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An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never exist—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all. The first lesson in this essential, transformative book by Dr. Emily Nagoski is that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint, and that women vary more than men in our anatomy, our sexual response mechanisms, and the way our bodies respond to the sexual world. So we never need to judge ourselves based on others’ experiences. Because women vary, and that’s normal. Second lesson: sex happens in a context. And all the complications of everyday life influence the context surrounding a woman’s arousal, desire, and orgasm. Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible. And Emily Nagoski can prove it.


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An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never exist—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all. The first lesson in this essential, transformative book by Dr. Emily Nagoski is that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint, and that women vary more than men in our anatomy, our sexual response mechanisms, and the way our bodies respond to the sexual world. So we never need to judge ourselves based on others’ experiences. Because women vary, and that’s normal. Second lesson: sex happens in a context. And all the complications of everyday life influence the context surrounding a woman’s arousal, desire, and orgasm. Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible. And Emily Nagoski can prove it.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    All right so this is not the book I thought it was when I got it, and I apologise for a rating that would surely be higher if I were part of the target audience. I was hoping it was a survey of the latest scientific research into arousal disorders and sexuality; in fact, it's a very selective presentation of those pieces of research that are considered helpful in ‘promoting women's sexual well-being, autonomy and pleasure’. Studies, however revealing, which do not promote such things are ignored All right so this is not the book I thought it was when I got it, and I apologise for a rating that would surely be higher if I were part of the target audience. I was hoping it was a survey of the latest scientific research into arousal disorders and sexuality; in fact, it's a very selective presentation of those pieces of research that are considered helpful in ‘promoting women's sexual well-being, autonomy and pleasure’. Studies, however revealing, which do not promote such things are ignored. In other words, the book is primarily therapy, not science. Perhaps not surprising given that the author is a sex therapist, but I hadn't realised that – I thought she was a researcher. I've been very intentional about the empirical details I've included or excluded. I asked myself, “Does this fact help women have better sex lives, or is it just a totally fascinating and important empirical puzzle?” And I cut the puzzles. This means that, although there is some useful information here, it is interspersed with a lot of rather irritating, vaguely encouraging bullshit about ‘living with confidence and joy inside your body’, reassurances that you are ‘all normal, all beautiful’, and exhortations to ‘listen with your heart, not with your fear’. Naturally as a British passport-holder I cannot read this stuff without feeling my toes clench and my testicles retract into my body, and the narrative tone doesn't help either. Nagoski writes in the earnest, chatty way of someone trying to write a book for people who don't read books, with lots of forcedly colloquial comments like, ‘Wait: what?’ and, ‘For realsie real.’ OK, fine, I am clearly not the target audience, I get that, but for me it gets incredibly grating when every hint of scientific information is hedged around with encouragements and stupid metaphors and open condescension: before a section on the hedonic centres of the mesolimbic cortex (which Nagoski calls ‘your emotional One Ring’), she warns, ‘It gets pretty nerdy here […] Ready? Okay’, and afterwards pats us on the head by asking, ‘Did you make it? Phew! That was the hard part. Nice job.’ Gee thanks, Dr Nagoski! Aristophanes, in Plato's Symposium—and for those of you who very understandably just fell asleep, replace that with the song “The Origin of Love” from John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Itch—offers this parable about why humans love… Really? What I found so infuriating about all this is the implied gendering of her tone – it's somehow pitched at a certain idea of women, as though they have no interest in hard science and need their research presented in the form of a Cosmo quiz. It's really outrageous; I don't know if I should be taking it as some reflection on the state of US science education, but the total horror of any scientific terminology, combined with the girlfriends-chatting-over-a-Manhattan tone, just left a really bad taste in the mouth. (Men come off no better – Nagoski writes that she has to ‘translate the science of women's sexual well-being into Manly Fix-It Dude-Speak’ to talk to her clients' partners….) The reason this is so frustrating is that the actual research presented is pretty important and, in some cases, not so well known. The two presiding ideas in the book, I think, are the concept of responsive v. spontaneous desire, and the dual control model of sexual arousal. The terms ‘responsive desire’ and ‘spontaneous desire’ have been floating around for over a decade now – I think the key paper was Basson et al. 2003 (although Nagoski says they were coined by Ellen Laan and Stephanie Both, which may be true; Laan is one of the authors of that paper). The basic idea is that while some people can get turned on while walking down the street or doing the dishes, for others it's something that only happens in response to situations that have already been made explicitly erotic. Arousal first, desire second. The disparity between these different kinds of desire is, of course, behind a lot of relationship stresses, whence Nagoski's clinical interest. For her what's important here is to point out that responsive desire is perfectly OK and is not the same as ‘low desire’. A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and never experience spontaneous sexual desire. Instead, she may experience ‘responsive’ desire, in which her desire emerges only in a highly erotic context. She writes ‘a woman’ – and there may well be a sex divide. Nagoski estimates (on somewhat shaky data, because research into this is limited) that five percent of men and thirty percent of women have responsive desire, compared with seventy-five percent of men and five percent of women whose desire is ‘spontaneous’. (This leaves most women and twenty percent of men whose desire style changes based on the context – a rather large amount which does slightly throw the whole model into question. Asexuality is not addressed.) Nagoski is understandably worried about the idea that sexual desire which differs from the male norm is pathologised as ‘broken’ or defective in some way, something to be ‘fixed’ by taking a so-far-mythical pill; she wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times back in February on this subject. It's all good stuff and it's certainly a vocabulary that more people should have at their disposal. However, it should be noted that other models of sexual desire are available. It's also worth saying that all we are really doing here is playing semantics. Thinking about responsive desire as a thing might help people to feel better about themselves and not to feel broken – which is good, and they're not – but it doesn't really say anything about what's actually going on. What affects whether desire is spontaneous or responsive? Hormones? Neurology? Upbringing? Culture? (This semantics issue is something the whole book suffers from – same goes for her long and heartfelt rant about why we do not have a sex ‘drive’ but rather an ‘incentive motivation system’. For the life of me after reading that section several times, I couldn't work out what the difference was supposed to be.) Even more than responsive desire, Nagoski is excited about something called the Dual Control Model of Arousal. This is the idea developed by two researchers at the Kinsey Institute in 2006 (the paper's here) and essentially what it does is to consider libido in terms of those psychosomatic processes that promote sexual arousal, and in terms of those that restrain it. The paper posits a Sexual Excitation System (SES) on the one hand, and a Sexual Inhibition System (SIS) on the other; Nagoski calls them the accelerators and the brakes. The SES is that part of you that constantly scans your thoughts and the world around you for sexually-relevant data; the SIS is – not inhibitions in the layman's sense, but a necessary consideration of negative consequences of any sexual activity, whether medical, social, psychological or whatever. Conceptualising things in this way turns out to add quite a lot of nuance to how we think about arousal. People with arousal problems differ fundamentally in where the issue lies: some have a low SES (i.e. not many things actually turn them on in principle), while others have a very rich SES but just a highly sensitive inhibition system which stops them reacting as fully as they otherwise might, unless conditions are ideal. Similarly, sexual risk-taking like unprotected sex, cheating and so on, is sometimes correlated with low SIS and sometimes with abnormally high SES. Nagoski very sensibly suggests that a prerequisite to overcoming arousal problems is understanding one's own SES and SIS – getting familiar with what exactly it is that turns you on and turns you off, and creating contexts where the former are maximised and the latter minimised. There are lots of interesting studies that bear on these ideas in various ways. It was found, for example, that wearing socks made it easier for women to orgasm while masturbating in a brain imaging machine. This is not because there are more sock fetishists than previously appreciated, but simply because it's distracting if you have cold feet, and depending on your personal SIS little distractions of this kind can add up fast (especially, one presumes, when trying to get off inside a brain imaging machine). It's clear that Nagoski wants to back up her ideas by using interviews with her clients, to demonstrate how helpful these concepts can be. And some interviews like this would indeed have been great – books like Brett Kahr's Sex and the Psyche show how well clinical transcripts can work in books of this kind. But, pleading confidentiality issues, Nagoski instead invents fictional couples who she says are composites of the many people she has treated in real life, and the book is interspersed with transcripts of how these fictional people were fictionally treated. Reading these made-up conversations with made-up couples, who nod and gasp appropriately at all her revelations, is an exercise in pure frustration. There were times when I wanted to throw this book across the room, and it's only thanks to the good fortune that I was reading it on my iPad that I was forced to press on. Nevertheless, there are small parts of it that I'd like to cut out and circulate to everyone I know, so it is an odd mix. Parts of the book, I mean, not my iPad. Nagoski is after all basically coming from the right place and talking about the right things, and she's not afraid of making some big claims for her field either. Do I think that living with confidence and joy and respecting everyone's sexual autonomy could play a role in preventing cancer, solving the climate crisis, or building world peace? Yes, actually. No way I can one-star a book saying something as close to my heart as that. And I guess if what you want is something therapeutic rather than just informative, then this will fit the bill pretty well. Still, despite all the interesting material to be uncovered in here, it is hard to shake off the vague feeling that you're getting a lecture on sexual dysfunction from a children's television presenter. (Oct 2015)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Khurram

    Ok when I saw the tile of this book it thought probably what everyone else though about this book. (Ok the introduction and chapter 8 and appendix one might be, but the rest is science over myth), If it did not come so highly recommended from a respected friend of mine from uni. I probably would not every given it the first look. Read is as some "light reading" doing her PhD in Psychology. So of course she decided to experiment on her friend to get a male perspective on the book. So let me get t Ok when I saw the tile of this book it thought probably what everyone else though about this book. (Ok the introduction and chapter 8 and appendix one might be, but the rest is science over myth), If it did not come so highly recommended from a respected friend of mine from uni. I probably would not every given it the first look. Read is as some "light reading" doing her PhD in Psychology. So of course she decided to experiment on her friend to get a male perspective on the book. So let me get this out of the way first. No!! This is not a collection of sex stories. There are actual case studies. They are not written to be provocative but to understand the feeling or the accelerators and the breaks. Thought Emily does quote a number of scientific theories and is by her own admission a "nerd" (no judgement I have been a proud geek for years), you do not have to be to understand the book, it is written in an easy to read way. I found there is a lot of truth to this book, and even though it is written primarily for women in mind I think both me men and women can lean a lot from it and will see traits of both in the case studies. I also think there are some very important messages in this book the main one being the first like and echoed through out the book "you are OK. You are normal. You are not broken". Usually when ever we do not fit the mold or something does not live up out our expectations one of those three thought does through our heads. the other messages that she tries to show us are the messages we are bombarded with through out our lives the "that is wrong", "you should look like this", or "that is not normal". I quite like the idea of celebrating differences then persecuting people for them. This is a great book with a lot of insightful theories, and science against myth and breaking down some pretty big wall. theories of sex ans psychology have been linked since Sigmund Freud, as some theories have moved on others we still have so much to learn about in others. A great book that should be read by everyone, and commented on what you agree with or disagree with.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    The information in this book is solid gold. A copy should be put in the hands of every person, ideally before they've had sexual contact with another person. But. BUT. The metaphors. Dear Lord, the metaphors. We have sexuality as an accelerator and brakes, sexuality as an overgrown garden, sexuality as a hot water heater, complex feelings as a sleeping hedgehog, sexual interest as a customers seeking a diner, sexual expectations as a touchy monitor tapping her fingernails, our brains as a flock The information in this book is solid gold. A copy should be put in the hands of every person, ideally before they've had sexual contact with another person. But. BUT. The metaphors. Dear Lord, the metaphors. We have sexuality as an accelerator and brakes, sexuality as an overgrown garden, sexuality as a hot water heater, complex feelings as a sleeping hedgehog, sexual interest as a customers seeking a diner, sexual expectations as a touchy monitor tapping her fingernails, our brains as a flock of birds, and SO MANY OTHERS I CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER. I understand and applaud what Nagoski is doing in terms of wanting to convey big complicated cognitive functions in more relatable prose. But it touches a nerve for me when writers anthropomorphize female sexuality. I find it infantilizing. I'm a big girl, just tell me what my brain is doing, I can read about chemicals and neurons and whatnot. I don't need to imagine my brain as a lion and my pelvis as a caveman or whatever other nonsense. So 5 stars for the content, 4 stars for the chatty conversational writing style (which did not annoy me but will probably polarize some readers) and 1 star for the overworked metaphors.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    It’s hard not to love a book with a pseudo-vagina on the front; it’s even harder not to love that same book for smashing all the preconceived ideas we have about female (and by comparison, male) sexuality. Like, for example, did you know that the hymen as an indication of virginity is entirely a social construction and there is no scientific evidence backing it? Using actual, real science, Dr. Emily Nagoski – a speak-the-truth-and-only-the-truth sex educator/professor – breaks down all the thing It’s hard not to love a book with a pseudo-vagina on the front; it’s even harder not to love that same book for smashing all the preconceived ideas we have about female (and by comparison, male) sexuality. Like, for example, did you know that the hymen as an indication of virginity is entirely a social construction and there is no scientific evidence backing it? Using actual, real science, Dr. Emily Nagoski – a speak-the-truth-and-only-the-truth sex educator/professor – breaks down all the things we think we know about sex and desire and drive and, in the process, makes you feel like not are you normal, but we’re ALL normal. As she says over and over and over, “We’re all made up of the same basic parts, just organized differently.” In other words, there is no normal. This is a game changer of a human sexuality book – not just for women, who have always been told that men’s sexuality is the default (HINT: it’s not) – but for men who love women and don’t understand why the things that work for them, don’t work for women. Just….just go buy this. Buy this and read it and try not to be that weird person pushing a sex book on every single lady person you know. Because these are all lessons we need to learn. Better for us, better for everyone. — Rachel Manwill from The Best Books We Read in April: http://bookriot.com/2015/05/01/riot-r...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Come As You Are is absolutely the best book I've ever read, not just on sex, but on life and well being in general. Why read another book on sex? Because Emily describes how your brain and your life work together to create desire, and how to experience more pleasure, more joy, and more confidence with your relationships AND with sex. But this isn't the usual sex book with lavish promises of ecstasy by learning detailed techniques of where to put this and how to put it there. Emily gives you scie Come As You Are is absolutely the best book I've ever read, not just on sex, but on life and well being in general. Why read another book on sex? Because Emily describes how your brain and your life work together to create desire, and how to experience more pleasure, more joy, and more confidence with your relationships AND with sex. But this isn't the usual sex book with lavish promises of ecstasy by learning detailed techniques of where to put this and how to put it there. Emily gives you science that feels like a warm, soothing hug for all of the insecurities you've ever felt about your body, your sex, and your relationships, and then she describes how to apply science to your life so that you end up with the pleasure, joy and confidence. To be honest, after finishing a draft of this book, I felt more peace and well being than I'd felt in about ten years, which is about when I started worrying about my body and sex. And it's because Emily is describing how your brain interprets stress and how your body responds because of that, how to actually manage stress without just trying to relax, and how you can create a life that your body will respond all kinds of YES to. Then add in science about how your brain works with goals, and what kind of goal you have around your sex life, and then you can appreciate how to work with the reality of your life and not just the fantasy of what you want your love life to be. I've read Emily's blog for a couple years now, but the way she puts everything together and elaborates on all the science makes everything click in a way that feels reassuring and full of potential. I'm now reading parts of the draft again, and understanding even better how all of the elements work together to build joy and confidence and pleasure. It's truly beautiful. Come As You Are is the most practical book I've ever read about sex, and with this book and Sheri Winston's Anatomy of Arousal, I would never have needed any other book on sex. And I bought hundreds. I'm also not the most sciencey person, and luckily, Emily explains really complicated concepts in an easy to apply way. I really think this book could change our culture's whole idea of sexuality in a way that creates more pleasure for everyone.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Books like this are why I LOVE non-fiction. This should be required reading on female sexuality, both for those with vaginas and those who are interested in or love someone with a vagina. I mention the parts here because they ARE a big component of the book. This is a guide to how everyone has the same parts, rearranged differently, and it's our perception of that and relationship with that mentality that changes our feelings, perceptions, and experiences of sex itself. Nagoski writes in an empow Books like this are why I LOVE non-fiction. This should be required reading on female sexuality, both for those with vaginas and those who are interested in or love someone with a vagina. I mention the parts here because they ARE a big component of the book. This is a guide to how everyone has the same parts, rearranged differently, and it's our perception of that and relationship with that mentality that changes our feelings, perceptions, and experiences of sex itself. Nagoski writes in an empowering, encouraging, fun, and yes, FUNNY, manner. I would hand this to every single woman I know. For me, the biggest take away, the moment which took this from really good to outstanding, was her discussion on body image, on body weight, and how it is our culture plus some that screws us up so bad. In short, it's the patriarchy that smashes female desire, love, and interest in sex and in their own sexual beings and experiences. We accept male-as-default forgetting that also means women lose out over and over and over again. Buy this one. Read it. Then pass it along. Seriously. It's THAT good.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life is a nonfiction, self-help book written by sex educator, researcher, and author Emily Nagoski. It educates about a variety of issues that impact women's sexuality, and while some of it got quite repetitive in my opinion and I didn't quite take away as much new information as I expected to, I'm glad I read it. My favorite part discussed how the model of sexual response is based entirely on how men work, and if women fai Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life is a nonfiction, self-help book written by sex educator, researcher, and author Emily Nagoski. It educates about a variety of issues that impact women's sexuality, and while some of it got quite repetitive in my opinion and I didn't quite take away as much new information as I expected to, I'm glad I read it. My favorite part discussed how the model of sexual response is based entirely on how men work, and if women fail to be like men, they are often not considered sexually normal. Any woman can tell you this isn't breaking news but I thought having a whole section themed with "you are normal, it's the world around you that's broken" was incredibly validating. I will forever and a day support women who choose the science field, and I have a high appreciation for Ms. Nagoski's reasons for writing this book in the first place. Check it out! My favorite quote: "When people ask me, "Am I normal?" They're asking, "Do I belong?" The answer is yes. You belong in your body. You belong in the world. You've belonged since the day you were born, this is your home. You don't have to earn it by conforming to some externally imposed sexual standard." 7/6/16: I'm actually super excited about this book. No shame ladies - learning is good!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cher

    2 stars - Meh. Just ok. I love the concept behind this book and it started off very interesting and introduced several facts of which I was not previously aware. Unfortunately, it then became a long repetitive read with the bulk majority of the information being mostly common sense, and started to feel like a self-help book vs a nonfiction book on a fascinating topic. I found myself doing a lot of skimming on the back half wondering if there would be another interesting chapter coming up (like th 2 stars - Meh. Just ok. I love the concept behind this book and it started off very interesting and introduced several facts of which I was not previously aware. Unfortunately, it then became a long repetitive read with the bulk majority of the information being mostly common sense, and started to feel like a self-help book vs a nonfiction book on a fascinating topic. I found myself doing a lot of skimming on the back half wondering if there would be another interesting chapter coming up (like the start of the book), but the back 75% was rather dull for me. Worth a read if you feel clueless in this area. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: Women have cultural permission to criticize ourselves, but we are punished if we praise ourselves, if we dare to say that we like ourselves the way we are. First Sentence: To be a sex educator is to be asked questions.

  9. 4 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    For some women I have no doubt this would be a life-changing book. I definitely learned some cool stuff, things I am pissed that I did not know (because, patriarchy). But I guess I'm lucky enough that I don't really need the 'self-help' of this book to help with my sex life, and this aspect is really the meat of the book. Also, Nagoski acknowledges that the book is for and about cisgender women, so that omission didn't bother me (there isn't enough science about trans women or enby people), but For some women I have no doubt this would be a life-changing book. I definitely learned some cool stuff, things I am pissed that I did not know (because, patriarchy). But I guess I'm lucky enough that I don't really need the 'self-help' of this book to help with my sex life, and this aspect is really the meat of the book. Also, Nagoski acknowledges that the book is for and about cisgender women, so that omission didn't bother me (there isn't enough science about trans women or enby people), but I did still feel like it was suited for straight women in long term monogamous relationships, which Nagoski doesn't give a disclaimer for like she does the focus on cis women. The examples of lesbians didn't really feel like they were specific to those experiences and bi women don't come up at all. Single and poly women wouldn't get a lot out of this that would speak specifically to those experiences either, I don't think. Plus, the metaphors used to explain absolutely everything got to me after a while.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Updating review: I wrote this review almost five years ago. I'm cringing at using "lady parts". I still stick to my five star review, it helped me open up a lot sexually. I still recommend it to everyone, whether you identify as man or woman. Original review: I picked up this book because I was interested in the science and emotion connecting woman’s sexuality without sounding like a text-book or a Cosmo article. This book doesn’t just talk about your lady parts, it celebrates them, a notion I’m Updating review: I wrote this review almost five years ago. I'm cringing at using "lady parts". I still stick to my five star review, it helped me open up a lot sexually. I still recommend it to everyone, whether you identify as man or woman. Original review: I picked up this book because I was interested in the science and emotion connecting woman’s sexuality without sounding like a text-book or a Cosmo article. This book doesn’t just talk about your lady parts, it celebrates them, a notion I’m not familiar with. I felt for the first time I got a glimpse of how I am as a woman and how my sexuality is connected to every part of life. I think every woman should read this book- if it will help a fellow reader understand their body better, it’s worth reading. Even if you don’t have sex, are a virgin, hate sex or have an amazing sex life, don’t let the title throw you off. It’s a book to celebrate the female body, and the emotions and sexuality involved. I’ll admit I didn’t even want to add this book to “currently reading” list on Goodreads because I was embarrassed. There’s nothing embarrassing about being a 30-something year old healthy woman who enjoys sex but I just thought talking about sex was something shameful. If I had this book years ago, I can’t imagine the stress it would have saved me. Regardless if the topic of sex makes you blush or not, please read this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book is so fantastic. I want to hand it out on the street. I want to buy a copy for every bridal shower I ever go to (for the bride AND groom). I want to buy two copies to save and give to my daughters one day. It's just great. Emily Nagoski. Can we be friends please? She's such a wise, understanding, encouraging, inspiring scientist! Her main ideas are that women's sexuality is not men's-sexuality-lite, that women approach sex (attraction, desire, arousal) differently and that's normal, an This book is so fantastic. I want to hand it out on the street. I want to buy a copy for every bridal shower I ever go to (for the bride AND groom). I want to buy two copies to save and give to my daughters one day. It's just great. Emily Nagoski. Can we be friends please? She's such a wise, understanding, encouraging, inspiring scientist! Her main ideas are that women's sexuality is not men's-sexuality-lite, that women approach sex (attraction, desire, arousal) differently and that's normal, and also that women often approach things differently from other women - and that's normal! It's all about accepting yourself where you are and recognizing the ways that culture & media have told us lies about our bodies and sexuality. It's about being a whole person who is forgiving and patient and kind to herself in all areas of life - including sexuality. I keep writing and then deleting this review so I'm just going to end it here w a quote. "When people ask me "Am I normal?" They're asking, "Do I belong?" The answer is yes. You belong in your body. You belong in the world. You've belonged since the day you were born, this is your home. You don't have to earn by conforming to some externally imposed standard. ...You are normal. Beautiful. And as long as you're not experiencing pain, you're healthy. So when you notice yourself feeling dissatisfied with your sexuality, when you notice shame or frustration or grief, allow yourself to direct those feelings away from yourself and instead focus those emotions toward the culture that told you the wrong story."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Harris

    I've taken awhile to finish this, partly because I read it twice, and also because it requires careful thought and time to process. Pretty much every page contains some new and surprising concept on sexuality, body image and self-esteem. Written in clear, simple, sympathetic prose, every woman - and arguably, every man who has ever been baffled by a woman's sexuality - should read this. I've taken awhile to finish this, partly because I read it twice, and also because it requires careful thought and time to process. Pretty much every page contains some new and surprising concept on sexuality, body image and self-esteem. Written in clear, simple, sympathetic prose, every woman - and arguably, every man who has ever been baffled by a woman's sexuality - should read this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I kept searching for the "SCIENCE" that was promised in the title. There was some there, but the book is a soft self affirmation. There were some interesting bits, but not enough to warrant a full reading. I kept searching for the "SCIENCE" that was promised in the title. There was some there, but the book is a soft self affirmation. There were some interesting bits, but not enough to warrant a full reading.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josie

    Everyone with a vagina or interested in interacting with a vagina needs to read this book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Isil Arican

    This book reminds me why I hate reading self help books. I listened an interview with the writer in a podcast and read couple of chapters and enjoyed it. However the remaining of the book is pretty disappointing. Writer thinks she is funny and she is not. And the style is mostly for teenagers. There are some useful information but it feels too redundant since she keeps repeating the same things over and over again. Some arguments are pretty fallacious. I laughed out loud when she made an analogy This book reminds me why I hate reading self help books. I listened an interview with the writer in a podcast and read couple of chapters and enjoyed it. However the remaining of the book is pretty disappointing. Writer thinks she is funny and she is not. And the style is mostly for teenagers. There are some useful information but it feels too redundant since she keeps repeating the same things over and over again. Some arguments are pretty fallacious. I laughed out loud when she made an analogy on losing weight - removing your brain makes you lose 4 pounds of fat, or amputation would make your BMI go down. My laugh was not because she is funny but because of the ridiculous analogies she made. And "Don't yuck others yum"?! Seriously sounds like a book for kindergarten kids.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    5/5 stars A wonderful introduction to human sexuality - female specifically - and what it means to be human. Also a great introduction to sexual ethics, anatomy and feminist philosophy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cowgirlgem

    This is a book that everyone would read! While it is framed as a book for women, there are so few times when it is women specific that I really wish it was just framed as a book for people. The most important topics covered in this book are: How the media misinforms people as to what is normal for people's sex life (hint: everything is normal). Nonconcordence - where peoples bodies and desires act in opposite ways, and why this can happen. Responsive desire- Where rather than becoming aroused seeming This is a book that everyone would read! While it is framed as a book for women, there are so few times when it is women specific that I really wish it was just framed as a book for people. The most important topics covered in this book are: How the media misinforms people as to what is normal for people's sex life (hint: everything is normal). Nonconcordence - where peoples bodies and desires act in opposite ways, and why this can happen. Responsive desire- Where rather than becoming aroused seemingly out of the blue (known as spontaneous desire) about half of all people (and most women) only become aroused when they are given something sexy to react to. The sexual brake system we have, where one part of our brain may go 'this is sexy, time to do the sexy thing' another part goes 'but what about the kids, people might see us, i have so much to do...'. Someone with strong brakes may need more work to turn them off and feel ready for sexy times than someone with weaker brakes. Sex is not a drive!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsey

    I just want to buy this book for every woman I know. No, every PERSON I know. Nagoski gives the explanation of female sexuality that I think most of us didn't get in health class or anywhere else really. The subtitle is click-bait-y. I do think this book has the power to improve the sex lives of those who read it, but not because it's some kind of kinky how-to book. It can do this because it's a great explanation of how women's bodies work and how history and culture have done us a great disserv I just want to buy this book for every woman I know. No, every PERSON I know. Nagoski gives the explanation of female sexuality that I think most of us didn't get in health class or anywhere else really. The subtitle is click-bait-y. I do think this book has the power to improve the sex lives of those who read it, but not because it's some kind of kinky how-to book. It can do this because it's a great explanation of how women's bodies work and how history and culture have done us a great disservice through the myths they disseminate. Important for women and the people who love them. Read it. Do it. You won't be sorry.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    This book was awesome for some reasons and a bit cringe-worthy for others. I'll start out with the good: This book is full of things that any person even remotely interested in sex should know. The author references specific studies, which lend credibility to her concepts. The book is empowering to women, assuring them that it is the sex culture that is the problem, not the way that women experience pleasure and desire - the map is wrong, not the terrain. This is a valuable message for people on This book was awesome for some reasons and a bit cringe-worthy for others. I'll start out with the good: This book is full of things that any person even remotely interested in sex should know. The author references specific studies, which lend credibility to her concepts. The book is empowering to women, assuring them that it is the sex culture that is the problem, not the way that women experience pleasure and desire - the map is wrong, not the terrain. This is a valuable message for people on the entire sexual spectrum. Unfortunately, while the tone of the writing was meant to be friendly and casual (and sometimes it is), other times it comes off as too cheeky for my taste. The book was also repetitive. I think that was on purpose, so that someone could read any given chapter and understand what came before it and what will come next, which is great if you want to share a specific concept with someone else. If you're going to read the book straight through, though, it gets a little irritating. Then, the book was written exclusively for women, despite the fact that men need to hear this too. I think some small tweaks would have made this empowering for women (and it's important that the focus is on women) but accessible to men as well.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    When the title of a book claims to tackle “The Surprising New Science,” I would expect to actually have new research references and more sciencey information about “responsive desire” vs “spontaneous desire,” arousal disorders, and women sexuality. But then again, it is followed by the highly self-help-ish “Will Transform Your Sex Life,” so I should have known better. The author does throw in some studies and articles - plus some Plato, for good measure -, but the chatty tone of the book is rath When the title of a book claims to tackle “The Surprising New Science,” I would expect to actually have new research references and more sciencey information about “responsive desire” vs “spontaneous desire,” arousal disorders, and women sexuality. But then again, it is followed by the highly self-help-ish “Will Transform Your Sex Life,” so I should have known better. The author does throw in some studies and articles - plus some Plato, for good measure -, but the chatty tone of the book is rather that of a therapy session, if not downright colloquial. I felt like overhearing a very long conversation between girlfriends. The reassurance that “we are all normal” and that our differences are “all normal, all beautiful” soon became an irritating catchphrase and an insufficient explanation. I also found the two teensy-tiny sections addressing traumatic experiences, by emphasizing that “you can simply begin practicing mindfulness, and gradually the trauma will work its way out, like shrapnel from an old wound,” almost laughable! When you’re using phrases like “for realsie real” and “have all the feels” (with tons of ‘feels” variations) it is very hard for me to take you seriously. Few of the things discussed here were fundamentally new to me, others simply commonsensical, so clearly I may not be the target audience.

  21. 5 out of 5

    da AL

    Arousal nonconcordance — everyone who is interested in female sexuality benefits from knowing about this — and far more! “With every brave conversation we have, we make the world that little bit better," says author and sex educator Emily Nagoski. Scientific, sensitive, and entertaining, she decimates taboos to explain of how female genitals work. “Why would you want to be normal when you can be extraordinary?” she asks at the end of this TED Talk that’s just a sample of her wisdom and style: ht Arousal nonconcordance — everyone who is interested in female sexuality benefits from knowing about this — and far more! “With every brave conversation we have, we make the world that little bit better," says author and sex educator Emily Nagoski. Scientific, sensitive, and entertaining, she decimates taboos to explain of how female genitals work. “Why would you want to be normal when you can be extraordinary?” she asks at the end of this TED Talk that’s just a sample of her wisdom and style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_co...

  22. 4 out of 5

    LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)

    This did more for my mental health than my sexual health, tbh. But then again a big narrative of this book is that where you are mentally affects where you are sexually, which makes sense. The book has 9 chapters and at the end of each chapter it has a TL;DR section, so I'm going to do that for this review. Here are MY main takeaways: 1. Everyone is born with a garden to tend (that's our sexuality). What's planted in that garden isn't up to us, it's up to our parents and other outside influences. This did more for my mental health than my sexual health, tbh. But then again a big narrative of this book is that where you are mentally affects where you are sexually, which makes sense. The book has 9 chapters and at the end of each chapter it has a TL;DR section, so I'm going to do that for this review. Here are MY main takeaways: 1. Everyone is born with a garden to tend (that's our sexuality). What's planted in that garden isn't up to us, it's up to our parents and other outside influences. How we tend that garden is influenced by social construct. Some of us were planted with flowers and taught to love and care for our garden (positive outlook on sexuality) while other gardens were planted with weeds and left to rot (negative outlook). It is never too late though to change how you tend your garden (your outlook on sexuality) 2. While we can be really good at dealing with stressors, we're actually not that good at dealing with the actual stress. "Keeping calm" is all well and good but our bodies were built to process stress fully and so we need to do that, either with physical activity, screaming, or some other sort of release. 3. Speaking of gardens, just because I have an aloe garden that only needs a little bit of sunlight, that doesn't make it any better or worse than your tomato garden that needs lots of sunlight. It just makes it different. It also doesn't mean that you should also have an aloe garden instead of a tomato garden, or that I should also have a tomato garden instead of my aloe garden. 4. Women have been taught that we are "broken" because our libidos and our arousal differs than men, because men are the default preferred sexual functioning, when really we're just women. 5. It's not how you feel, it's how you feel ABOUT how you feel. We've been taught that negative emotions are not ok and so we feel bad when we DO have them. Which then just makes us feel worse. It's a dangerous cycle. So just recognize that you're having a negative emotion, process it completely, and then move on. 6. Our Western Puritan views on sex and sexuality have really fucked women over, but it's not too late to change. I think this is one of those where, even if you have a great sex life, you could still gain something from this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elise Cripe

    I listened to this. I think if i would have read I would have skimmed. I am glad I had to hear the whole thing because she repeats herself (in a good way) a lot and I think it’s good retraining for the brain to hear some of these ideas over and over again. I wish I had read this in high school and I look forward to having my daughters read it when they are older.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

    Loved her message but didn't love her style. Loved her message but didn't love her style.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I actually first heard about this book from Alyssa Cole. When she visited the Tucson Festival of Books last year, I went to a panel she was on about consent being sexy, and she mentioned that she was reading it, and had learned a lot of things people assume about women’s sexuality was wrong. I put it on my TBR but just never got around to it, despite sexuality being one of my favorite things to read about. Luckily one of my IRL book club members picked this for our next read, and I was immediate I actually first heard about this book from Alyssa Cole. When she visited the Tucson Festival of Books last year, I went to a panel she was on about consent being sexy, and she mentioned that she was reading it, and had learned a lot of things people assume about women’s sexuality was wrong. I put it on my TBR but just never got around to it, despite sexuality being one of my favorite things to read about. Luckily one of my IRL book club members picked this for our next read, and I was immediately excited (one of the other members, my longtime friend, wasn’t paying attention because she was chasing after her toddler, so when the book arrived in the mail from Amazon with its suggestive pseudo-vagina cover, she got quite the shock; this story has no point, I just like it, and the text exchanges were very amusing to me). The book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, though. I was expecting an informative, science-based book, aimed at educating the public about how sex really works, with a feminist focus. And it was that! But, it is also a self-help book. This makes sense, because Nagoski is a sex therapist, and she wrote the book not only to educate in a general sense, but to literally help anyone who reads the book to have a better, more satisfying sex life through understanding how their sexual responses actually work. Will note here, as the book does up front: there just hasn’t been enough research on trans women’s bodies, or those people who identify as non-binary, for Nagoski to have drawn conclusions about how their bodies work, if there are differences. So this is a book focused on sex responses in cis women (and to a much, much smaller extent, cis men). The main premise of the book is that most of our cultural understandings about sex treat women’s bodies and sexualities the same as men’s, and that if women’s bodies are seen to work in ways that are different, they are considered broken. Nagoski’s main thing is to prove that for various social, genetic, and other environmental factors, women’s bodies work different than men’s when it comes to sex. Her other main thing is stressing that unless you are in pain, your body and your reactions are entirely normal. There is a huge range of diversity built into human sexuality, and no matter where you are on the spectrum, you do not need to be “fixed”. Instead, through evidence based techniques, she shows you how to adjust your thinking and your environment (your “context”) instead of thinking you are broken and trying to fix yourself. The main focus is definitely on the individual (and the individual’s partner), but she does stress that cultural change would make a lot of this easier for everyone. I thought the two strongest chapters were when she talked about nonconcordance (the idea that bodily reactions do not always correspond to actual arousal; in men concordance only happens 50% of the time, in women 10%), and the chapter where she talked about stress. I’m not even going to try and go into the details, because her arguments live in those details that she provides, and I will bungle it. I will just say that she provides some really neat shifts in perspective that seem like they would be incredibly helpful. And all of it is backed by actual science, and explanations for how and why the body does what it does. Highly recommend this one!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    I'd like to recommend this book to every human being I know! What a gift to relationships it would be! This is a book about the science of arousal and sexual desire, well-written with humor and affection, happily sex positive. Having taught sexuality education within the structures of the UU church, this is the book I wish we had all had as background reading before we began. Well done! The basic message: "You are all different and you are normal." Yes, it is repeated many, many times, but some I'd like to recommend this book to every human being I know! What a gift to relationships it would be! This is a book about the science of arousal and sexual desire, well-written with humor and affection, happily sex positive. Having taught sexuality education within the structures of the UU church, this is the book I wish we had all had as background reading before we began. Well done! The basic message: "You are all different and you are normal." Yes, it is repeated many, many times, but some folks need that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    I didn't love the self-help aspect of this book. The author included some science - studies, explanation of the biological/neurological aspects involved in various sexual processes-- but felt a little too Deepak Chopra for me. The metaphors were not great- sexual self as garden, orgasm as birds or flock of birds. She should have either gone with the science *or* gone with the inspirational, feel good, nonscientific approach. Trying to use pretend science to promote Chopra-like inspirations just I didn't love the self-help aspect of this book. The author included some science - studies, explanation of the biological/neurological aspects involved in various sexual processes-- but felt a little too Deepak Chopra for me. The metaphors were not great- sexual self as garden, orgasm as birds or flock of birds. She should have either gone with the science *or* gone with the inspirational, feel good, nonscientific approach. Trying to use pretend science to promote Chopra-like inspirations just didn't work. At first, I thought, even if the reader doesn't need the self help, it's still a great subject to learn more about. I am a strong believer in talking openly about sex. I saw this book on the nominee list for best nonfiction and I wanted to like it. The first half of the book was much better than the second half. I should have just stopped reading, but I thought the good would peak through again. It didn't. The author made sweeping unsupported statements and promoted generalized "cures" for sexual disfunction that seemed like maybe they might or might not work, but where is the evidence? I realize this was supposed to be a master's class but it was not a class I feel I would learn a lot from. Sadly, March Roach's sarcastic look at sex, Bonk, taught me far more actual facts about sex. I enjoyed it much more than this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

    I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book changed my life. So here’s my long review. For the next year, I will be gifting this book to every single woman in my life, so if we’re irl friends, be prepared. This book is comprehensive, yet accessible. I learned SO MUCH (nonconcordance, stress cycles, and the way arousal & desire actually work!?) and it made me realize how little we teach folks about female sexual pleasure & functioning. Needless to say, I grew up to be pretty sex-negative (aside I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book changed my life. So here’s my long review. For the next year, I will be gifting this book to every single woman in my life, so if we’re irl friends, be prepared. This book is comprehensive, yet accessible. I learned SO MUCH (nonconcordance, stress cycles, and the way arousal & desire actually work!?) and it made me realize how little we teach folks about female sexual pleasure & functioning. Needless to say, I grew up to be pretty sex-negative (aside from the overall sex negative culture we live in, I was raised in a conservative catholic household). I’ve never felt comfortable talking to friends about sex or my anatomy and have always felt fear & shame in response to those two topics, but this book truly opened up my world. (I’m not kidding, it’s a huge deal that I even feel comfortable sharing with you all that I read a book about sex!!) Emily Nagoski did a great job in this book of breaking down complex biological/physiological/psychological concepts in a way that was easy to understand and fun to read. She also takes a relatively intersectional approach to the topic, not discounting the effects of race, class, and ability in regards to sex. It also isn’t heteronormative, but she does stick to the science about cisgender folks because there simply isn’t enough research about trans & non-binary folks (though Nagoski suspects their sexual functioning works much the same way). This book serves the purpose of helping you understand your likes & dislikes, open your world to maximize your sexual pleasure, and realize YOU ARE NORMAL!!! If you have a vagina, read this book! If you love someone with a vagina, read this book! Honestly, I wish everyone would just read this book!!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I loved this book. Nagoski's writing is engaging but firmly grounded in the literature, like being on the second bottle of wine with a friend who's also an academic. She debunks common myths about "how sexuality works" and presents some alternative models -- the accelerator/brake model for arousal, the idea that sex is not a drive, a thought-provoking definition of what an orgasm is, and on and on and on. This is some of the most educational lunchtime reading I've ever done at work! :D I loved this book. Nagoski's writing is engaging but firmly grounded in the literature, like being on the second bottle of wine with a friend who's also an academic. She debunks common myths about "how sexuality works" and presents some alternative models -- the accelerator/brake model for arousal, the idea that sex is not a drive, a thought-provoking definition of what an orgasm is, and on and on and on. This is some of the most educational lunchtime reading I've ever done at work! :D

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily Joyce

    I can't recommend this book strongly enough, not just for women but for anyone who feels let down by mainstream ideals of what sex "should" be. Blending sex science with emotional wellness, Emily Nagoski empowers readers to understand their bodies and to set their sexual experiences to their own internal compasses. Along with What You Really Really Want and The Ethical Slut, I would put Come As You Are on my short list of books everyone who is dating and boning should read. I can't recommend this book strongly enough, not just for women but for anyone who feels let down by mainstream ideals of what sex "should" be. Blending sex science with emotional wellness, Emily Nagoski empowers readers to understand their bodies and to set their sexual experiences to their own internal compasses. Along with What You Really Really Want and The Ethical Slut, I would put Come As You Are on my short list of books everyone who is dating and boning should read.

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