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Sex Manuals

Recommended Reading for General Sex Manuals

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Updated April 28, 2013

These days you can find a sex book on every imaginable niche sexual subject. The sex manuals recommended below are all general guides that cover a range of issues and sexual techniques for a broad audience. Most of the sex manuals below that are not geared to a particular gender or orientation can still be read by all, but ones that don’t say so often presume heterosexuality.

Guide to Getting It On

Goofy Foot Press
One reviewer has referred to the Guide to Getting It On as the only sex manual you'll ever need. Certainly it's near encyclopedic coverage of the topic, if not it's easy going tone and fun to read style qualify it for that honor. Covering every sex technique plus topics of sexual health, politics, and culture, the Guide to Getting It On is also the most frequently and lovingly updated sex manual in existence. Highly recommended.

Good Vibrations Guide to Sex

Cleis Press
The first great sex manual of this generation, the GV Guide to Sex reconfigured what a sex manual could be and who it could be for. Written in an accessible style for audiences of all genders and orientations, it was one of the first to make liberal use of real people's voices, using customer comments throughout the book offering both techniques and feedback on the author’s information. Covering everything from masturbation to cyber sex, the guide hasn't been updated recently but still stands out as an important sex manual and one that everyone could learn a thing or two from.
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Sex With the Lights On

Caroll & Graf
This isn't a traditional sex manual, but it covers so many subjects and it's so great, that it deserves a place among more classic sex manuals. Ducky Doolittle has traveled the country for years giving entertaining and educational workshops on every sexual topic under the sun. Her book, which is subtitled "200 Illuminating Sex Questions Answered," is written as an extended Q& A session. It gives to-the-point sex advice and guidance with humor and compassion.
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Whole Lesbian Sex Book

Cleis Press
A fabulous guide to all aspects of lesbian sexuality, written for lesbian and bisexual readers of all ages, experience, and gender identities. In addition to covering the basics of sexual techniques and practices (form oral sex to sex toys to BDSM, fetishes, and cybersex) the Whole Lesbian Sex Book delves into often overlooked sexual health issues for lesbian and bisexual women as well as cultural and social commentary. Definitely an essential read for anyone interested in lesbian sex.
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Joy of Gay Sex

PriceGrabber
Probably resulting from the erroneous belief that all gay men know what they want and can ask for it, there still aren't any detailed sex manuals for men who identify as gay or bisexual. The Joy of Gay Sex has been updated and offers an overview of gay sex without a lot of how to details (and with a few bizarre entries I can't explain). It would be the book I'd pick up as an introduction to the topic, but I'd know that it would leave the reader with many questions and, unfortunately, only one place to look; the Internet.
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Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

Cleis Press
The most comprehensive and diverse sex manual geared to people living with disabilities and chronic illness and everyone having sex with them. The Ultimate Guide covers similar territory as the Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, but does so from the vantage point of people living with disabilities and chronic illness. Sex tips and techniques are combined with ways to deal with pain and fatigue, mobility issues, and other obstacles. From sex positions to Tantra and BDSM, the guide doesn't shy away from sexual explicitness. An extensive collection of resources at the end of the book and quotes from folks living with a wide range of disabilities make this a great resource. [full disclosure: I am a co-author of this book]
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Healing Sex

Cleis Press
Written for people who have experienced sexual trauma and want to build a positive sexual life for themselves, Healing Sex is a unique sex manual that I recommend to everyone, whether they've experienced sexual trauma or not. It covers all the basics of sex (pleasure, health, technique) but where it excels is in its approach to thinking about sex and making sexual choices. The opposite of a one-size-fits-all approach, Healing Sex encourages readers to know that they can create a sex life on their own terms that meet their needs in the here and now and that can change over time. I consider this book indispensable.
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Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex

Avery
In some ways Nina Hartley's Guide to Total Sex is exactly the sex manual you’d expect from a feminist porn-star who went through nursing school. It's accurate, it's got a sense of passion and fun, and it's unabashed in it's enthusiasm for good sex. Also, it doesn't shy away from giving explicit instruction yet manages to never feel pornographic (not that there's anything wrong with that). Topics range from sexual techniques and practices for singles, couples, threesomes and swingers to issues like communication, sexual ethics, and safety. This is not a book that could be accused of not being specific enough.
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