100 books like What is Sex?

By Alenka Zupancic,

Here are 100 books that What is Sex? fans have personally recommended if you like What is Sex?. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

This is one of the first books that “blew my mind” when I was a young university student: it remains the one I constantly return to because it seeks to understand the psychoanalytic foundations of racism under French colonialism.

Fanon was only 27 when his book was first published in 1952, but his reflections provide a stunningly passionate and layered view on how anti-Black racism (de)forms the subjectivity of both white and Black people, locking them into constructions of whiteness/blackness that require constant questioning.

His arguments on the psychoanalytic and political underpinnings of racism remain as relevant today as they were in his time.

By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Black Skin, White Masks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks  represents some of his most important work. Fanon’s masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers.
A major influence on civil rights, anti-colonial, and black consciousness movements around the world, Black Skin, White Masks is the unsurpassed study of the black psyche in a white world. Hailed for its scientific analysis and poetic grace when it was first published in 1952, the book remains a…


Book cover of Capital: Volume I

William Clare Roberts Author Of Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

From my list on understanding how power works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher, a student, and a reader by trade (that is, a university professor), and I spend most of my time trying to understand social and political power: why some people have it, and others don’t, how it circulates and changes (gradually or suddenly), why it sometimes oppresses us and sometimes liberates, how it can be created and destroyed. I mostly do this by reading and teaching the history of political theory, which I am lucky enough to do at McGill University, in conversation and cooperation with some wonderful colleagues.

William's book list on understanding how power works

William Clare Roberts Why did William love this book?

I have spent more time with this book than with probably any other, and I still learn new things from it all the time.

Parts of it are very hard, but that’s because Marx is trying to show how the whole world is put into motion by economic power, money, and competition. But he also knows how to liven up even very technical parts of the argument with dark humor, arresting images, and biting sarcasm. 

By Karl Marx, Ben Fowkes (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Capital as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking work of economic analysis. It is also a literary masterpice' Francis Wheen, Guardian

One of the most notorious and influential works of modern times, Capital is an incisive critique of private property and the social relations it generates. Living in exile in England, where this work was largely written, Marx drew on a wide-ranging knowledge of its society to support his analysis. Arguing that capitalism would cause an ever-increasing division in wealth and welfare, he predicted its abolition and replacement by a system with common ownership of the means of production. Capital rapidly acquired readership throughout the world,…


Book cover of The Sublime Object of Ideology

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

For me, Žižek is the most brilliant and insightful, even if controversial, philosopher of our times, and this work is largely considered his masterpiece.

Drawing on popular culture (movies, jokes, science fiction), it provides a psychoanalytic view of ideology, exploring the unconscious foundations of such phenomena as totalitarianism, capitalism, and racism.

Žižek beckons us to pay close attention to any ideology that attempts to present reality as unified or harmonious (e.g., “Make America Great Again,” or “happy shopping”), as it most often hides (“disavows,” in psychoanalysis) its many contradictions (e.g., how “greatness” is often built on a history of colonialism or slavery; or how consumerism most often depends on the exploitation of workers, many of whom are women and racialized people working under sweatshop conditions). 

By Slavoj Zizek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slavoj Zizek, the maverick philosopher, author of over 30 books, acclaimed as the "Elvis of cultural theory", and today's most controversial public intellectual. His work traverses the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, theology, history and political theory, taking in film, popular culture, literature and jokes-all to provide acute analyses of the complexities of contemporary ideology as well as a serious and sophisticated philosophy. His recent films The Pervert's Guide to the Cinema and Zizek! reveal a theorist at the peak of his powers and a skilled communicator. Now Verso is making his classic titles, each of which stand as a core…


Book cover of Postcolonial Lack: Identity, Culture, Surplus

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

Relying on contemporary literary writing and films (e.g., Amitav Ghosh, Leila Aboulela, Black Panther, Gran Torino), Basu Thakur carries out a compelling psychoanalytic critique of postcoloniality (the study of global processes of exclusion and marginalization).

He reproaches it for focusing too much on questions of identity and difference (e.g., making political claims on the basis of gender, racialization, or sexual orientation). And feeding too easily into cultures of victimhood and neoliberal political economy (e.g., the commodification of women’s and racialized and LGBTQ+ people’s identities).

He stresses instead a psychoanalytic politics of lack and excess, whose negativity resists commodification and paves the way to postcolonial emancipation.

By Gautam Basu Thakur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Postcolonial Lack reconvenes dialogue between Lacanian psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory in order to expand the range of cultural analyses of the former and make the latter theoretically relevant to the demands of contemporary narratives of othering, exclusion, and cultural appropriation. Seeking to resolve the mutual suspicion between the disciplines, Gautam Basu Thakur draws out the connections existing between Lacan's teachings on subjectivity and otherness and writings of postcolonial and decolonial theorists such as Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, and Homi Bhabha. By developing new readings of the marginalized other as radical impasse and pushing the envelope on neoliberal identity politics, the…


Book cover of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

Andrew S. Trees Author Of Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction

From my list on to help you have better relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in New York City for a number of years, and my female friends would constantly buy dating advice books and then complain about how bad these books were. One night at dinner, I suggested that there must be some legitimate scientifically-based advice that would actually be helpful, and I was laughed out of the room. Decoding Love was born in that moment. What I found overturned almost all of my preconceptions about dating and relationships. I hope it will overturn some of your preconceptions as well.

Andrew's book list on to help you have better relationships

Andrew S. Trees Why did Andrew love this book?

Although we like to think that we are idiosyncratic individuals pursuing our perfect match, the truth is that evolution has hardwired into us many preferences and dislikes. This book is a really good introduction to the often surprising role evolution plays in shaping desire. Buss has undertaken a massive study of thousands of people and dozens of cultures to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. While I don't think we need to simply give in to evolution, it is an enormous help to have a sense of what role evolution plays.

By David M. Buss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question we must look into our evolutionary past, argues prominent psychologist David M. Buss. Based one of the largest studies of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide, The Evolution of Desire is the first work to present a unified theory of human mating behaviour. Drawing on a wide range of examples of mating behaviour,from lovebugs to elephant seals, from the Yanomamoe tribe of Venezuela to online dating apps,Buss reveals what women…


Book cover of Beyond Sexuality

Merrill Cole Author Of The Other Orpheus: A Poetics of Modern Homosexuality

From my list on queer theory to gain an understanding of the field.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been pondering philosophical questions and trying to understand my queer sexuality since childhood. While checking out The Portable Nietzsche in my high school library, the librarian warned me the philosopher was “a bad man.” Then I had to read the book, which not only taught me to become critical of all forms of authority, but also, perhaps paradoxically, empowered me to embrace my queerness. As a college and graduate student, I studied many of the American academic movements based in Continental philosophy grouped under the rubric, “theory.” When queer theory emerged in the early 1990s’, I found a place for myself. I'm convinced that we should never stop putting our identities under critique.

Merrill's book list on queer theory to gain an understanding of the field

Merrill Cole Why did Merrill love this book?

Beyond Sexuality is the most consequential psychoanalytic intervention in queer theory.

Much of queer theory has used Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality to reject or downplay psychoanalysis. Dean argues that psychoanalysis, particularly in the writings and seminars of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, offers a far more useful theoretical model.

Such theorists as Judith Butler misconstrue sexual desire by focusing on identity, rather than language and its effects. Desire, according to psychoanalysis, does not arise from our identifications—not even our gender identifications—but from the failures of identity. Desire is not constructed in language but manifests precisely where language breaks down.

Beyond Sexuality also offers a psychoanalytic reading of HIV/AIDS in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis.

By Tim Dean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining psychoanalytic emphasis on the unconscious with a respect for the historical variability of sexual identities, this work of queer theory makes the case for vewing erotic desire as fundamentally impersonal. Dean develops a reading of Jacques Lacan that - rather than straightening out this notoriously difficult French psychoanalyst - brings out the queer tensions and productive incoherencies in his account of desire. Dean shows that Lacanian unconscious "deheterosexualizes" desire, and along the way he reveals how psychoanalytic thinkers as well as queer theorists have failed to exploit the full potential of this conception of desire. The book elaborates this…


Book cover of Woman's Mysteries: Ancient & Modern

Pamela Braswell Author Of Rising from Rape: A Memoir of Survival and Justice

From my list on overcoming rape and building higher self esteem.

Why am I passionate about this?

My experience is derived from actual experience and my fight to survive. I found it within me to keep my wits about me and think, think, think about my surroundings and my assailant's movements and vulnerabilities. I waited for the one and only moment I would have to escape. Once free, I sought help and I told my story again and again until I found justice.

Pamela's book list on overcoming rape and building higher self esteem

Pamela Braswell Why did Pamela love this book?

It introduced me to the status of women in ancient times when society worshipped the moon, a feminine deity. Women led religious rituals and they were regarded as the givers of life. By contrast, by the time of King David, man worshipped the Sun, a male deity, and women's status was lowered to become regarded as mere bearers of life.

By M. Esther Harding,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here is a classic study of the feminine principle in myths, dreams, and religious symbolism. In presenting the archetypal foundations of feminine psychology, the author shows how the ancient religious initiations of the moon goddess symbolized the development of the emotions. Understanding the psychological meaning of these initiations, she believes, can help to heal the troubled relations between men and women today.


Book cover of Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex: Releasing the Passion Within

Ruth Buezis Author Of Awaken Love: The Truth About Sex that will Transform Your Marriage

From my list on to help Christians create an amazing sex life.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I decided to work on my sex life, I devoured both Christian and secular books looking for answers. I not only wanted to understand God’s design for sex, but I also needed help learning to create the amazing sex life that God wanted for me. Since that time, I have taught Awaken Love classes to thousands of Christian women and heard their stories. I continue to look for resources that are empowering for wives, within God’s boundaries, in line with women’s experiences, practical and thought-provoking.

Ruth's book list on to help Christians create an amazing sex life

Ruth Buezis Why did Ruth love this book?

Taking a more holistic approach, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex explores the world of women who experience sex in the most connecting, pleasurable ways. Moving beyond mechanics, it helped me understand the importance of unlocking inhibitions, being present, and discovering my own eroticism in order to experience a deep connection with my husband. God has more for us to experience if we are open to it. 

By Sandra Scantling, Sue Browder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Looks at the phenomenon of `supersex` women who can experience sex at an intense level. Based on research with hundreds of women the author shows how these feelings can be experienced by everyone.


Book cover of Thy Neighbor's Wife

Michael E. Long Author Of The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race

From my list on finding your place in the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m interested in everything – which is a problem, because there’s not time for everything. So how do you find the best of the world and your own place in it? Understanding your motivations is a good place to start, hence The Molecule of More. The rest comes from exploring as much as you can, and that begins with understanding the scope of what’s out there: ideas, attitudes, and cultures. The greatest joy in my life comes from the jaw-dropping realization that the world is so full of potential and wonder. These books are a guide to some of the best of it, and some of the breadth of it.

Michael's book list on finding your place in the world

Michael E. Long Why did Michael love this book?

Every generation believes that they see further and think deeper – and weirder – than every one that came before. From this perspective, we imagine that we can do everything differently that those who preceded us. In this book, one of the creators of the so-called New Journalism shows just how wrong we are. In particular, Talese provides a tour of the history of sexual mores, how cultures reflect those mores, and how tradition turns out to be a more powerful cultural magnet than we expect. We can try to make our own new ways in a lot of areas, but the biological pull we all experience invariably pulls us back to a few tendencies and trends we will likely never shake as a species.

By Gay Talese,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The provocative classic work newly updated

An intimate personal odyssey across America's changing sexual landscape

When first published, Gay Talese's 1981 groundbreaking work, Thy Neighbor's Wife, shocked a nation with its powerful, eye-opening revelations about the sexual activities and proclivities of the American public in the era before AIDS. A marvel of journalistic courage and craft, the book opened a window into a new world built on a new moral foundation, carrying the reader on a remarkable journey from the Playboy Mansion to the Supreme Court, to the backyards and bedrooms of suburbia—through the development of the porn industry, the…


Book cover of Desire: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating Libido Differences in Relationships

Laurie Mintz Author Of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters--And How to Get It

From my list on improving your sex life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before children, I had a robust sex drive. When my second daughter was born, poof—it disappeared. Upon asking, I discovered that my friends were also struggling. I immersed myself in the research literature and found solutions—yet was dismayed that this information wasn’t readily available to women. So, I translated the scientific literature into an accessible self-help book. My passion was ignited. I immersed myself in sex education and therapy, publishing my second book based on the experiences of students in a university-level human sexuality course I teach. I find deep meaning translating sexual science for the lay public and helping people gain knowledge and comfort with sex.

Laurie's book list on improving your sex life

Laurie Mintz Why did Laurie love this book?

When I chatted with the authors about their motivation to write this book, they said that they wanted to write a book on desire that they’d feel comfortable recommending to diverse clients, as none currently existed.

I not only agree with their assessment, but I was excited to see that they accomplished their goal! As a sex therapist, I can affirm that desire is one of the most confusing and troubling issues that individuals and couples bring to therapy.

This book explains desire, normalizes desire differences, and provides an inclusive and compassionate road map to clients struggling with it. I plan to recommend this book to many clients for years to come.

By Lauren Fogel Mersy, Jennifer A. Vencill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A radically inclusive, sex-positive guide to managing the inevitable libido differences in our relationships, authored by two certified sex therapists who are passionate about good sex

Desire invites readers of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and relationship structures to shed the shame and misinformation that surround the topic of sex and instead learn from 2 certified sex therapists about how libido really works. Desire differences are one of the most common relationship issues, yet, with fewer than 1,100 certified sex therapists in the country, it can be difficult to find help. This essential book breaks the mold of the sex…


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