Notable 2016 Sex Books

Sex: there’s so much to learn! These well-written, 2016 non-fiction books present new information, helpful tips, and provocative points of view that you’ll find illuminating. These books make great holiday gifts — buy them in time to read them first!

Inviting Desire: A guide for women who want to enhance their sex life by Walker J. Thornton, is a self-help book of tips, tools, questions, and exercises that help you understand and own your sexuality after the shifts you’ve experienced after menopause. It’s written as a 30-day process to invite desire and sexuality back into your life, and help you examine new ways to think about sexual desire, prepare for sex, understand your own arousal pattern, and accept yourself as a sexual being. Thornton’s tone is soft-spoken and intimate, sharing the practices that she has learned along her own journey. “This is about you, your body, and your desire,” writes Thornton.

Thornton covers many useful topics in her 30-day journey. You’ll learn more about yourself as a sexual being as well as tools for making changes.  Although Thornton says, “it’s for you, not you and a partner” and the exercises are done independently, the book is geared to women who have partners or partners-to-be. If you’re solo, some of the practices won’t apply, but you’ll still learn new ways to think about your own body, your own desire, and your own pleasure.

 Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love by Emily Witt. Single, in her thirties, and (sometimes) enjoying the hook-up culture, Emily Witt decides to observe and participate in other ways that people enjoy sex. She explores Orgasmic Meditation, the making of porn, sex parties, and Burning Man, for example. If you liked America Unzipped and Secret Sex Lives, you’ll enjoy this one, too. Some of Witt’s discoveries/conclusions:

  • “Some experiences you avoid not because you know you don’t like them but because you don’t want to like them…My aversion to pornography was not because the images didn’t stimulate, but because i did not want to be turned on by sex that was not the kind of sex I wanted to have.” 
  • “I think if someone were to draw a portrait of the people who were ‘ruining Burning Man’ it would have looked like us.”
  • “I now understood the fabrication of my sexuality. I saw the seams of its construction and the arbitrary nature of its myths…Just as wanting to fall in love did not manifest love, proclaiming myself ‘sexually free’ would not liberate me from inhibition.”
In Search of My Sexy Old Self: Re-discovering sex after sixty and beyond  by Cathy Thomas is a memoir + self-help guide on rediscovering sex with a partner after it has gone dormant. At 71 and 74, Cathy Thomas and her partner had been together 30 years, and for the last decade, sex had stopped for them. They rarely talked about it, and skittishly dropped the subject if it happened to come up. Then Thomas decided to go on a journey, researching whether people were really having sex at their age, and if so, what kind of sex, and why, and how. Her research led her to several authors (among them, me) and websites, and the new knowledge she gained culminated in a rebirth of sex and a new kind of communication and intimacy between Thomas and her partner. The end of each chapter includes “Discovery Tasks” to help you take this journey yourself.

I recommend this well-written and buoyant book especially for readers who want a gentler, more one-step-at-a-time pace in rediscovering their sex lives than I often promote. Whereas I may seem to push you into a “just do it” attitude whether talking to a partner or a doctor or self-pleasuring with sex toys, I know that many of you might appreciate a more gradual approach. This book may be just right for you.

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