This comprehensive BDSM book list includes synopses so that you can get an idea of the book’s content and make up your own mind about whether you think it will be useful to you or not.
It is in three parts:
PART 1: My Thoughts
PART 2: Not My Thoughts, book list from Andrea Zanin
PART 3: Also Not My Thoughts, book list from ResidentSadist
PART 1: My Thoughts
- How to Make Your First BDSM Scene Amazing (for dominant women)
How to Handle Disobedience (for dominant women)
How to Write an Awesome Profile (for submissive men)
How to Find a Dominant Woman (for submissive men)
By Sharyn Ferns (you know this is me, right?)
Practical, step-by-step ‘how to’ guides designed for new dominants and submissives who want no-nonsense, actionable help to get a head start.
No filler, no fluff: 100% usable advice that will give you the practical steps you need to get shit done.
Each book covers the foundation of each of the topics, including simple actionable steps and examples that provide a solid base from which to explore and grow your confidence. If you’re just stepping into the BDSM world and want a strong starting point from which you can find your feet, this series is for you.
- Domme Chronicles: Erotic tales of love, passion, & domination
by Sharyn Ferns
It’s non-fiction, but it’s erotica, not a reference book. Hot, real-life vignettes about F/m play and interactions. Obviously I think it’s scorching, and it’s usefulness in this list is in showing how a F/m D/s dynamic can be loving and affectionate while covering a range of different play from kissing (why yes, kissing CAN be D/s!) to flogging to caning to needles. Great read for inspiring the imagination and for getting away from femdom stereotypes for both sides of the slash.
- Happy Femdom Stories Volume 1
Happy Femdom Stories Volume 2
By Sharyn Ferns
Joyful stories from dominant women and submissive men talking about how they found their D/s partners and what happened next.
Not educational, but hopeful and uplifting true-life stories for those times when you want to know what’s possible.
- Uniquely Rika
by Ms Rika
I recommend this book to quite a few F/m newbies on both sides of the slash because it’s one of the few books about female domination that talks about building a D/s relationship that debunks the myth that dominance is all about ‘what the dominant will do to their submissive’ in favour of ‘what the submissive can do for her’. That’s rare. The book has a very practical and common sense approach to relationship building.
I wasn’t keen on the ‘true’-type language or the way it characterised anything the dominant wanted as ‘service’ which seemed to ignore ‘play because hot and awesome’. I don’t think that’s what the author intended, but it’s still the impression I got from it and that didn’t sit well with me. Still a great book to bring a realistic and sustainable dominant-focussed perspective to the table.
- Family Jewels: A guide to male genital play and torment
by Hardy Haberman
An easy to read guide to cock and ball torture (CBT). It covers basic anatomy, types of play, techniques, ideas and safety. It includes some diagrams also and some really corny, cute and funny stories that are best read out loud to each other to break the ice…
- Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macrame
by Lee Harrington
This is a great guide for beginners that runs through shibari basics (safety, types of rope etc) and then walks through some simple ties with instructions and pictures (including some pictures of men, which is rare in these kinds of books) and increases in complexity as you go through it. The structure has you flipping back and forth to do the more complex ties because it tells you to do something that was on page 77 (YOU ALREADY LEARNT THAT, IDIOT!) and then you come back to the page you started on for the next steps. Among others, it includes shinju (chest harnesses), gyakuebi (Asian hogtie), and a strap on harness (ooh!). I know very little about rope and have no experience and many ties were about the right level for me to learn and play with.
- Showing You the Ropes
by The Knotty Boys
Split into basic, decorative, domination and sex bondage, western style I guess (as opposed to Japanese style). I found the book pretty good for a beginner. The Knotty Boys also have videos up on youtube and I must admit that I prefer to learn from those, but the book is pretty solid, instructions are clear, unfortunately no male bottoms at all.
PART 2: Not My Thoughts:
D/s and M/s Relationships: An Annotated Reading List
-reposted from SexGeek with kind permission from Andrea Zanin*
*Some content edited out for brevity, please see links above for the full, unedited version
This reading list is structured as follows. Just click on your area of interest.
Relationship-based power dynamics
- General (for both sides of the slash)
- Focus on mastery/dominance
- Focus on submission/slavery
- D/s and non-monogamy
Fantasy- or fetish-oriented power dynamics
Relationship-based power dynamics
General (for both sides of the slash)
- Mastering Mind: Dominants with Mental Illness & Neurological Dysfunction and Broken Toys: Submissives with Mental Illness & Neurological Dysfunction
ed. Del Tashlin and Raven Kaldera
This pair of books represent the only works I’ve read that directly deal with the issues of mental health within D/s relationships. They’re worth reading as a pair because they contain split interviews with each half of certain pairs. There’s lots missing, including understandings of mental health that are not placed squarely in the framework of Western diagnosis; and some of the personal narratives made me raise an eyebrow, in that I’m not entirely sure I trust in the ultimate okay-ness of some of the dynamics that people describe. But there are many nuggets of wisdom as well. I salute the bravery of each contributor and the editors for opening up such a fraught, complex and necessary conversation.
- Paradigms of Power: Styles of Master/Slave Relationships
ed. Raven Kaldera
This is one of the most inspiring, thought-provoking books I’ve ever read on M/s relationships. Kaldera has managed to gather together a shockingly wide range of writers, each describing their particular style of M/s. And by style, I mean aesthetic and historical inspiration and models, running the gamut from Leather to 1950s household to Victorian to CEO/COO. M/s literature is so overwhelmingly influenced by Leather culture that it can seem hegemonic. Kaldera’s book shows how very wrong that impression is, even if other facets of M/s may have less of an established publishing culture. I learned something new from each and every essay.
- Partners In Power: Living in Kinky Relationships
by Jack Rinella
A wonderful 101-level exploration of the nature of kinky relationships, how to meet people and how to get what you want. This is Rinella at his best – truly one of the highest-quality books he’s ever produced.
- Leading and Supportive Love: The Truth about Dominant and Submissive Relationships
by Chris M. Lyon
Lyon avoids all discussion of kink, fetish and BDSM, and eschews Master/slave language in favour of terminology that registers as more classically psychotherapy-ish. But this is all good stuff; it keeps the focus exactly where it needs to be as opposed to muddying the waters as so many resources do. It lays out the basics of how chosen power dynamics work, and describes the general personality types of those who engage in them in a healthy way. (How amazing to see oneself as “typical” for once!) It suggests potential problem areas and gentle solutions for them, and above all, it validates the great potential for these relationships’ strength and durability.
- Building the Team: Cooperative Power Dynamic Relationships
by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny
An excellent overview of how to move away from an adversarial dynamic and into a cooperative one. The idea of an adversarial M/s relationships seems oxymoronic to me, but the book does detail the ways in which they can be useful, or for whom they might be suited. Mostly, though, this book describes how to engage in a mutually beneficial, collaborative partnership that happens to be based in chosen inequality, and it does an excellent job. In some ways it all seems terribly basic, but having the basics laid out in such a clear, practical fashion is useful, and it’s telling that these foundational concepts aren’t easy to find in other books.
- Dear Raven and Joshua: Questions and Answers about Master/Slave Relationships
by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny
The single most down-to-earth tome on full-time M/s relationships that I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. Answers the questions you didn’t know how to ask and in so doing provides an excellent jumping-off point for many a rich discussion.
- Master/slave Relations: Handbook of Theory and Practice
by Robert J. Rubel
This is a great book to get you thinking about how to structure your D/s relationship. He’s quirky and some of his personal values may not resonate with you, but he’s extremely clear and logical in his thinking and writing.
- Delving Into Power: The Workbook [Ferns note: I could not find this book online anywhere]
by Lee Harrington
As this workbook is designed to accompany Harrington’s weekend intensive, it may be best read when you’ve done the intensive, but I think it holds up quite well on its own as well. Primarily a think tool focused on rituals and protocols, it has some useful concepts, especially his use of the classic “love languages” as applied to power relationships, distinctions between process and outcome in task accomplishment, and approaches to apology and reconnection once mistakes have been made.
- At Her Feet: Powering Your Femdom Relationship
by TammyJo Eckhart and Fox
A solid walk-through of a female dominant / male submissive relationship. It covers all the requisite ground, and does so competently, with the occasional genuine gem of wisdom thrown in. I particularly like their breakdown of the various types and meanings of love, for instance. And I definitely appreciate their discussion of how illness and disability have impacted their relationship. But oddly, the authors’ focus on the how eclipses a deeper discussion of the why – what is so satisfying, what motivates them, what made them choose this in the first place? I want more.
- Living M/s: A Book for Masters, slaves and Their Relationships
by Dan and Dawn Williams
Written in short, conversational vignettes, Living M/s is part personal narrative and part 101-level M/s conceptual framing. Dan and Dawn own their biases pretty well, and their commitment to each other really shines; they come across as grounded and pleasantly lacking in self-aggrandizement. Though I deeply disagree with some of their approaches (M/s time-outs being a biggie), the book is not without its insights, especially in Dawn’s writing on her experiences of slavery. But considering how it’s more about philosophy than technique or analysis, for the most part I found it too surface-level. For instance the chapter on M/s ethics is barely a page long. I wanted so much more! Also it needs a good edit for structure and style. Still, a rare and worthy insight into the everyday workings of an everyday M/s pair.
- Master/slave Relations: Solutions 402: Living in Harmony
by Robert J. Rubel
Rubel is a solid writer with a keen mind, and pleasantly quirky. He’s the peanut butter in an M/s sandwich, as master of one woman and slave to another, which lends him a somewhat unusual (and very helpful) perspective. What he’s done here, more or less, is survey a selection of business management, interpersonal communication and self-help literature, and translate the principles into strategies for managing M/s relationships when things start to go badly. It’s practical, logical, systematic advice, and it’s a really great grab bag of tools for folks doing M/s. As well, his approach is wonderfully open and non-prescriptive. He doesn’t get much into the spirituality of things, and his examples are clearly taken from his own family’s experience, as well as reflecting the fairly high level of privilege he carries in the world. And by all that is holy, DO NOT take his advice to read that awful Mars/Venus book which shall not be named here. But overall, this book has plenty going for it. I can see room for several sequels along these lines.
- Order for Discipline and Service Handbook
by the Order for Discipline and Service
The late Jack McGeorge was a renowned master who put decades of time into the United States’ M/s community despite being someone with a high public profile in his work life. I met him at a workshop he gave many years ago and was impressed with his thinking then. Reading the ODS handbook today – basically the collected mission, goals, values, policies and procedures for his M/s household – confirms my first excellent impression. This brief book is a real gift to anyone who would like to see a clearly written, deeply ethical, highly structured model. You don’t need to adopt it or agree with everything in it – I don’t! – to find it extremely useful as a starting point for articulating your own. This book will help you grasp the mindset and values that can underpin any dedicated lifetime pursuit of M/s – including that of questioning others’ stated mindsets and values.
- The Forked Tongue: A Handbook for Treating People Badly
This book is essentially about psychological edge play, with chapters on hypnosis, interrogation, mindfucks and the like. It’s a little bit “I’m Batman” in terms of tone, but overall very well written, and I appreciate the way the author centres ethical concerns in every chapter. That said, it’s also quite short, so more of an overview than a true how-to. He writes about his engagement in full-time power dynamics, and puts forward some useful ideas about them, but he doesn’t go into a lot of detail. The powerful personal narrative he provides in the afterword would have been better placed as a foreword, because it really gives you a sense of where he’s coming from. A worthwhile read, but it definitely left me wishing it had been about five times as long, or possibly a series. Sadly I’m told the author passed away in 2008 (he mentions health problems in the book) so that wish will not be fulfilled. I’m glad this book exists.
- The Control Book
by Peter Masters
Exactly what it sounds like. And therefore, mostly pretty off-putting, at least to me. Masters has lots of well-developed and well-articulated thoughts on the how-tos of control, but very little on the ethics of it, or the motivations for it. In fact he doesn’t discuss consent at all, and some of his recommendations veer heavily into the manipulative. It’s not a useless book – his section on the process of giving over and taking up control is interesting, to be sure – but it’s very narrow in its focus and oddly joyless.
- The Master’s Manual: A Handbook of Erotic Dominance
by Jack Rinella
This book is in fact not a manual, nor it is a handbook, nor is it for masters. What it is, in fact, is a collection of 40 of Jack Rinella’s columns about leather and kink from Gay Chicago Magazine, and while it does seem intended for a leather/kink-oriented readership (a gay male one, most particularly), it’s fairly general-interest in scope within that realm. Still, his sections on equality, power and civilization are excellent, and very on-topic for an M/s readership. See my full review here.
- My Mentor, My Guide: A Handbook for Daddies and Boys for the New Generation
by Blade T. Bannon
I get the impression that Blade T. Bannon is a solid guy with a really good set of personal values that apply very well to Daddy/boy relationships and similar configurations. His thoughts on the types of people that tend to make good daddies are useful, his listing of common pitfalls in such relationships is very sensible, and I really appreciate his thoughtfulness in discussing issues of personal responsibility and sexual ethics in the gay men’s community (drug use, HIV, barebacking and more) as well as his no-nonsense views on the historic impact of AIDS on leathermen. Unfortunately, this book is so mired in errors that the content is hard to absorb. If someone scrubbed out the writing clichés, deleted the dungeon-scene digressions and random ramblings, and cleaned up the unbelievably high number of atrocious spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes (Mahat Magandi? Really?), the book would be reduced to pamphlet length. From there, a great editor would push him to get at some of the deeper underpinnings of his ideas and principles. Now that would be a worthwhile read.
- The leatherboy Handbook
boy Vincent L. Andrews
I couldn’t get through it. I’ve rarely come across writing with this much unashamed One True Way-ism! Did you know there was a set of strict rules and definitions governing the difference between a “mentor” and a “guardian”? Twenty years in the Leather community and I sure didn’t! Or that a “slave” gives up all rights to negotiate once they enter their relationship and can never leave? Um, no, dude, that’s really not how it works. When we got to the part where he says “prostitutes have no part in our lifestyle,” which came shortly after some jaw-dropping statements about how submissives crave the stability of dominance because they can’t manage their own lives, I was like, okay, I’m done. This guy’s full of shit.
- Slavecraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude – Principles, Skills and Tools
by a grateful slave with Guy Baldwin
This book is written from the perspective of a gay male slave who occasionally says things in a way that betrays a certain amount of misogyny, and the copy editing is enough to make me gnash my teeth (Daedelus argh! Hire an editor!). Nonetheless I strongly recommend it. It’s extremely insightful when it comes to mindset and emotional dimensions of submission, and presents a number of very useful concepts.
- Conquer Me: Girl-to-Girl Wisdom about Fulfilling Your Submissive Desires
by Kacie Cunningham
Highly recommended. One of the things I like about this book is how little of it is really “girl-to-girl” and how much of it is simply human-to-human. The title was pretty off-putting to me, but in truth it’s one of the books I’ve read on the topic of D/s and M/s that’s least mired conventionally gendered assumptions. By-and-for submission advice is hard to come by, too, so it’s a standout for that alone. Mostly, though, she does away with the fantasy crap and cuts to the chase of what day-to-day living is like when you’re in a full-time power relationship. She packs a lot of powerful questions and concepts into every page. Cunningham is a clear, precise writer; she tackles a wide range of common M/s pitfalls and challenges and offers the solutions she’s found along her journey without ever coming across as prescriptive. In so doing, she emerges as a warm, sensible voice, both powerful and humble. I hope to see more from her.
- Becoming a Slave: The Theory and Practice of Voluntary Servitude
by Jack Rinella with Reflections by his Slave Patrick
*sigh* Okay, I’m gonna just say this. Jack Rinella needs an editor. Like, badly. He has a lot of wisdom to share, and is one of the rare masters who writes in a way that’s also fully and openly informed by the time he’s spent as a slave. This book, like others he’s written, has many excellent insights. He’s been at this forever and he’s a tireless seeker of slaves so he has a ton of highly varied experience to draw on. But the man repeats himself and goes in circles enough to make you dizzy, and he burdens even the simplest of topics with verbal padding so thick it obscures the shape of the message within. I had to relegate this book to the bathroom, because it was such a slog that I couldn’t manage read more than two pages at a sitting – perfect for a long piss. When I finish it – should take another four or five months – I’ll amend this review, but I’m halfway through and it’s not improving. I’d give up entirely if it weren’t for the maddening fact that he’s really got intriguing, sensible stuff to say! Highlights include some great deflating of common porno-fantasy ideas, and helpful journaling and other exercises for slave wannabes. Anyway. Enter at your own risk.
- How to Capture a Mistress
by Karen Martin
Sage (and sorely needed) advice for gentlemen who are looking for a mistress, and while it’s fairly gender-specific in its target audience, it could be quite useful for any gender combination. A very enjoyable glimpse into the mind of a mistress, minus all the posing and preening one sometimes finds in such manuals. Practical, down-to-earth, and funny, if not hugely groundbreaking – definitely worth a read.
- Art of Slavery: A Power Exchange Resource Book
ed. slave lara
This is one of the slim volumes that comprises the Power Exchange Book Series, created by Robert Rubel. It’s… odd. I’m tempted to dismiss it entirely based on the poor quality of writing, super-short essays that mostly don’t go anywhere of great depth, and extremely narrow selection of viewpoints: all the slaves are women, all the masters they refer to are men, mostly if not all of them are married, and they all seem to know each other from the same local group somewhere in the Midwestern US. It reads like something that should have been a chapbook shared within that group and no more. At the same time, a couple of the pieces have some useful ideas. So, uh, I dunno? Go in expecting little and you might get something out of it?
- Real Service
by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny
Tightly focused on service and the mindsets and concepts that underpin service-based relationships, this book skips over fantasy-style rhapsodizing about “fetishy” service and goes straight to a pragmatic discussion of the everyday, all-the-time kind. So useful! I personally find the sections on the qualities of a good master and a good servant to be absolute gems, and I think they should have been placed at the very top of the book to set the tone for the rest. The authors’ concepts of styles of dominance and submission are also classics, and I love the detailed lists of types of service that can be offered, neatly divided by category and then by skill level. You may or may not want to use them directly, but the structure lends itself well to adaptation, so take them as a starting point for writing up your own.
- Butlers & Household Managers: 21st Century Professionals
by Steven Ferry
This book is intended for professional butlers, but is very useful in establishing the “butler mindset” in an everyday way for people who wish to serve as part of a D/s relationship.
- Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter and Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter
by Edmund Lawler
Two great books on the art of service based on the renowned service of restaurateur Charlie Trotter. They take a business-oriented tack on things but the lessons are valuable for personal relationships too.
- This awesome article about service on kinki_wiki, complete with embedded video clips from various TV shows featuring service dynamics – really fun.
- Two of my own posts about service: Service Beneath the Surface, which explores a range of ideas about service, and The Many Facets of Thanks, about how to acknowledge and receive service.
- Protocol Handbook for the Leather Slave: Theory and Practice
by Robert J. Rubel
An excellent practical follow-up to the Relations handbook. It was originally written with female submissives in mind, and even though he has taken pains to alter it to suit any gender combination, the female-sub focus still shows. Still, well worth a read.
- The essay “Ritual, Ceremony and Protocol in SM” in Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink
It provides some helpful concepts to frame your approach to protocol. Also, the rest of the book has gobs of intelligent stuff about kink in general, some with a focus on power exchange, so it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Ignore the bad copy editing and read it anyway.
- Creating a Personal Protocol: A Workbook of Exercises to Help You Create Your Personal Protocol
by Shannon Reilly
A slim volume that’s mostly blank pages for you to fill out. Pretty basic, but if you’re looking for a place to start in terms of setting up protocols and behaviours within a D/s or M/s dynamic, you might find the structure useful.
- Protocols: A Variety of Views: A Power Exchange Resource Book
by L.C. Morgynn
This one is another addition to the Power Exchange Book Series. It’s a mixed bag and needs a copy edit, but it’s more hit than miss. Most of the essays cover the authors’ personal take on protocols. They don’t go into a ton of depth, but they each contain material worth chewing on, and they come from a fairly wide range of perspectives which lends the book a nicely faceted quality. The final two essays are valuable, but they belong in a different book; they discuss basic BDSM community etiquette, rather than being about protocols within M/s or D/s dynamics. Still, Graydancer’s “10 Commandments of Kink” essay in particular is hilarious enough to make up for the odd placement. Also, while it’s awfully meta to note here, I appreciate TammyJo Eckhart’s thoughtful, critical book reviews of other M/s-related books at the conclusion.
- Etiquette:17th Edition – The Definitive Guide to Manners, Completely Revised and Updated
by Emily Post/Peggy Post
This is a huge tome, and its approach to etiquette is both open-minded and highly conservative. It presumes a class situation that may or may not be true for you. Nonetheless, some elements of it are extremely useful, if only for getting into a somewhat formal mindset.
- The Bride Wore Black Leather… And He Looked Fabulous! An Etiquette Guide for the Rest of Us
by Drew Campbell
This fills in all the bits that are missing from your standard etiquette guide when it comes to dealing respectfully with people who live in unusual relationships, including non-monogamous and D/s ones.
D/s and non-monogamy
- Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic
edited by Raven Kaldera
I’m biased here too because I have an essay in here, but even if I didn’t, I’d recommend checking it out. The book is the only one out there to address this topic in any depth, even though it is hugely relevant to a very large percentage of the people who do D/s and M/s relationships.
It’s unfortunate that two of the three books I’ve read that provide personal accounts of slavery/full-time submission are both highly problematic. The following two are valuable reads if you’re looking for what NOT to do (and also for a sense of history):
- Endless Knot: A Spiritual Odyssey through Sadomasochism
by Mathew Styranka
This guy stayed in an abusive relationship for years because he was convinced it was slavery and that’s what he wanted. Worse yet, he still doesn’t seem to see it as abusive, and seems to think he’s now “cured” of his SM desires. Oy. Read my review here.
- To Love, to Obey, to Serve: Diary of an Old Guard Slave
by V.L. Johnson
Vi Johnson is still an active and vocal member of the American leather community and from what I understand she’s pretty cool. Her diary comes to a positive conclusion, but you’ll cringe at some of what she went through in her early days as a self-identified slave. Still, very thought-provoking and a great discussion starter.
… But this one is great!
- Ask the Man Who Owns Him: the real lives of gay Masters and slaves
by david stein with David Schachter
This book features interview-based profiles of over a dozen long-term M/s couples and triads, providing by far the highest number of experiences and opinions on M/s I’ve ever seen gathered in one place. It’s exclusively focused on men, but it’s not hard to extrapolate from there when considering the principles each interviewee discusses. Despite the narrow demographic, there’s quite a diversity of approaches outlined here. The format can get a bit repetitive, but if you’re looking for vocabulary, ideas, and a sense of what’s out there, this is definitely worth a solid read.
Fantasy- or fetish-oriented power dynamics
- Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual and Training with Miss Abernathy: a Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners
by Christina Abernathy
These two books are now available condensed into a single volume, as well. Abernathy’s flavour is very Victorian and proper. She writes very clearly and presents many intriguing ideas and tons of practical suggestions. Her breakdown of “types” may or may not suit you; I would suggest taking the parts you like of her instructions rather than trying to follow them like a rigid program.
- The Mistress Manual: The Good Girl’s Guide to Female Dominance
by Mistress Lorelei
I disagree with the book’s idea that female dominance is something essentially and classically feminine, and I dislike the archetypes she creates as they seem constructed with men’s pleasure in mind rather than aiming to help women find their own inner sense of self within dominance. Still, Lorelei writes well and some of her points are very insightful. The book might give you some interesting ideas, just take it with a grain of salt!
PART 3: Also Not My Thoughts:
BDSM Book List
– reposted with permission from ResidentSadist (note that he comes from a male dominant perspective)
Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns : The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism
by Philip Miller, Molly Devon, William A. Granzig
Screw the Roses enthusiastically covers all the basics and even some of the not-so-basics–bondage, negotiation, sex, endorphins, dominance and submission, toys, safety, S/M community, and beyond. It’s written primarily from the point of view of male dominant/female submissive interactions, but it’s easily translatable into valuable advice for any relationship configuration.
SM 101 : A Realistic Introduction
by Jay Wiseman
SM 101 surveys the entire spectrum of consensual sadomasochistic practices from from bondage, to spanking, to erotic role-playing, and more. Now in an expanded second edition, SM 101 includes a new chapter on starting and running sadomasochistic organizations and events for consenting adults.
The Loving Dominant
by John Warren
The Loving Dominant is one of the basics. It should be–and often is–required reading before a new partner is willing to consider playing. It covers not only the how-to’s, the who’s, the what’s and the when’s, but the why’s, as well as providing some great inspirational examples of scenes.
The Ethical Slut : A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities
by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt
Warm, informative details about how to get your needs met, manage your jealousy, make agreements that work for all concerned, talk to your friends and relatives, and build a life full of all the sex and love you want. This book is a great guide for all who are considering changing their twosome to a threesome or other add-on to their primary sex relationship.
The Topping Book : Or, Getting Good at Being Bad (Ferns note: There is a revised version: The New Topping Book)
by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt
This is book was a very fun and informative read. It talks about the rights and responsibilities of the Top and what it is like to be a top. It tells you that Tops and bottoms are equals. Dossie and Catherine are always very good about including all genders, preferences, and relationships.
The Bottoming Book: How to Get Terrible Things Done to You by Wonderful People (Ferns note: There is a revised version: The New Bottoming Book)
by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt
Catherine & Dossie give us another great book. It is short and concise and very helpful. The sections on the psychological effects are particularly well explained. The authors repeatedly validate the experience of the person-as-bottom, whether that person identifies solely as a bottom or as a top who desires to experience bottoming, or as the in-betweener who likes it all.
Different Loving : The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission
by Gloria G. Brame, Jon Jacobs, Will Brame
They begin by asking “What is normal ?” and note that if “normal” means reproductive relevance as in the Victorian standard, then few are normal. What is clear is that what is painful for some is pleasurable for others, what is unacceptable for some is delightful for others, what is frightening for some is a natural high for others.
Bound to Be Free : The SM Experience
by Charles Moser, J. J. Madeson
Of the vast array of human sexual behaviors and practices, sadomasochism (SM) is probably the least understood and, thus, the most feared among the general public. Moser and Madeson here provide perhaps the first intelligent, fully informed, fact-based discussion of what SM is, what it means to its practitioners, how it is practiced, and the structure of its subculture in contemporary American society.
The Leatherman’s Handbook: Silver Jubilee Edition
by Larry Townsend, Jack Fritscher
A good introduction to the gay male SM world of the early 1970s revised briefly for the 2000 edition. It gives a good basic overview of the history of “Old Guard” as well as insights into how different from and similar to gay SM s from het SM.
Exhibitionism for the Shy: Show Off, Dress Up and Talk Hot
by Carol Queen
Carol Queen is absolutely the best. She makes sense out of feelings most people share but are afraid to admit. You should read this little book, especially if you have any shy tendencies. We would all live fuller lives if we could follow half of her truths.
Learning the Ropes: A Basic Guide to Safe and Fun S/m Lovemaking
by Race Bannon
Race Bannon provides some much-appreciated accurate information in this honest and straightforward basic guide to S/M. He explodes prevalent myths about S/M and replaces them with a playground of erotic fantasy and an emphasis on consensuality. Possibly the most important trait of this book, though, is that it’s delightfully devoid of the “This is the One True Way” trap evident in too many sexuality manuals. Delightful examples of questions and issues that commonly come up during negotiation, useful for both the novice just learning to say yes, and the more experienced hand who has met a new partner. The chapter on “S/M Technique” includes good basic safety and sensation information. A recommended reading list, and a glossary. –Cheryl Trooskin
Sensuous Magic 2 Ed: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples
by Patrick Califia-Rice
Need help with your riding-crop technique? Wonder how to wrap your husband like a mummy? Sensuous Magic has the answers. Writer, therapist, and sex radical Patrick Califia-Rice has updated his classic introduction to S/M and power play to embrace couples of all persuasions and at every stage of experience. Although not a comprehensive technical guide (you will need a book on rope bondage, for instance, if you want to learn appropriate knots and techniques), Califia-Rice’s text offers insightful warnings, advice, and commentary, the kind of guidance you might expect from a seasoned mentor. It is especially well-suited to daring beginners, who can learn the basics on safety and communication, while being titillated by more advanced topics like whip selection and master/slave contracts. –Regina Marler
The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage
by Midori, Craig Morey
Midori shows step by step how to achieve beautiful and exciting Japanese bondage on a variety of genders and body types. Each chapter starts with a spectacular, tasteful full-color photo of the finished bondage pose – then goes back and explains with text and line art how each rope and knot is placed to achieve the final result.
I just found your site and love it.
May I add one book ?
Concertina:The Life and Loves of a Dominatrix by Susan Winemaker.
A lovely book.
Yes, I’m glad you added, thank you for it.
Do you mind giving a brief synopsis of it so readers can decide if they might be interested in it or not?
Not at all. My apologies for not doing so.
If I may steal a review from Amazon I woud like to add this one.
“What happens when a professional chef becomes a dominatrix, swapping the heat of the kitchen for the intensity of a dungeon? A memoir in three parts, Concertina spans five years of the author’s life as she makes the extraordinary transition from culinary expert to professional dominatrix. Taking the reader into the secret, hidden world of suburban sado–masochism, Winemaker introduces us to a fascinating array of colourful characters, before she breaks the code of domination: falling in love with a client.
Honest, brave and beautifully written, Concertina is a memoir that finds passion and tenderness in the most unlikely places. ”
I truly enjoyed the book myself and would encourage others to read it too.
How about my new, “How to be a Roman Dominatrix” now on Kindle? Inspired by Roman ladies who routinely had male slaves for pleasure, it’s about how to have fun dominating your man even if you aren’t kinky. Like the “Mistress Manual” it assumes a monogamous relationship with part-time femdom. However, unlike it, it’s all about the lady’s largely vanilla pleasure: the male sub gets his kicks as a by product – if you can’t have kinky, callous will do very nicely…
Quick comment about your dislikes of Uniquely Rika:
I have read the book several times…and love it. I don’t think Rika is saying that subs wants play or that play is only a gift…she says that things the sub wants that are not service to the dominant are not considered part of their D/s dynamic, but she can still feel free to give them to him as gifts outside of the dynamic.
I think she uses kink play as a potential example of this because many men (myself included) try to ‘force’ kinky play into the definition of D/s – even if their partner doesn’t consider that to be service to her. In this way, they try to get their fantasy fulfilled (for him) under the guise of service to her..trying to pressure her into serving his needs.
But Rika is pretty clear that if the woman likes kink, engaging in it would be very much part of his service to her…and would not be given as a gift because in focusing on her needs, he would engage in the kink she enjoys.
Does that make the concept more palatable?
*smile* It doesn’t, though it does broaden it (and for the record, I don’t dislike the book at all). I’ve not read the book for a long time, so this is about your comment more than what is in the book because I can’t recall the details.
“if the woman likes kink, engaging in it would be very much part of his service to her”
Perhaps I just have an issue with the language, in which she has redefined terms for her own reasons. Play is not ‘service’ in any way shape or form. It is mutual pleasure, which is what my D/s and my play is about. Calling it a ‘service to her’ *still* makes it sound like she gets no more pleasure from it than him washing the car.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the book and recommend it to newbies a lot. My gripe about it is that I don’t see any acknowledgement in it that we Dommes have mad kinky animal passion that our submissives share and revel in… she just has, well, ‘service’.
I agree with your view on this. The way Ms Rika characterizes it is the same view that “dominance is something that is done to the sub” but in reverse. Either of those views are wrong-headed for the same reasons. It makes obscure where the intimacy is found in a D/s relationship, which is wanting to have experiences and explore desires that are shared mutually by both partners. That could be as simple as experiencing your partner having an orgasm. The idea that receiving an orgasm is service for one partner but a gift for the other is ridiculous and makes it seem rather impersonal. I guess this is a long-winded way of saying it’s both a service and a gift for both partners at once because if it’s not then why would anyone want to do that together?
Agreed: The ‘service’ and ‘gift’ language sounds transactional and cold.
I’ve seen enough of her writings and comments in discussions to believe that if she revised the book now, she would rethink her choice of words because it’s a distraction from the crux, and I know she’s had quite a bit of pushback on it.
It’s still one of the few books that is genuinely from a dominant woman’s perspective though (even after all these years!), and for that, it’s a very valuable antithesis to all the ‘how to do F/m’ books out there that focus on pandering to the submissive’s kinks while gaslighting readers into believing that doing that is about power and authority.
I really need to write my own higher level ‘how to’ book :).
Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities – by David Ortmann and Sprott Richard
This book was a great help to my wife and I, both newbies. It covers a variety of topics from a kink-knowledgeable mental health professional standpoint. Lot’s of wit and real life case studies, combined with some great analysis. This really brought us in from the cold in terms of self acceptance.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’ve not heard of that one.
Great Information ….
Thanks, glad you found it useful :).
This is fantastic. This is exactly the type of recommendations I’ve been searching for. I need research to feel comfortable and confident and so much of what I was finding was not what I was looking for!
I’ve already purchased several books from the list.
I’m exactly the same: I want to Know Things. I’m glad you found some useful books here :).
Thanks so much for bro this useful information and thanks again for this list