100 books like The Shape of Sex

By Leah Devun,

Here are 100 books that The Shape of Sex fans have personally recommended if you like The Shape of Sex. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Abortion in Early Modern Italy

Nora Jaffary Author Of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905

From my list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began gathering stories about pregnancy and its avoidance in Mexican archives twenty-five years ago when I was working on my dissertation on religious history. This topic fascinated me because it was central to the preoccupations of so many women I knew, and it seemed to present a link to past generations. But as I researched, I also realized that radical differences existed between the experiences and attitudes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexican women and the concerns, practices, and understandings of my own period that I had assumed were timeless and unchanging. For me, this was a liberating discovery. 

Nora's book list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history

Nora Jaffary Why did Nora love this book?

I appreciate Christopolous’ book because he renders concrete the abstract realm of papal pronouncements by studying their reception by sixteenth-century Italian women and their confessors. He also unearths the complexity of attitudes to abortion that existed even within the church establishment in this period.

When Pope Sixtus issued a 1588 edict declaring all who aborted their pregnancies were automatically excommunicated and reserving the right to absolve them to the papacy alone, bishops across Italy’s Renaissance states objected. They argued that neither they nor their confessants could afford to travel to Rome to seek absolution; they sought mercy and forgiveness for the women to whom they ministered.

With this example, and in other parts of his book, Christopolous treats his subjects with sensitivity and precision.

By John Christopoulos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Abortion in Early Modern Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive history of abortion in Renaissance Italy.

In this authoritative history, John Christopoulos provides a provocative and far-reaching account of abortion in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy. His poignant portraits of women who terminated or were forced to terminate pregnancies offer a corrective to longstanding views: he finds that Italians maintained a fundamental ambivalence about abortion. Italians from all levels of society sought, had, and participated in abortions. Early modern Italy was not an absolute anti-abortion culture, an exemplary Catholic society centered on the "traditional family." Rather, Christopoulos shows, Italians held many views on abortion, and their responses to its…


Book cover of True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Julie Hardwick Author Of Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660-1789

From my list on the history of sex.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like most people, I find the history of sex and everything associated with it fascinating! It’s often been difficult to document and interpret the complexities about heterosexuality, gender identity, and same-sex desire as well as women’s reproductive health which is intimately (although not exclusively of course) linked to sex. We are in a golden age of fantastic work on so many aspects of the history of sex. Apart from the intrinsic interest of these books, I think they provide such an important context for our very lively and often very intense contemporary legal, political, and cultural debates over sex in all its forms.

Julie's book list on the history of sex

Julie Hardwick Why did Julie love this book?

True Sex is one of the most timely history books I have ever read. Driving across rural America today, I wonder about the lives of trans men (and women) that Emily Skidmore so brilliantly recovered. In her emphasis on how unexceptional they were, she provides such a vital context for understanding the emerging visibility and claims of trans men and women today.

By Emily Skidmore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner, 2018 U.S. History PROSE Award
The incredible stories of how trans men assimilated into mainstream communities in the late 1800s
In 1883, Frank Dubois gained national attention for his life in Waupun, Wisconsin. There he was known as a hard-working man, married to a young woman named Gertrude Fuller. What drew national attention to his seemingly unremarkable life was that he was revealed to be anatomically female. Dubois fit so well within the small community that the townspeople only discovered his "true sex" when his former husband and their two children arrived in the town searching in desperation for…


Book cover of Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940

Julie Hardwick Author Of Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660-1789

From my list on the history of sex.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like most people, I find the history of sex and everything associated with it fascinating! It’s often been difficult to document and interpret the complexities about heterosexuality, gender identity, and same-sex desire as well as women’s reproductive health which is intimately (although not exclusively of course) linked to sex. We are in a golden age of fantastic work on so many aspects of the history of sex. Apart from the intrinsic interest of these books, I think they provide such an important context for our very lively and often very intense contemporary legal, political, and cultural debates over sex in all its forms.

Julie's book list on the history of sex

Julie Hardwick Why did Julie love this book?

Move over New York and Providence, Julio Capó illuminates in this dazzling book about queer life in Miami before World War II how an important early twentieth-century gay community emerged at the intersection of tourism, migration, and trade around the Caribbean. He not only provides a fascinating account of gay Miami but uses that community to tell a wider story about the history of the region.

By Julio Capó,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Welcome to Fairyland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Poised on the edge of the United States and at the center of a wider Caribbean world, today's Miami is marketed as an international tourist hub that embraces gender and sexual difference. As Julio Capo Jr. shows in this fascinating history, Miami's transnational connections reveal that the city has been a queer borderland for over a century. In chronicling Miami's queer past from its 1896 founding through World War II, Capo shows the multifaceted ways gender and sexual renegades made the city their own.

Drawing from a multilingual archive, Capo unearths the forgotten history of ""fairyland,"" a marketing term crafted…


Book cover of Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage

Julie Hardwick Author Of Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660-1789

From my list on the history of sex.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like most people, I find the history of sex and everything associated with it fascinating! It’s often been difficult to document and interpret the complexities about heterosexuality, gender identity, and same-sex desire as well as women’s reproductive health which is intimately (although not exclusively of course) linked to sex. We are in a golden age of fantastic work on so many aspects of the history of sex. Apart from the intrinsic interest of these books, I think they provide such an important context for our very lively and often very intense contemporary legal, political, and cultural debates over sex in all its forms.

Julie's book list on the history of sex

Julie Hardwick Why did Julie love this book?

In contrast to stereotypes about lesbians that framed them as bra-burning, men-hating, hairy-legged feminists, Lauren Gutterman evocatively shows how the emergence of post-World War II lesbian desire took place at the center of American life, in the suburbs, often in marriages to men and heterosexual families with children. Married women rejected divorce or labelling themselves as lesbians even while they had affairs with their female neighbors. Her Neighbor’s Wife offers an extraordinary new interpretation of how post-World War II American marriages could accommodate women’s relationships with other women.

By Lauren Jae Gutterman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Her Neighbor's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At first glance, Barbara Kalish fit the stereotype of a 1950s wife and mother. Married at eighteen, Barbara lived with her husband and two daughters in a California suburb, where she was president of the Parent-Teacher Association. At a PTA training conference in San Francisco, Barbara met Pearl, another PTA president who also had two children and happened to live only a few blocks away from her. To Barbara, Pearl was "the most gorgeous woman in the world," and the two began an affair that lasted over a decade.
Through interviews, diaries, memoirs, and letters, Her Neighbor's Wife traces the…


Book cover of Annabel

Leslie Larson Author Of Breaking Out of Bedlam

From my list on the power of family secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I child I wanted to know the information that was withheld from me. What were the adults whispering about? What were they hiding? Secrets, things that are hidden, have a way of shaping the lives around them, a dark space that exerts a presence, even though it isn’t seen. I thought if I found out the secret, maybe my family, and the world, would make sense. Breaking Out of Bedlam is my version of my grandmother’s story, based on the whispers I heard and a few faint clues—a newspaper clipping, a Bible, and a baby’s sock. More than that, it’s an explanation for the silence in my family, for my grandmother’s bitterness, her drug abuse, and depression.

Leslie's book list on the power of family secrets

Leslie Larson Why did Leslie love this book?

This haunting novel has stuck with me so vividly and in so many ways. Set in 1968, in a tiny village on the Labrador coast, it is the story of a baby born with both male and female genitalia to a hardscrabble couple barely eking out a living. They decide to raise the child as a boy, whom they name Wayne. Wayne’s parents keep the secret, even from him, and as he struggles to adopt the manly attributes expected of him, he can’t suppress his other self, a girl he calls Annabel, who insistently speaks from his innermost self. His journey to discovering who he truly is, and finding a way to express that self in a harsh and narrow environment is both painful and liberating.

By Kathleen Winter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador in the far north-east of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows up within the hyper-male hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self - a girl he thinks of as 'Annabel' - is…


Book cover of Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe

Albrecht Classen Author Of Tracing the Trails in the Medieval World: Epistemological Explorations, Orientation, and Mapping in Medieval Literature

From my list on the labyrinth of life through a medieval lens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a medievalist with a focus on German and European literature. Already with my Ph.D. diss. in 1987, I endeavored to explore interdisciplinary, interlingual connections (German-Italian), and much of my subsequent work (119 scholarly books so far) has continued with this focus. I have developed a large profile of studies on cultural, literary, social, religious, and economic aspects of the pre-modern era. In the last two decades or so, I have researched many concepts pertaining to the history of mentality, emotions, everyday-life conditions, and now also on transcultural and global aspects before 1800. Numerous books and articles have dealt with gender issues, communication, and historical and social conditions as expressed in literature. 

Albrecht's book list on the labyrinth of life through a medieval lens

Albrecht Classen Why did Albrecht love this book?

If you ever want to know what the medieval Church had to say about sex, love, marriage, and other related topics, you only need to draw from the relevant preachers’ manuals and Church lawbooks, which illuminate the entire spectrum of human failings which the Church condemned and punished in specific terms. It might be hilarious at times, but Brundage clearly unearths the concrete rules for the ordinary people when they were allowed to have sex during the year and under what conditions. Moreover, this is an eye-opening book about the official view of queerness in the Middle Ages.

By James A. Brundage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This monumental study of medieval law and sexual conduct explores the origin and develpment of the Christian church's sex law and the systems of belief upon which that law rested. Focusing on the Church's own legal system of canon law, James A. Brundage offers a comprehensive history of legal doctrines-covering the millennium from A.D. 500 to 1500-concerning a wide variety of sexual behavior, including marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, concubinage, prostitution, masturbation, and incest. His survey makes strikingly clear how the system of sexual control in a world we have half-forgotten has shaped the world in which we live today. The…


Book cover of It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book about Gender Identity

Sarah Warren Author Of Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice

From my list on to read when you don’t have the answers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d been a preschool teacher and a children’s author for years before I decided to become a mom. I was pretty sure I’d kill it at motherhood, I mean, I knew all the songs and I had lots of books. I was always up for giving advice to the caregivers at my school, heck, I was the perfect parent before my son was born. I knew everything then. Not anymore. Thank goodness for books. Over the years, my child has asked some tough questions, read on…you’ll see. Do they sound familiar? If so, these books might help you find your footing as you go looking for answers. 

Sarah's book list on to read when you don’t have the answers

Sarah Warren Why did Sarah love this book?

“Why is that dad wearing a dress?”

It wasn’t the first time my toddler commented on someone’s appearance in front of them, but I was convinced that his question sounded like a judgment. We have never left our grocery store so fast. I was angry. He was worried. Had he done something wrong? Yes! Maybe? I didn’t know. Had I? Yes. I wanted my family to be cool with all forms of gender expression, but I hadn’t built the common ground or the vocabulary to make that vision a reality. I’d projected my own fears, ignorance, and self-consciousness onto my child. I blew it. This book gave me words. We don’t assume anything about ourselves or other people anymore. I can see that my son’s curiosity comes from a place of sincerity and positivity. Now, I have the confidence to follow his lead.

By Theresa Thorn, Noah Grigni (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked It Feels Good to Be Yourself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between.

This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. Written by the mother of a transgender child and illustrated by a non-binary transgender artist, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.


Book cover of Ana on the Edge

Laurie Morrison Author Of Coming Up Short

From my list on for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved watching and playing sports, and now I love writing about them, too. As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how sporty books appeal to sporty kids. But after publishing my novel Up for Air, which is about a star swimmer, I’ve been struck by how many readers tell me they connected deeply with the main character even though they don’t like sports at all. That made me think about what makes sports stories resonate, and now I look out for books that capitalize on all the most exciting and relatable things about sports while also offering compelling hooks to readers with all sorts of interests.

Laurie's book list on for athletes and non-athletes alike

Laurie Morrison Why did Laurie love this book?

Ana on the Edge is a powerful novel about figure skating and gender identity that’s equally perfect for figure skating enthusiasts and kids looking for LGBTQIA+ stories. It’s obvious from the first page that the author is a figure skater who knows the sport intimately, but the sparkling skating scenes are just as fun and accessible for readers who watch the occasional Olympic figure skating competition as they would be for insiders. And the most special part of this book is the poignant way it depicts a kid who is figuring out the gender identity that feels right while competing in a very gendered sport. I loved Ana and could not put this book down; I know many readers will feel the same.

By A.J. Sass,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ana on the Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season's program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn't correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he's around. As their friendship develops,…


Book cover of Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age

Dorothy Littell Greco Author Of Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You

From my list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my 31 years of marriage, my husband and I have walked alongside couples who are preparing for marriage, in the throes of marriage, or trying to salvage their marriage. We get why it’s challenging and absolutely believe that there is hope and healing in the context of marriage for everyone. I’ve written two books on the topic and am passionate about helping couples find the resources they need to grow and strengthen their marriage covenants. Marriage books tend to be a bit shallow and offer quick fixes. We need honest, practical, wise resources if we want to grow. 

Dorothy's book list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life

Dorothy Littell Greco Why did Dorothy love this book?

We cannot escape the fact that we are sexual beings, who walk around every day with sexual longings and desires. But what does this have to do with faith? In a word, everything. Grant does a marvelous job challenging our presuppositions, pointing us toward Scripture, and helping us to create a powerfully healthy understanding of how our sexuality is meant to bring us joy and ease our aloneness.  

By Jonathan Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christianity Today Book Award Winner

The digital revolution has ushered in a series of sexual revolutions, all contributing to a perfect storm for modern relationships. Online dating, social media, internet pornography, and the phenomenon of the smartphone generation have created an avalanche of change with far-reaching consequences for sexuality today. The church has struggled to address this new moral ecology because it has focused on clarity of belief rather than quality of formation. The real challenge for spiritual formation lies in addressing the underlying moral intuitions we carry subconsciously, which are shaped by the convictions of our age.

In this…


Book cover of Faithful: A Theology of Sex

Dorothy Littell Greco Author Of Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You

From my list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my 31 years of marriage, my husband and I have walked alongside couples who are preparing for marriage, in the throes of marriage, or trying to salvage their marriage. We get why it’s challenging and absolutely believe that there is hope and healing in the context of marriage for everyone. I’ve written two books on the topic and am passionate about helping couples find the resources they need to grow and strengthen their marriage covenants. Marriage books tend to be a bit shallow and offer quick fixes. We need honest, practical, wise resources if we want to grow. 

Dorothy's book list on create and sustain a healthy marriage and sex life

Dorothy Littell Greco Why did Dorothy love this book?

Faithful: A Theology of Sex is an incredibly important read in a culture that tends to disregard any connection between faith and sexuality. Felker-Jones goes deep and wide. I appreciated her insights on the importance of how we steward our bodies and our sexuality and how this affects both our faith and our marriage covenant. The author makes a compelling case for how “a theology of sexuality demonstrates sex is not about legalistic morals with no basis in reality but rather about the God who is faithful to us.” 

By Beth Felker Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many believers accept traditional Christian sexual morality but have very little idea why it matters for the Christian life. In Faithful, author Beth Felker Jones sketches a theology of sexuality that demonstrates sex is not about legalistic morals with no basis in reality but rather about the God who is faithful to us.

In Hosea 2:19-20 God says to Israel, "I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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