Sex books for people you're not sleeping with

Books make awesome holiday gifts: They can be mailed directly from Amazon et al if you remember someone at the very last minute; they won’t cause weight gain or allergy attacks; they show more thought and insight than a gift certificate; and they’re easy as anything to wrap (ever try gift-wrapping a cactus plant?). We’d like to think that our manual SEX: How to Do Everything makes the perfect gift for everyone, but we know we don’t live in that sort of world. So here are our ten best suggestions for sex-related books to give to those special folks in your life whom you’re not sleeping with.

  1. Our Bodies, Our Junk by the Association for the Betterment of Sex: This book won’t do much to improve your sex life, and your partner might not appreciate the message of receiving a sex manual that makes for ideal bathroom reading. But your roommate/best friend/gym buddy certainly will.

  2. Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust: Not for  your kid’s pre-school teacher or your outstanding female employee…obviously. But for your best female friend since grade school who knows more about your sex life than you do and who is always lamenting the lack of good porn out there? Check. FYI, single and coupled female friends alike will benefit from this book, though the latter gals — particularly if they are on the sensitive side — might not necessarily agree with you. Then again, they’re the ones who need it most.

  3. Sex Degrees of Separation by Irad Eyal: For your celebrity-obsessed friend (preferably one who doesn’t get a headache from complex spreadsheets and flowcharts). Probably acceptable for your kid’s pre-school teacher or your employee, assuming you don’t live/work in the mid-west.

  4. i know i am but what are you? by Samantha Bee: For anyone with a sense of humor, and especially friends who will appreciate the facts that (a) Bee once worked in an erectile dysfunction clinic; (b) she’s an outspoken proponent of pubic hair; (c) she’s 40 and sexy in a totally non-cougarific kind of way.

  5. I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner: For your single female friends who need to be reminded that dating can always get worse (and probably did get worse for Klausner) — but fortunately, the worse the date, the better the story it’ll eventually make.

  6. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert: For your friends who consider themselves “above” the whole Eat Pray Love thing but are secretly curious. This sequel of sorts will give them a taste while allowing them to retain the snob value of telling people, “Oh no, I didn’t read Eat Pray Love — I prefer the more intellectual approach of her follow-up.” It’s a compelling take on marriage and its discontents and actually contains decent marriage advice too.

  7. Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha: For your friends who like to brighten up cocktail parties with fascinating anecdotes about everything from the meaning of monogamy to why certain middle-aged men can’t seem to keep their dicks in their pants.

  8. How to Become a Scandal by Laura Kipnis: For your friends who like to brighten up cocktail parties with highbrow intellectual theories about titillating gossip and celebrity scandal.

  9. Uncovered by Jordan Matter: For your friends who like boobs — especially real women’s boobs — and won’t feel uncomfortable receiving a book of bare-breasted photos from you (possibly a small demographic, we know). The photos have an arty feel and 10% of profits go to breast cancer research, so the receiver can feel good about indulging (it certainly does more than tinting your Facebook profile picture pink to show you “support” breast cancer).

  10. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: For the feminist (or should-be feminist) in your life. Turns out there’s a lot more to Cleopatra than Elizabeth Taylor in heavy eyeliner.