new tab), the premier destination for sex-positive, ethical porn (opens in new tab)

"However, her work on masturbation is truly a humanitarian affair. If you have struggled with sexual shaming, consciously or unconsciously conditioned yourself that masturbation is 'bad' or will 'ruin' your chances of pleasurable partnered sex, then this classic is a must-read," she says. "Dodson proves decisively that 'self-loving is not just for times in-between lovers or for social misfits. Masturbation is the joyful and ongoing love affair that each of us has with ourselves'."

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6. Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon

Ideal for anyone who wants to explore some of the best lesbian sex positions (opens in new tab), this book is all about education and technical skills for women who have sex with women.

"Although any person can really learn a lot from this book," says sexologist Stewart. "Girl Sex helps you to get more aware of your own body, as well as others and provides you with tried and true moves and information that proves successful."

Rowntree agrees, "If you want a contemporary focus on female pleasure in particular, we cannot recommend this book enough. Designed for 'women and their lovers' this book will enlighten you on everything from anatomy, communication and consent, to the myriad of ways to pleasure yourself or someone else. There’s also some great advice from thirteen of today’s top sex educators including Nina Hartley, Sex Nerd Sandra, Jiz Lee, Dirty Lola, Julia Serano, Reid Mihalko, Sunny Megatron, and more."

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7. The New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex, and Pleasure by Bernie Zilbergeld, Ph.D. 

"If you are looking for a resource that can increase your understanding of men and sexuality, The New Male Sexuality, Revised Edition is definitely what to look out for," says Barbara Santini (opens in new tab), psychologist and sex therapist. "You can count on it being one of the best sex books because it is written by a qualified psychologist."

Best sex books for couples 

No matter what kind of relationship or situationship you're in, our sexperts have recommended a number the best sex books for those in some kind of partnership. So whether you want to know all about the best sex toys for couples or how to have better sex overall, one of these will be for you. 

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8. Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Term Relationship by Stephen Snyder, M.D

"While you may think this is a “how-to” book, that is not the case," says Santini, who works with unique sex toy brand Peaches and Screams (opens in new tab). "This book explores the connection between sexual feelings and the human body. Believe me, when you understand this connection, you are more likely to enjoy sex in your long-term relationship."

Rowntree agrees, "Love Worth Making is one of the best deep dives out there designed to give you serious insight into the multifaceted nature of your sexual feelings and how to understand and transmute those feelings into lasting passion," she says.  

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9. Enjoy Sex ( How When and If You Want To) by Meg John Barker & Justin Hancock 

This was one of the top sex books recommended by the experts, one for anyone (not just those in a partnership of some kind) who want to learn how to be more confident (opens in new tab) in the bedroom and talk about sex in an open, honest way. 

"This is a brilliant and inclusive guide for navigating sex through a psychological and emotional lens, which is one of the biggest parts that shapes our sexual experiences," says Moyle. "Every chapter has 'try it now' exercises to help you to dip your toe into doing things differently when it comes to your sex life, and opening up perspectives."

Kotziamani agrees, "This is an insightful, sensitively handled and enlightening book which explores a much wider range of desires, sexualities, and genders than we are used to hearing about. It's an expansive guide to pleasure, safety, and acceptability and really showcases the wide and exciting range of 'normal' human sexual desires."

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10. All About Love by Bell Hooks

"This is a must-read for anyone who wants to hold down a healthy, respectful and progressive relationship. It truly revolutionized how I viewed personal relationships as a woman in a world designed with men in mind," says Kotziamani. 

"It is not about sex per se, more about all facets of love and intimacy, but it flips the script on how we view interpersonal dynamics, and I recommend it to all of my clients, friends and followers," she says. "It delves into and challenges the core values we need to build from in healthy relationships and sets up the foundations from which great love (and sex) can grow."

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11. Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships by Stella Harris

"This is an amazing book for anyone who struggles to communicate with their partner or partners about sex both in and outside of the bedroom. It is full of amazing practical tricks to get you talking confidently and overcoming shame," says Kotziamani. 

"It's useful for anyone who has intimate partnerships, from talking consent, safely exploring and sharing fantasies in a long-term relationship, all the way to BDSM (opens in new tab) orgies. It's also candid, fast-paced, and funny, so is a great read. It comes with exercises which can really shift the way you think and talk about sex."

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12. Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy by Jessica Fern

"A lot of couples have been opening up their relationship and getting great results. However, you really need to be strategic, educate yourself, and do the best you can to prepare for what's to come," says Stewart. "When we're not secure, this is when trauma and drama happens, so it's super important to get a good foundation when it comes to opening up your relationship."

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13. Mind The Gap. The truth about desire and how to futureproof your sex life by Dr Karen Gurney

"This book basically sums up how much of what we are taught about desire plays a part in us not having the sex lives that we want," says Moyle. "Dr Karen Gurney is the leading voice on the topic of desire, and the book is a combination of 'ah ha' moments, questions and thinking points and exercises that you can try. As one of the best sex books, it will honestly turn everything that you think about desire and wanting sex on its head." 

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14. 101 Nights of Great Sex: Secret Sealed Seductions for Fun-Loving Couples by Laura Corn

"If you feel like you maybe need less head-shrinking and more ideas for your next date night then we heavily recommend 101 Nights of Great Sex," says Sssh.com founder Rowntree, making it ideal for anyone who wants to try out the best sex positions (opens in new tab) and exciting new angles.

"It’s hard to go wrong with so many fun and engaging and very practical ideas to implement new seduction ASAP. Corn does an amazing job of making 101 Nights accessible and enticing. There are ideas geared towards both men and women, so it’s always collaborative."

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15. Sex Detox by Ian Kerner

"I really like this book for couples because it's a way to take a pause and really reflect on your relationship," says Stewart. "Sometimes in relationships, we get bored or we just don't know how to make the relationship better. This helps you to think about your individual desires, your lover's desires, as well as how you can navigate your desires together and what that looks like in the future." 

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.

She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.