The Science of Sex

Since the waning of the Victorian Era, researchers have been busy looking into exactly what human sexuality is, and why we do what we do. Over a hundred years later, they have not reached consensus!

This is a bonanza for the curious reader, for there is much to explore. The books listed below offer a wide-angle look at sex research: Kinsey's interview data on the sexual behavior of tens of thousands of Americans; Masters and Johnson's live action filming of vaginas experiencing orgasm; neurochemical and endocrinological research; anthropological surveys of sexual behavior around the world; comparative zoological analyses of mating behavior; and much more.

Recommended Books on the Science of Sex

Alfred C. Kinsey: A Life by James H. JonesAlfred C. Kinsey: A Life

This groundbreaking biography caused great controversy when it was first published. Drawing on tens of thousands of letters and scores of personal interviews, James H. Jones shows that the image of disinterested biologist cultivated by Kinsey was in fact a carefully crafted public persona. The Alfred C. Kinsey who emerges in these pages was a social reformer and a zealot, who devoted his every waking hour to the destruction of sexual repression. 2004, W. W. Norton & Company

Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen FisherAnatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray

Love at first sight...the copulatory gaze...dinner dates...jealousy... intimacy... homesexuality...infidelity...Dr.Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, explains it all in this four-million-year history of the human species. She demystifies much about romance and pairing that we tend to believe is willfull or just plain careless. She offers new explanations for why men and women fall in love, marry, and divorce, and discusses the future of sex in a way that will surprise you. 1994, Ballantine Books

The Anthropology of SexThe Anthropology of Sex

Donnan and Magowan draw on the comparative field research of anthropologists to examine the relationship between sex as identity, practice and experience. Sexual cultures vary enormously and, while often the topic of tabloid titillation, they are more rarely subjected to strict cultural analysis. The Anthropology of Sex is the first work to critically synthesize over a century of comparative expertise, knowledge and understanding of diverse sexual forms. It explores sexuality from diversity to perversity and asks how diverse sexual practices are linked; probes the cultural and comparative context of contemporary sexual practice and belief; and examines the shaping of sex by global and globalizing forces. 2010, Berg Publishers

Archaeologies of SexualityArchaeologies of Sexuality

Archaeologies of Sexuality presents a strong, diverse body of scholarship which draws on locations as varied as medieval England, the ancient Maya kingdoms, New Kingdom Egypt, prehistoric Europe, and convict-era Australia, demonstrating the challenges and rewards of integrating the study of sex and sexuality within archaeology. This volume, with contributions by many leading archaeologists, will serve both as an essential introduction and a valuable reference tool for students and academics. 2000, Routledge

Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior, The Penguin by Judith MackayAtlas of Human Sexual Behavior

Drawing on the most recent findings in biology, psychology, and social anthropology, The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior shows in easily assimilated visual form how sexual practices and social attitudes are determined as much by nationality, ethnicity, and religion as by age and gender. The innovative maps and graphics in this atlas give new insights into many of today's most controversial subjects, such as: human genetics, the implications of cloning, why we choose the partners we do, what the real purpose of our relationships is, and infertility. This remarkable survey of human sexual behavior around the world reveals intriguing differences--as well as some surprising similarities--from country to country and between different cultures. 2000, Penguin

The Bald-Headed Hermit & The Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus by A. D. PeterkinThe Bald-Headed Hermit & The Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus

The Bald-Headed Hermit is a unique guide to the lingo of sex. Exotic words and phrases in the English language number in the thousands and this collection includes terms that vary from the poetic and the medical to the macho, derogatory, and obscene. 2002, Arsenal Pulp Press

The Big Bang: A Guide to the New Sexual Universe by The writers at nerve.comThe Big Bang: A Guide to the New Sexual Universe's popular sex columnists Taylor and Sharkey ("Em & Lo") offer here a hip, frank, contemporary, and clever guide to the bedroom. Just about every topic that a nervous beginner or an intermediate practitioner might wonder about is covered: there are chapters on masturbation, foreplay, anal sex, oral sex, female ejaculation and even fisting and BDSM. There's also a very thorough chapter on sexually transmitted diseases, as well as ones on safer sex and sexual fitness.  2003, Plume

A Billion Wicked ThoughtsA Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire

In this startling book, Ogas and Gaddam analyze a billion web searches in order to understand the true differences between male and female desires. Their findings include: men and women are wired with different sets of sexual cues (no surprise there); the male sexual brain resembles a reckless hunter, while the female sexual brain resembles a cautious detective agency; men form their sexual interests during adolescence and rarely change, while women's sexual interests are plastic and change frequently; a single stimulus can arouse the male sexual brain, while the female sexual brain requires many simultaneous stimuli to arouse it. Fascinating research. 2011, Dutton Adult

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach]Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Mary Roach, "the funniest science writer in the country," tackles the study of sexual physiology in Bonk. She shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm, two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth, can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place. 2008, Norton 

The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by Elisabeth A. LloydThe Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution

Biologists agree that the male orgasm has a straightforward evolutionary function: it makes males want to have sex more often, which in turn makes them more likely to have offspring. But how to account for female orgasm, when nearly three-quarters of women don't always reach orgasm during sexual intercourse? Were they driven by the same evolutionary pressures, females would have adapted to be as consistently orgasmic as males. Through the vast majority of this book, Lloyd, an Indiana University biologist and philosopher of science, trashes evolutionary arguments, which range from pair-bonding (orgasms make females more likely to form stable partnerships) to sperm competition (orgasms expel previously deposited sperm from other sexual partners). Lloyd draws on the earlier work of Donald Symons to account for female orgasm as "a byproduct of embryological development," like male nipples. Lloyd argues that "the history of evolutionary explanations for female orgasm is a history of missteps, misuse of evidence, and missed references." 2006, Harvard University Press

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

Emily Nagoski has written a fascinating book drawing together the strands of current research on Female Sexuality. She highlights the challenges of "being sex-positive in a sex-negative culture," and emphasizes the importance of context in understanding sexual interactions. Female sexuality is different from male sexuality and she helps the reader understand this in terms of physiology and brain science. Nagoski stresses that variability in sexual responsivity is normal and urges her readers to celebrate their uniqueness. She cites cutting-edge research to emphasize that the most important factor in sexual satisfaction is not technique or number of orgasms, but how you feel about it. This absorbing book is filled with down to earth wisdom and guidance based on the latest research. 2015, Simon & Schuster

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex by Olivia JudsonDr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex

In this entertaining and informative book, evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson presents "letters" from sexually frustrated animals, birds, and insects who ask "Dr. Tatiana" to explain some sexual oddity. For example, "Don't Wanna Be Butch in Botswana" writes, "I'm a spotted hyena, a girl. The only trouble is, I've got a large phallus. I can't help feeling that this is unladylike. What's wrong with me?" Each question leads Dr. T. into a fascinating explanation about the sex life of this species, sprinkled with sprightly stories about other species with similar attributes or behavior. 2003, Holt Paperbacks

Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to the Extremes of Human Sexuality (and everything in between) by Russ KickEverything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to the Extremes of Human Sexuality (and everything in between)

Master anthologizer Russ Kick has immersed himself in the many and varied worlds of sex writing, producing a definitive collection exposing reality that's way, way stranger than XXX fiction. Profiled in The New York Times as an "information archaeologist," Russ digs where others would not think to look for delicious details on the present, past, and future of sex. This massive, oversized anthology features a panoply of sexperts, everyone from prostitutes to professors, legends to newcomers, sexual revolutionaries to sexologists and beyond, providing a varied and unexpected look at sex. 2005, The Disinformation Company

The Evolution Of Desire - Revised Edition 4 by David M. BussThe Evolution Of Desire - Revised Edition 4

Evolutionary psychology--or, in the vernacular, "instinct"--rules the dating and mating game, and this scientist's discoveries are bound to clash with theories of patriarchy that purport to account for male dominance of wealth. Buss' synthesis of many studies conforms with popular wisdom: Women want an older man with actual or potential means; men want an attractive, younger woman; and men have a much greater proclivity for promiscuity than do women. Why? The reasons reside in vestigial "cues" that favored reproduction in the pre-agricultural epoch of human development. Then, when a poor decision in mate selection imposed devastating material costs on the female, a dialectic of attraction strategies developed so that a desirable mate could be gained, held, and defended against interlopers. The ancestral origin, Buss explains, is apparent in courting techniques (such as his researchers recorded in singles bars) or in the emotion of jealousy, the actuator in alerting and defeating rivals. 2003, Basic Books

The G Spot: And Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality by alice Khan Ladas, Beverly Whipple, John D. PerryThe G Spot: And Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality

When it was originally published in 1982, The G Spot was the first book to prove the existence and define the location of the Gräfenberg spot, a patch of erectile tissue that can be felt through the front wall of the vagina, directly behind the pubic bone. In print continuously for twenty-two years, it has sold more than 1,000,000 copies to date internationally. This edition includes a new introduction which brings the research in the book up-to-date and explains its continued relevance. Now a new generation of men and women can take advantage of the insights and practical suggestions of this classic work. 2004, Holt

A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard LannonA General Theory of Love

New research in brain function has proven that love is a human necessity; its absence damages not only individuals, but our whole society. In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible. 2001, Vintage

The Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection by Gina OgdenThe Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection

Based on a landmark sex survey, researcher and sex therapist Ogden found "the language of spiritual experience comes closest to expressing the fullness of our sexual response, for it is the language of connection and ecstasy." The book guides the reader on a path to her sexual "center" where healing, ecstasy and transformation occur. 2006, Trumpeter
Read an extensive review of The Heart and Soul of Sex »

How Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do by Sharon MoalemHow Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

Birds do it, bees do it, but why do humans do it? In this wide-ranging look at the evolutionary reasons for sex, physiologist and evolutionary biologist Moalem says that it's all about shuffling the gene pool and getting rid of any unwelcome guests, such as viruses, that may have latched onto human DNA. But why is one particular person attracted to another? Moalem relays the latest research showing that smell plays a very important role in attraction, and that even our genes may influence one's smell, and thus a person's desirability, to others. Scientists have found that women tend to be attracted to different types of men at different points in their ovulation cycles (dark and handsome hunks at their height; sensitive, care-giving types at other times). A fascinating survey. 2010, Harper

Human Sexual Response by William H. Masters, Virginia E. JohnsonHuman Sexual Response

This is the Bible of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, to such an extent that one cannot say whether this book caused the Sexual Revolution or the Sexual Revolution led to the creation of this book. This book asked and answered questions that had rarely been addressed and had never been answered before. What happens to the woman during the sexual process? Prior to this book, nobody knew the answer. It can be observed that when a woman becomes sexually aroused, her vagina becomes lubricated through vaginal fluids. Where does this arousal take place? Does it happen just in the clitoris or does it also take place deep within the walls of the vagina? Masters and Johnson were the groundbreaking pioneers in the study of human sexual behavior. 2010, Ishi Press

The Inner Circle by T. C. BoyleThe Inner Circle

In this fascinating novel T.C. Boyle presents an intrepid and astute interpretation of the revolutionary work and fanatic personality of sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey. A zoologist at Indiana University called Prok by his intimates, he is seen through the worshipful eyes of John Milk, a handsome, obedient, and clueless English major who becomes Prok's first disciple. Milk joins Prok in his prodigious effort to interview thousands of men and women about their sexual experiences as World War II rages, and Milk is both dedicated to the project and conflicted over Prok's attempt to control every aspect of his life. 2005, Penguin

An Interpretation of Desire: Essays in the Study of Sexuality (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series of Sexuality, Gender, and Culture) by John GagnonAn Interpretation of Desire: Essays in the Study of Sexuality (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture)

An Interpretation of Desire offers a bracing collection of major essays by John Gagnon, one of the leading and most inspiring figures in sexual research. Spanning his work from the 1970s, when he explored the idea that sexuality is mediated through social processes and categories -- thus paving the way for Foucault -- and then extending through his turn to issues of desire during the 1990s, these essays constitute an essential entrée to the study of sexuality in the twentieth century. 2004, University of Chicago Press

Kinsey (DVD - Two-Disc Special Edition), Bill Condon, directorKinsey (DVD - Two-Disc Special Edition)

One of the best films of 2004, Kinsey pays tribute to the flawed but honorable man who revolutionized our understanding of human sexuality. In presenting Kinsey as a driven social misfit the film reveals the depth of his own humanity, and the incalculable benefit his research had on our collective sexual enlightenment. DVD Release Date: May 17, 2005. Studio: 20th Century Fox

The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex by June M. Reinisch, Ruth BeasleyThe Kinsey Institute New Report On Sex

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is recognized as one of the world's most authoritative and trusted sources of information concerning sexuality, sexual health and practices, and related issues. Now the Kinsey Institute has compiled a thorough, easy-to-read volume containing hundreds of answers to actual questions they're asked most often. Coverage ranges from the ABCs of making love to discussions of emotional commitment, sexual dysfunction, contraception, homosexuality and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. There is a section on puberty written for young adults, as well as material of special interest to parents, couples with problems conceiving, people over 50 and the disabled. 1991, St. Martin's Griffin

Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving by Robert Kolodnx, Virginia El Johnson, William H. MastersMasters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving

This comprehensive book by pioneer sex therapists Masters and Johnson makes accessible to lay readers scientific data and humane perspectives on topics ranging from anatomy and physiology to homosexuality, sex therapy, love, birth control, and gender roles. Outstanding are chapters on fantasy, communication, coercive sex, and sexual satisfaction. Also included is up-to-date material on AIDS. Good science, psychological sensitivity, common sense, and fine writing make this an essential source. 1988, Little, Brown and Company

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas MaierMasters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love

Masters and Johnson began their secret studies of human sexuality in a small Midwest laboratory, and soon became the nation's top experts on sex. Over the course of more than forty years, they analyzed and explained the secrets of orgasm, emotional fulfillment, and sexual dysfunction. But they divorced after twenty years amid a clash of success, betrayal, and jealousies. Weaving interviews with the notoriously private William Masters and the ambitious Virginia Johnson, Maier offers a compelling portrait of the legendary couple. 2009, Basic Books

A Natural History of Love by Diane AckermanA Natural History Of Love

In A Natural History of Love Ackerman mines deep within the caves of human emotion for artifacts of "the great intangible": love. Proceeding with the disdainful understanding that sociologists prefer to study negative behaviors and emotions, Ackerman sets out on her exploration by reviewing the lessons provided across time by such lovers as Antony and Cleopatra, Orpheus and Eurydice, Dido and Aeneas, Abelard and Eloise, and Romeo and Juliet. During this journey, she explores the neurophysiology of love and exposes the components of modern-day relationships, from the "New Age Sensitive Guy" to sexual chic. With dazzling poetic charm and insight, she uses history, literature, science, psychology, and personal experience as tools to illuminate the vigor and vehemence of the thrilling, devastating, and comforting phenomenon of love.1995, Vintage

A Natural History of the Senses by Diane AckermanA Natural History of the Senses

"One of the real tests of writers," notes Ackerman in Senses, "is how well they write about smells. If they can't describe the scent of sanctity in a church, can you trust them to describe the suburbs of the heart?" Ackerman passes the test, writing with ease and fluency about the five senses. Did you know that bat guano smells like stale Wheat Thins? That Bach's music can quell anger around the world? That the leaves that shimmer so beautifully in fall have "no adaptive purpose"? Ackerman does, and she guides us through questions of sensation with an eye for the amusingly arcane reference and just the right phrase. 1991, Vintage

A Natural History of Sex: The Ecology and Evolution of Mating Behavior by Adrian ForsythA Natural History of Sex: The Ecology and Evolution of Mating Behavior

In a series of engaging essays, Forsyth considers a host of natural history questions, which run the gamut from the obscure and the bizarre to the familiar. Why do roosters crow and waggle their wattles? Why does it benefit the female human to remain inscrutable about her sexual cycle? Who instituted monogamy? Why would a male mite copulate with its mother? Why does the male bedbug drive its "outlandish, formidable penis" into the female's abdomen? Forsyth's highly observational mind ranges over the natural world, revealing the seemingly random patterns and consequences of animal sexual behavior. 2001, Firefly Books

Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures by Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Charles MoserSadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures

This book addresses a wide range of issues that confront those who practice S/M as part of their overall sexuality. It debunks many widely believed myths regarding S/M utilizing empirical research. Kleinplatz and Moser contribute to a view of S/M that moves away from pathology, toward a pro-active and responsive view of sexuality. 2006, Routledge

Science in the Bedroom by Vern BulloughScience In The Bedroom

Science in the Bedroom profiles the pioneer sexologists, including Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, Alfred Kinsey and William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Important but neglected female researchers Katharine Davis (1860-1935) and Clelia Mosher (1863-1940) and anti-homophobia crusader Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) are also included. Bullough recognizes all varieties of individual sexual experience and attitude and includes a wealth of information on marriage manuals, the impact of contraceptives on sexual mores, lesbianism, child sexuality, prostitution, pornography, transsexualism, cross-dressing, free-love advocates and much else. 1995, Basic Books

The Science of Orgasm by Barry R. Komisaruk, Carlos Bever-Flores, Beverly WhippleThe Science of Orgasm

This unique book offers a thorough compilation of what modern science, from biomechanics to neurochemistry, knows about the secrets of orgasm. The three coauthors -- neuroscientist Komisaruk, endocrinologist Beyers-Flores and sexuality researcher Whipple (coauthor of The G-Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality) -- begin with a short overview of the role of hormones and the nervous system, as well as how the body changes during orgasm. Later chapters go into greater detail, describing the connection between the brain and genitals, and how various factors, from aging and physical condition to drugs, disorders and diseases, affect sexual response and orgasm. 2006, The Johns Hopkins University Press

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cadilda JethaSex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Ryan and Jethá's central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature monogamy really is. The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future. With intelligence and humor, Ryan and Jethá show how our promiscuous past haunts our struggles over monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics. They explore why long-term fidelity can be so difficult for so many; why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens; why many middle-aged men risk everything for transient affairs with younger women; why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality. 2010, Harper

Sex in America by Gina Kolata, et. al.Sex in America

This is the popular report of the most authoritative study ever of sexual behavior in the United States. Its most startling conclusion is that most Americans don’t “do it” as much as the media and previous surveys such as Kinsey’s have made us think. The book provides in-depth information on the wide range of sexual practices in this country. 1995, Warner Books

Sex the Measure of All Things: A Life of Alfred C. Kinsey by Jonathan Gathorne-HardySex the Measure of All Things: A Life of Alfred C. Kinsey

Alfred C. Kinsey was surely the single most important and influential researcher of human sexual behavior in the 20th century. Sex the Measure of All Things explores his life in a balanced way, revealing Kinsey to be an exceptionally complex and interesting person. It also makes a substantial contribution to understanding the prevailing orientation in the US toward sexuality in the first half of the 20th century. Finally, it provides an account and an assessment of Kinsey's landmark research on male and female human sexual behavior. Kinsey was a controversial figure in his own time, and remains so today. This book brings out some contradictory aspects of his character but ultimately adopts an appreciative stance toward an indisputably fascinating individual who almost single-handedly initiated the scientific study of human sexuality. 2000, Indiana University Press

Sex is Not a Natural Act and Other Essays by leonore TieferSex Is Not a Natural Act and Other Essays

A newly revised collection of provocative essays on sex and its many meanings in our culture by one of the most prolific, original, and highly regarded sexologists in the field today. Tiefer focuses on the social construction of sexuality: “a kiss is not a kiss; your orgasm is not the same as George Washington’s, premarital sex in Peru is not premarital sex in Peoria, abortion in Rome at the time of Caesar is not abortion at the time of John Paul II, and rape is neither an act of sex nor an act of violence – all of these actions remain to be defined by individual experience within one’s period and culture.” A fascinating and thought-provoking book. 2004, Westview Press

Sexualities in anthropologySexualities in Anthropology: A Reader

The Professors Lyons present a comprehensive collection of historical and current readings in the social anthropology of sexuality. Succinct and revealing excerpts from key figures in the history of anthropology about sexualities, morality, and the family are featured. The most recent literature on both heterosexualities and same-sex sexualities is also included. Thought-provoking and always fascinating, Sexualities in Anthropology: A Reader offers keen insights into the diversity of human social beliefs, practices, and interactions relating to human sexual behavior around the world. 2011, Wiley-Blackwell

The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States by leaumann, Gagnon, Michael, MichaelsThe Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States

The Social Organization of Sexuality reports the complete results of the nation's most comprehensive representative survey of sexual practices in the general adult population of the United States. This highly detailed portrait of sex in America and its social context and implications has established a new and original scientific orientation to the study of sexual behavior. The book achieves a refreshingly readable examination of sexual behavior associated with the acquisition of the AIDS virus, masturbation, sexually transmitted infections, cohabitation and marriage, fertility, and homosexuality. 2000, University of Chicago Press

Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation by Thomas W. LaqueurSolitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation

Historian Laqueur maps out the changing nature of Western culture's ongoing obsession with manual self-pleasuring and its effects. Not surprisingly, masturbation's history is fraught with anxiety, particularly since it was often thought to irrevocably damage its practitioners, both morally and physically. In the 18th century, when expressions of "imagination, solitude, and excess became newly important and newly worrisome," masturbation was seen as representing a lack of self-discipline, "emblematic of all that was beyond social surveillance." Beginning in the politicized, post-free love 1970s, it became "a way of reclaiming the self from the regulatory mechanisms of civil society and of the patriarchal social order into which the Enlightenment and its successors had put it." 2003, Zone Books

Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles by Robin BakerSperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles

Sperm Wars is a revolutionary thesis about sex that turned centuries-old biological assumptions on their head. Evolution has programmed men to conquer and monopolize women while women, without ever knowing they are doing it, seek the best genetic input on offer from potential sexual partners. In this book, best-selling author Robin Baker reveals these new facts of life: ten percent of children are not fathered by their "fathers;" less than one percent of a man's sperm is capable of fertilizing anything (the rest is there to fight off all other men's sperm); "smart" vaginal mucus encourages some sperm but blocks others; and a woman is far more likely to conceive through a casual fling than through sex with her regular partner. 2006, Basic Books

Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne BlankVirgin: The Untouched History

"By any material reckoning, virginity does not exist," writes Blank in this informative, funny and provocative analysis of one of the most elusive—and prized—qualities of human sexuality. Blank, an independent scholar, has pieced together a history of how humans have constructed the idea of virginity (almost always female and heterosexual) and engineered its uses to suit cultural and political forces. Thoroughly researched, carefully argued and written with a sly sense of humor, this is a bright addition to the popular literature of women's and cultural studies. 2007, Bloomsbury USA

Why Is Sex Fun?: the Evolution of Human Sexuality by Jared M. DiamondWhy is Sex Fun?: the Evolution of Human Sexuality

Unique aspects of human sexuality that are not shared with other mamals: female menopause, male's role in society, having sex in private and - most unusual of all - having sex for fun instead of for procreation. Biologist and science author Diamond uses comparative evolution to pose credible and thought-provoking explanations. 1998, Basic Books

Why we Love: the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen FisherWhy we Love: the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

Anthropologist Fisher argues that much of our romantic behavior is hard-wired. Citing behavioral research into the effects of two crucial chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine, she includes fascinating information on romance and love among non-human animals. Fisher also reports on the behaviors that lead to successful life-long partnerships and offers numerous tips on staying in love. 2005, Owl Books

Woman: An Intimate Geography by natalie AngierWoman: An Intimate Geography

Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, as far as the health care profession is concerned the standard operating design of the human body is male. In Woman, Angier has created a provocative "scientific fantasia of womanhood," a spirited and thoroughly informed study of how the body is "a map of meaning and freedom." She presents new theories on the evolution of women's anatomy, physiology and social behaviors. With wit and verve, Angier discusses such topics as ovulation, conception and birth; the social and physiological functions of breasts; orgasm, mate selection and child-rearing behavior; the complex workings of estrogen; hysterectomy; muscle strength; and female aggression and bonding. Her wide-ranging celebration of the female body engages the intellect but, more importantly, also offers a rigorous challenge to male-oriented theories of biology. 2000, Anchor

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