We’ve compiled a list of some books that we’ve loved and found helpful. It’s not an exhaustive list and we can’t promise that these books will be safe for everyone, although we have tried to be selective. So, as you go through the list, remember to take care, take your time and go easy – these books aren’t going anywhere.
Trauma and our bodies
The Body Keeps the Score- 2015
This book explores the role of trauma in psychiatric illness and how our understanding has changed over the past 20 years, what we have learned about the ways the brain is shaped by traumatic experiences, how traumatic stress is a response of the entire organism, and how that knowledge needs to be integrated into healing practices.
Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement- 2016
Often pushed to the margins, queer, transgender and gender non-conforming survivors have been organising in anti-violence work since the birth of the movement. Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement locates them at the centre of the anti-violence movement and creates a space for their voices to be heard. Moving beyond dominant narratives and the traditional “violence against women” framework, the book is multi-gendered, multi-racial and multi-layered.
The Mindbody Prescription- 1999
This book seeks to unpick the relationship between chronic pain and repressed emotions. It claims that many painful conditions – including neck and back pain, migraine, repetitive stress injuries, whiplash and tendonitis – are often rooted in repressed emotions, and shows how they can be successfully treated without drugs, physical measures, or surgery.
The Courage to Be Me: A story of courage, self-compassion and hope after sexual abuse- 2014
We LOVE this book. The Courage to Be Me combines science, storytelling and illustration to send a message of hope to the millions of people who are living with the impact of rape or sexual abuse. It’s honest, relatable, helpful and most importantly incredibly caring. It is also available for free if you read it online!
Sexuality, Self-love and relationships
Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving- 1987
Betty Dodson dedicated much of her life to taking the shame out of masturbation, showing it to be a healthy form of sexual expression. With warmth and intelligence, and informative line drawings, Dodson explains how anyone can learn to fully enjoy the pleasures of self-love, pointing out that masturbation is still the safest sex.
Come as You Are- 2015
An exploration of why and how (cis) women’s sexuality works — based on scientific research and neuroscience — this book claims that it will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love- 2018
The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by violent oppressive systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world – for us all.
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — And How to Get It- 2017
By dispelling the lies, misunderstandings, and myths that have been holding us back, Becoming Cliterate tackles both personal and political problems and replaces them with updated outlooks and practical skills needed to change our collective perspective on sex. It’s time to finally inform women and men on how to have satisfying experiences in bed that benefit both parties.
The Return of Desire: A Guide to Rediscovering Your Sexual Passion- 2008
Drawing on three decades of experience as a sex therapist and sex researcher, this book shows us how to open up to the four energies that spark desire; transcend guilt, shame, and "good-girls-don't" messages; help heal the sexual wounds of abuse, addiction, affairs and low self-esteem; and ultimately to enjoy sexual pleasure throughout our life span — from new love, to parenthood, and into our golden years.
Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence- 2017
Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples’ therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships.
The Ethical Slut [Third Edition]: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love- 2017
For twenty years, The Ethical Slut — widely known as the “Poly Bible” — has dispelled myths and showed curious readers how to maintain a successful polyamorous lifestyle through open communication, emotional honesty and safer sex practices. The third edition of this timeless guide to the ethics of relationships, communication and sex has been revised to include new perspectives.
With the Kisses of His Mouth- 2011
A memoir of sexual self-discovery in the wake of the break-up of a largely sexless relationship. Emotionally reeling, Monique Roffey went searching not just for lovers but to experience the furthest limits of her sexuality.
Action: A Book About Sex- 2016
With whip-smart prose, reminiscent of Roxane Gay and Meghan Daum, Action interweaves Spiegel's own sexual autobiography with loving advice on one-night stands, relationships, and everything in between.
General popular psychology, healing and spirituality
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN- 2019
Tara Brach is an American psychologist, teacher and proponent of Buddhist meditation. In this book, she shares a four-step meditation that loosens the grip of difficult emotions and limiting beliefs. Each step in the meditation practice (Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Nurture) is brought to life by memorable stories shared by Tara and her students as they deal with feelings of overwhelm, loss and self-aversion, with painful relationships, and past trauma. She also has a podcast (simply called Tara Brach) where she offers weekly reflections and meditations.
Brené Brown - collected works
We love Brené’s relatable humour, honestly and straightforward writing. On her website, she has an explanation of her books and what you might want to read first – they are all great, so start with the one that feels right.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment- 1997
This book is intended to be a guide for day-to-day living and stresses the importance of living in the present moment and transcending thoughts of the past or future. The book also describes methods of relaxation and meditation to aid us in anchoring ourselves in the present.