Podcasts & Books

10 Sex-Positive Books You Need To Read In 2021

By Jessica Best
21st May 2021

collage of the best sex books to read

Gone are the days where reading books about sex are considered well, embarrassing (to say the least).

We say open that sex book with a whole lot of pride—on the train, on the bus, in your Uber, hell even at your Nan’s 80th birthday. The time is now to load up on a whole of s-excellent stuff, be it through podcasts or even some self-care producing retail therapy. As Leonard Nimoy always said— “Live long and prosper in the bedroom.”

Whether you're out here looking for the best sex books to read, how-to sex books or just the best sex education book for adults—we have you covered.

Here are the best sex-positive books to read right now.

We Have Always Been Here

By Samra Habib

If you’ve come here expecting one erotic read after another well, that’s not entirely what you’re in for. We Have Always Been Here is a mind-blowing read, one that you probably wouldn’t expect to fall into the sex-positive space but alas, here it is (and it's low key one of the best sex books to read). Samara Habib has spent a good part of her life searching for safety to be herself—as an Ahmadi Muslin growing up in Pakistan she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists and from her parents—she internalised most things to do with her real identity. We love this book because it explores sex-positivity in a not-so-obvious way, through Habib’s memoir of faith, art, love and queer sexuality.

Pleasure Activism

By Adrienne Maree Brown

While we’re not ones to judge a book by its cover, how could you not gravitate towards a book with the title Pleasure Activism. Another book you might not think slips into the realm of sex positivity and yet it truly does in a more holistic sense. All about the politics of healing and happiness which draws on black feminist tradition, Adrienne Maree Brown challenges her readers to think where activism really comes from. Pleasure Activism basically features a number of essays with leading feminists who cover a range of topics from sex work to climate change, race and gender to sex—prepare to rewire your brain in the best way possible. 

This Book Is Gay

By Juno Dawson

If you ask us, This Book Is Gay should be a pre-requisite read for doing life which is why it's down as one of the best sex books tor ead. Written for the human race, builds on testimonials from people all across the gender and sexual spectrums. Frank, funny and fully inclusive, This Book Is Gay features all the answers to your biggest questions around sex, politics, how to pull, stereotyopes, how to come out and a whole lot more.

Ask Building Consent Culture

By Kitty Stryker

There’s no better time than yesterday to school yourself on all things consent. Ask Building Consent Culture dives into why and how consent has become so complex because when you boil things down—it’s pretty black and white. This read goes into how violating someone’s boundaries isn’t limited to sexual relationships and that to resist rape culture, we need a consent culture and one that isn’t just reactionary, for that matter. It’s a heavy read but one that looks at how culture and politics intersect at almost every level of our lives—in the bedroom, in the doctor’s office, no part of life is off-limits.

New Erotica For Feminists

By Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor,  Carrie Wittmer

Erotica is always red hot but when it’s written by a group of legendary feminists—oh how the tables turn. The fantasies read like equal pay, a gender-balanced Congress, Tom Hardy delivering a fresh case of LaCroix and even an immortal Rith Bader Ginsburg. Don't pretend like you need more convincing to buy New Erotica For Feminists, we know you're already sold (especially since it's one of the best sex books of all time).

The Ethical Slut

By Dossie Easton

Not only does “monogamy” have far too many syllables for a word with barely any letters but it’s also, and bear with us here, a pretty old concept. No, it’s not about sticking your pencil in every sharpener you see, rather how to dapple in the emotional side of polyamory—the communication, the honesty needed and of course, safe sex practices. Equally filled with sex education for adults and entertainment, this third edition of this ever-timeless must-read and now includes a whole heap of interviews with poly millennials and new chapters on topics like asexuality, sex workers, and ways polys can connect and thrive. We’re also cheering for the nonbinary gender language used in this new version of The Ethical Slut.

All The F*cking Mistakes 

By Gigi Engle

Say hello to your little modern bible on all things sex, love and life (think of it as one of the best "how-to" sex books of 2021). If there’s one thing to know about Gigi Engle’s brand-spankin’ new book, All The F*cking Mistakes, it’s that it’s all about empowerment. For those that identify with living out their version of womanhood, this is a practical handbook for all the slutty and wanna-be-slutty women out there. It is the ultimate sex-talk book, demystifying female sexuality without any of the awkwardness of "the talk." From learning how to take back your confidence in a world full of slut-shaming, to discovering and owning your sexual empowerment through masturbation, to demanding the love you really deserve, this book is probably God reincarnated, if we’re completely honest.

Queer Sex 

By Juno Roche

If you haven’t heard of Juno Rocher—let us extend an olive branch sprouting with facts. Juno (who identifies as she, her and they) is an internationally recognised trans writer, campaigner and founder of Trans Workers UK and she has the humour to boot. As one of the very best sex books to read, Queer Sex, she dives into the likes of sex, desire and dating with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community. She basically uses the book to call out prejudices and asks you to explore your own concepts (you’ll be fine) of intimacy and sexuality.

How To Have Feminist Sex 

By Flo Perry

We're very here for more sex education books which are simply the best of the best and we'll just state the elephant in the bedroom—to some, the phrase “feminist sex” might seem a bit like an oxymoron but good news, it doesn’t have to be (and we say this wearing our best Gloria Steinem t-shirts). This illustrated book is your fun guide to just loving your body and having fun, guilt-free sex without the patriarchal BS. How To Have Feminist Sex talks about dating after #MeToo, faking consent, stress to kink and honestly, how losing your V-card isn't so different to eating your first chocolate croissant.

Essays In Love

By Alain De Botton

This goldie oldie is probably the literature equivalent to getting around some tantric sex—it’s slow, sensual and we guarantee you’ll feel like an absolute boss dog when you’ve finished. This series of love-essays (swoon) tale the story of a man and woman who meet over casual conversation on a flight from Paris to London. From first kiss to first argument, elation to heartbreak and everything in between, each stage of their relationship is poetically sprawled among the pages of Essays In Love and we know you’ll love it.

Prefer fiction? We've got you covered here.

Design credit: Juliette Davies

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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