The best books about being emotionally monogamous and sexually promiscuous

Why am I passionate about this?

I am someone who has lived a number of different lives. Although I loved being a father and husband I knew I wasn’t being authentic. At 45 that all changed utterly when I finally came out as gay – and accepted myself for perhaps the very first time in my life. However, even before coming out I was a professional writer – it was my only way to make sense of the world. But I also knew that although a successful writer I wasn’t a truthful one – and the most beautiful thing in life is discovering your own truth, isn’t it? Join me here in a safe space to experience yours.


I wrote...

How to Have a Perfect Marriage: A BBC Radio 4 Comedy Drama

By Nicholas McInerny,

Book cover of How to Have a Perfect Marriage: A BBC Radio 4 Comedy Drama

What is my book about?

Jack and Karen are a happily-married couple. They've been together for years and are convinced every problem can be worked through. Until Karen finds an odd text on Jack's phone, and her confrontation leads to a shock revelation: Jack is gay, and he wants a male lover.

Seeking stability for themselves and their teenage children, they settle on a 'closed loop' arrangement, whereby they stay together and Jack has a boyfriend. So begins a new type of marriage, where small deceptions and unspoken fantasies are replaced with radical honesty. But can they make this work for everyone?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ethical Slut

Nicholas McInerny Why did I love this book?

When I first went to Burning Man in 2004 I met some wonderful friends committed to Polyamory.

As I was in the middle of my own sexual journey I found their lives a real challenge to old ideas around monogamy. They recommended The Ethical Slut and I read it avidly – it seemed to open up a whole new way of loving, of living, and of self-acceptance. It’s now widely considered a classic, and this 20th Anniversary edition updates with particular emphasis on issues around consent.

If you are curious, dive in!

By Janet W. Hardy, Dossie Easton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ethical Slut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic guide to love, sex, and intimacy beyond the limits of conventional monogamy has been fully updated to reflect today’s modern attitudes and the latest information on nontraditional relationships. 

“One of the most useful relationship books you could ever read, no matter what your lifestyle choices. It’s chock-full of great information about communication, jealousy, asking for what you want, and maintaining a relationship with integrity.”—Annie Sprinkle, PhD, sexologist and author of Dr. Sprinkle’s Spectacular Sex 

For 20 years The Ethical Slut—widely known as the “Poly Bible”—has dispelled myths and showed curious readers how to maintain a successful polyamorous lifestyle…


Book cover of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence

Nicholas McInerny Why did I love this book?

Because modern romance promises it all – togetherness, intimacy, and erotic desire for life, it makes it hard to want what apparently you already have. Security and adventure are incompatible, aren’t they?

Reading this book you can discover ways to reconcile the erotic and domestic. Esther Perel challenges our old habits and invites us to reinvent ourselves as mysterious, distant, maybe even uncertain. And that’s how to keep the candle of lust alive. 

Full of brilliant insights and perhaps a counterargument to The Ethical Slut.

By Esther Perel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mating in Captivity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York City therapist examines the paradoxical relationship between domesticity and sexual desire and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

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,…


Book cover of Giovanni's Room

Nicholas McInerny Why did I love this book?

Set in Paris, with David the sexually conflicted central character who has an affair with the doomed Giovanni.

This book – written in 1956 – is an incredibly brave exploration by Baldwin into Gay/Bi sexuality – breaking new ground in LGBTQ+ representation whilst at the same time creating an atmosphere of almost stereotypically gay angst – perhaps even initiating some of the cliches around gay life that were to become mainstream – and used by heterosexual society against us.

That doesn’t stop it being a novella of great significance and febrile passion – like a passionate quickie up against the wall!

By James Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Giovanni's Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend's return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened - while Giovanni's life descends into tragedy.

United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love's endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love,…


Book cover of Urban Aboriginals: A Celebration of Leathersexuality

Nicholas McInerny Why did I love this book?

Part manifesto, part archive of a fascinating and alluring sub-culture, Geoff Mains's book explores the possibilities of extreme encounters through pain/pleasure, BDSM, and role play in the leather community.

It’s not sensationalist although it examines ideas around sensation. It celebrates performance whilst honoring intimacy. It’s a book that would offer a reader of every sexuality an insight into some of their own fantasies and how to access them safely, and meaningfully.

I read it like I would read an exhaustive and tempting menu – picking out items I might like to taste myself and learning a great deal in the process. 

By Geoff Mains,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Urban Aboriginals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A subculture of gay men participate in a radical form of sexuality and community known as leather. Through intimate forms of encounter, using such tools as pain-pleasure, bondage, and role-play, leather can bring a shift of conciousness and a new vision of the self. This innovative book pioneered in sensitively exploring and celebrating leathersexuality. As relevant today as when it was written 20 years ago, Urban Aboriginals is an intimate view of the gay male leather community. Within its pages, author Geoff Mains explores the spritual, sexual, emotional, cultural and physiological aspects that make this "scene" one of the most…


Book cover of The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

Nicholas McInerny Why did I love this book?

When I first came out – at 45! – this book became the whisper on every new gay friend’s lips – you must read this. You may not agree with it all, but please read.

Alan Downs explores the impact of growing up and surviving as a gay man in a society – he examines why we are both massive over-achievers in career and status, whilst simultaneously massively indulging in a hedonistic lifestyle that can be destructive. He’s particularly good at skewering issues around shame and anger, and the importance of primary relationships, for example with our Fathers.

I believe this book – a quick, vital read – can inform so much debate about self-acceptance and be genuinely empowering.

By Alan Downs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Velvet Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking and empowering book examines the impact of growing up and surviving as a gay man in a society still learning to accept all identities.

In The Velvet Rage, psychologist Alan Downs draws on his own struggle with shame and anger, contemporary research, and stories from his patients to passionately describe the stages of a gay man's journey out of shame and offers practical and inspired strategies to stop the cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior. The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that has already changed the public discourse on gay culture and helped shape the identity of…


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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gay men, romantic love, and non-monogamy?

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