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5 Books on Our Nightstand Now

We all know that our time to spare for reading is sparse, so why waste your days with books that aren’t going to inform you, uplift you, and help you connect with your amazing body?

Here are five books that are on our nightstands now. Dive in to learn about the mysterious and societally-complicated uterus, the latest insights into managing menopause, and how to get what you really want in terms of sexual pleasure.

Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began

What it's about: If you want to learn everything we do and don't know about how a body can create life, “Womb” (2023) is the book for you. Author Leah Hazard takes on history, science, and cultural prejudices as she demystifies and celebrates this incredible organ.

Hazard discusses everything from yoni steamers to legislation, undiagnosed endometriosis to gender-affirming care, all with an inclusive lens and a captivating voice. She isn’t afraid to dig deep into controversial topics, policies, and procedures, but does so with a personal touch that makes for a sweeping yet intimate reading experience.

Who wrote it: Leah Hazard, a Harvard alum, is currently a practicing NHS midwife in Scotland and the host of the podcast What the Midwife Said. She comes from both a journalistic career and a midwife background, so you get the inside take on all things womb mixed with a keen eye for facts and figures.

What the critics say: According to a glowing review in the New York Times, the book “tracks two equally fascinating trajectories: the development of modern medical practices related to reproductive health and the changing functions of the uterus in the course of a human life.”

Goodreads rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars Where to buy: indiebound.org; $28

Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage

What it's about:Vagina Obscura” (2022) aims to turn the historical narrative of female anatomy — there for the “one and only purpose” of reproduction — on its head. Backed by current science and written in a captivating, approachable way, “Vagina Obscura” makes you wonder how society got this far with such lackluster research on the female anatomy. Despite how much we still don't know about our anatomy, countless awe-inspiring facts are revealed between these covers. Want to inspire some young women scientists? This is the book for that.

Who wrote it: Award-winning science journalist and the digital science editor of Smithsonian magazine, Rachel E. Gross has covered many topics related to female anatomy, including Half the World Has a Clitoris. Why Don’t We Study it? and The Big Idea: Why We Need to Rewrite the History of Female Bodies.

What the critics say: “Vagina Obscura” was shortlisted for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and is a New York Times Editors’ Choice.

Goodreads rating: 4.44 out of 5 stars Where to buy: wwnorton.com; $18

Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure, and an Unfinished Revolution

What it's about: A blend of memoir and social history, “Bad Sex” (2022) takes you through the experiences of author Nona Willis Aronowitz as she questions her life alongside historical and current stories of sexually liberated female protagonists. This book takes a more personal and anecdotal storyline than other titles on this list, but still has significant research weaved in. The result? An informative read laced through with entertaining confessions.

Who wrote it: Nona Willis Aronowitz is an accomplished author, as well as a sex and love columnist for Teen Vogue, where she answers vulnerable questions with honest answers.

What the critics say: If you want to learn about your body and sexuality, but get bored without a storyline, this is the book for you. Aronowitz’s “Bad Sex” is listed as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022, Esquire’s 20 Best Books of the Summer, and named a most anticipated book by Bustle and Nylon.

Goodreads rating: 3.54 out of 5 stars Where to buy: bookshop.org; $26

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Pelvic Intro

Menopause Bootcamp

What it's about: Society often tells us not to talk about women’s sexuality, but menopause has it even worse — it's barely discussed, rarely researched, and left for half our population to wander into it, unguided. With “Menopause Bootcamp,” (2022) Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz walks you through this transition with comprehensive, current information, about changes in libido, metabolism, body image, and more. Plus, she offers many recommendations that don’t necessarily require you to head to a doctor’s office or take more medicine; her approach focuses on changes you can easily make at home, like what food you eat, which exercises you do, and what supplements to consider.

Who wrote it: Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, called Dr. Suzanne by her patients, has been practicing medicine for twenty years and fighting the good fight all that time — she’s heavily involved in empowering women with public education. She's also board-certified in integrative and holistic medicine and has her clinical degree as an Ayurvedic Specialist. Check out our interview with Dr. Suzanne here.

What the critics say: With fearless dedication and a voice of advocacy, Gilberg-Lenz wants women to know that they can and deserve to thrive at every age. Plus, if you are looking to learn even more, she’s been known to host in-person menopause bootcamp retreats.

Goodreads rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars Where to buy: amazon.com; $19

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

What it's about: This one has a permanent spot on our nightstands. Originally published in 2015, and updated in 2021, “Come as You Are” declares that, no matter how your sex life is now, your sexuality is whole and perfect as long as you feel good about it and yourself. Luckily, this book walks you through how to feel better, with science and research that's focused on female sexuality and all the factors that can impact it, for better or for worse. Plus, there’s a workbook, too, that guides you to get to know yourself, gain body confidence, and reach your sexual potential.

Who wrote it: Author Emily Nagoski has an MS in counseling and a PhD in health behavior from Indiana University and has studied at the Kinsey Institute Sexual Health Clinic. She has taught classes on human sexuality, relationships and communication, stress management, and sex education. “Come As You Are” is a New York Times best seller. Check out her TEDTalk on unwanted arousal here or listen to her podcast, Come As You Are, on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

What the critics say: Nagoski dismantles all the body shaming that women have heard and read about for decades with an empowering read that many say should be required for both women and men.

Goodreads rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars Where to buy: simonandschuster.com; $19

Mattie Schuler
Mattie Schuler

Mattie Schuler is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, outdoor adventure and gear, travel, education, and parenting. When she isn’t writing, she's actively looking for dogs to pet, wrangling children in the wilderness (she's also a forest school teacher in Boulder, Colorado), and either tracking snow reports or international flights, depending on the season. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Women's Health, Gear Junkie, and Outside.

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