Davis, Michele Wiener. The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 2003. 

Couples underestimate just how many of their paired-up peers have mismatched sexual appetites. In these partnerships, both the higher-sexed and lowed-sexed partner hurt. Our sexual desires are partly stable and partly influenced by physical and psychological fluctuations (hormone shifts after giving birth, stress) or new realities such as a chronic illness. Davis writes this book to help couples talk about their sexuality more frankly and more productively about their sexual relationship. Each partner, whether the higher or lower-sexed party, has a duty to lovingly and vulnerably state their desires and the same duty to tune into their partner’s wants, needs, and feelings. Davis stresses action plans that can help you and your sweetie both feel safe and more satisfied (in all senses) with the relationship. Sometimes, too, borrowing from Nike, Davis we says we have to “Just Do It” as desire can FOLLOW arousal and not precede it as many people (even the scientific community) have commonly thought .  This easy-to-read book is full of examples of real couples illustrating frustrating mismatched scenarios and accompanying emotions as well as solutions (action-oriented behavior, active listening, etc).

Joannides, Paul. The Guide to Getting It On: America’s Coolest and Most Informative Book About Sex, 9th edition, Goofy Foot Press, 2017.

This book is a textbook-non-textbook on human sexuality! Seriously, this has been used as a textbook for human sexuality courses! It is currently on the ninth edition. Our sexuality is approached with delight, humor, and accessibility for all readers. The “Bed of Contents” has something for everyone, from the purely physical realms of anatomy, all types of non-intercourse (“horizontal jogging”) sex play, including oral sex and manual stimulation, to the psychological and relational, from sexual fantasies to male/female experiences of orgasm to period sex to discussing sex with your partner or in answering children’s questions. The book also addresses abortion, adoption, circumcision, pornography, and making sex work with a disability. There are lots of excellent cartoons that illustrate anatomy or explain concepts. Joannides has inserted lots of additional resources as well – a glossary of human sexuality terms and lingo (online in newer versions, but an older editions will retain a glossary in-house one), organizations, books, and websites for various topics. Resource lists from significantly dated editions may suggest now defunct material, so keep that in mind! This book is also heavily skewed to heterosexual, cisgender sexuality with little mentions of LGBTQ. That aside, this is an enlightening and engaging comprehensive look at human sexuality.

Kerner, Ian. She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. William Morrow, 2009.

She Comes First is to female pleasure as The Elements of Style is to writing instruction: rules and principles, only the former is a guide to the language of cunnilingus instead of English. Most women are unable to orgasm during penile-vaginal intercourse due to anatomy. While certain intercourse positions can stimulate the clitoral head, oral sex provides the direct and constant pressure that builds sexual tension and has the potential to tap the entire clitoral network (the clitoral network has 18 parts! 18!), making it a true labor of love for the giver. Instead of being relegated to foreplay, Kerner advocates for cunnilingus as coreplay; that is, a significant and total sexual practice in its own right. Because oral sex can inspire anxiety and insecurity for women, givers should reassure women that oral sex is a gift that they want to give and have all the time in the world to give. The book is divided into three parts: laying out the why for becoming skilled at giving cunnilingus, female sexual anatomy, and taking techniques and principles into specific sexual play routines. The book mimics its own calling for building up sexual tension: short chapters, bursts of technique description before tapering into interludes before a next build-up of technical content designed to take women to the heights of multiple orgasms. Clear illustrations supplement the written anatomy descriptions and sexual techniques. Part sex manual, part remedial sex education, this book is sure to please in multiple respects.

Kerner, Ian. Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man. (Originally titled as He Comes Next). William Morrow, 2008.

                Did a man come or come really hard? Kerner delves into male anatomy, arousal, and orgasm to explain the difference. Male sexuality is often centralized into the penis and its hardness when in fact relying on erection to indicate arousal is as naïve as taking female lubrication as guaranteed sexual arousal. A more global route to male pleasure lies in (initially) avoiding the penis and facilitating relaxation and arousal all over the male body. Kerner first discusses the body and how men learn from a young age to be constantly protective of their genitals. This literally closes the pelvis into itself and locks out intensity of sexual pleasure. Kerner also discusses how hormones, long term relationships, and fantasy can affect male sexuality. Because the pelvis is protective of itself, men need to focus on the entire body to have “out-of-body” climaxes, and that’s where Kerner spends the rest of his time. While some of the early chapters in this section (like Sexual Health) seem to be better focused in Part 1 (The Male Body) or unnecessary for the purpose of the book (Kerner judges real fantasies), readers can still get mostly techniques from Part II. Passionistas are ladies who take concern for their and their male sexual partner’s pleasure and don’t just give orgasm away easily! Many men masturbate quickly with a routine often involving rhythmic stokes, but passionistas take time to arouse all over the body and avoid focused penile attention early on. Specific techniques (massaging, kissing, oral or manual stimulation) and orders of techniques are provided to provide maximum arousal and avoid the point of ejaculatory inevitability to heighten the intensity of eventual release. These techniques can be a great place to start, and it’s also important to discuss together what individually feels the best for the couple. Readers also need to keep in mind that this is written from a heteronormative perspective. Overall, this is an engaging read able to intensify a man’s sexual pleasure if the emotional climate of the relationship is secure enough for sexual play. An additional bibliography for further reading is provided.

Klein, Marty. Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex – And How to Get It. HarperOne,2013.

Sex therapist and marriage counselorKlein writes an incredibly down-to-earth and refreshing work on human sexuality. Instead of lamenting our changing sexuality as we age, Klein invites people to accept the changes and roll with the punches. Acceptance is a prominent theme: acceptance that sex changes as we age, acceptance of our own sexual preferences and ignoring what prominent researchers like Master’sand Johnson define as “normal”, and acceptance of your partner. We become sexually intelligent when we accept sexuality won’t always be the same throughout our life cycle (and doesn’t need to be). When we avoid the”shoulds” for ourselves and our partners, we become sexually intelligent. Great work in the field of human sexuality. Klein’s principles can help couples in and out of the bedroom. I would love to see society take this more laissez-faire approach to sexuality.

Lehmiller, Justin. Tell Me WhatYou Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your SexLife. Da Capo Press, 2018. 

Social psychologist Lehmiller (research fellow, Kinsey Inst.; The Psychology of Human Sexuality) looks at American sexual desire on a large scale to see what people want to do with whom and how. When it comes to sexual desire and fantasy, we quickly judge what is acceptable and deviant. Incomplete or inaccurate sexual knowledge mixed with a society that pathologizes desire outside the narrow window of”normal” keeps people from fully enjoying sexuality consensually, legally, and ethically. After unpacking survey methodology, the author discusses common sexual fantasies and explores gender differences.Readers also learn the risks (STIs, rocky emotions) and benefits (greater intimacy and acceptance in our relationships, greater sexual satisfaction) of disclosing and acting out our passions so long as they are consensual and legal. Lehmiller closes by encouraging readers that their sexual interests are probably normal but that professional help exists if our desires cause us angst. He also advocates for comprehensive sexual education and suspending judgment on ourselves and others. VERDICT An excellent choice for readers wanting to know more about their own fantasies as well as those who are simply curious about American sexual desires in general

The above review was published in Library Journal and reproduced here with permission from its owner, Media Source Inc.

Nagoski, Emily. Come as You Are: The Suprising New Science that Will Transform you Sex Life. Simon and Schuster, 2015.

Nagoski rattles against the men-as-default model of female sexuality that sustains enduring inaccurate myths about female sexuality. These myths rest on the presupposition that how men’s sexuality operates is the appropriate model for women’s. Therefore, if women don’t orgasm during intercourse, something is wrong. If they don’t have a spontaneous sex drive, something is wrong. If they are physically lubricated but don’t subjectively feel aroused (nonconcordance), they must not know how to interpret their body’s signals, and those women are doing something wrong. Nagoski splices all the ways (the three domains are medical, moral, and media messages) women and men receive and hear reinforcements of these messages, and then unpacks how they are both incorrect and do a lot of damage toward women’s relationship with their sexuality (and hence the relationships with their partners). The book is organized in a logical flow and lots of research to back up her points. Nagoski discusses anatomy, sexuality in the content of emotions (stress, attachment) and culture (body dissatisfaction, porn, unrealistic images). Readers are introduced to the dual control model of arousal: our sexual accelerators (sexual excitation system) and our sexual breaks (sexual inhibition system) which give people unique sexual personalities as the systems interact in different ways. It then switches to sex play itself. Genital lubrication is an indicator of something is being seen in the mind as sexual relevant to the body (we expect sex) and not as commonly understood as not being an indicator of subjective arousal (enjoyment and eagerness). Nagoski’s echoes the common refrain that the most important sexual organ is between the ears (the brain!), and she illuminates how. Just as valuable as the sexuality information is the notions of meta-emotions and emotions coaching as it relates to sex. The biggest thing women can shift to is mindfulness and compassionate non-judgment with themselves and their sexuality. Composite patients based on real people Nagoski has helped also feature throughout the book, and readers see their successful sexual stories. This is an excellent work that educates and gives women a framework to have a healthier sexual wellbeing.


Most of these articles are going tobe free online (ie, Open Access). If the article is not freely available, Iwill indicate that. In that case, check with your local librarians! Please first ask your librarian at your local library before buying online – many times youcan get an article at no cost through one of your library’s databases orinterlibrary loan.

Aristone, Carolynn. “When the Urge is Uneven: Understanding the Universe of Sexual Desire.” GoodTherapy, 6 Feb. 2018,

Castleman, Michael. “The 9 Keys to Great Sex in a Relationship.” Psychology Today, 15Nov. 2017,

Johnson, Sue. “Attachment and the Dance of Sex: Integrating Couple and Sex Therapy.” Dr Sue Johnson, 14 March 2016,

Johnson, Sue. “What Does the Sex Recession Tell Us About Today’s Sexual Landscape and Emotional Isolation?” Dr. Sue Johnson, 17 Jan. 2019,

Lehmiller, Justin. “How Many Sexless Marriages Are There & Why Do People Stay in Them?” Lehmiller, 22 Nov. 2013,

Lehmiller, Justin. “How to Talk to Your Partner About Your Sexual Fantasies.” Lehmiller, 25 Jan. 2019,

Perel, Esther. “4 Ways to Reignite Passion in Your Relationship.” Mind Body Green, n.d.,

Weiner-Davis, Michele . “MyHusband Is Not Interested in Sex.” Divorce Busting, 2006,

Weiner-Davis, Michele . “Sex Drives: His and Hers.” Divorce Busting, 2009,

Disclaimer: This site is informational only and its resources are not substitutions for professional therapy. If you need professional help, see the Find a Therapist page to locate a qualified mental health professional.