Anal Health and Safety, Jack Morin, 1988. Although not oriented towards a BDSM readership this is the best available text on general anal play.
The Bottoming Book, A beginners manual emphasizing submissive role play. This book is more oriented toward headspace and the ability to be in a role rather than a how-to of physical play. Pansexual emphasis.
The Compleat Spanker, Lady Green, 1998. Intended as a comprehensive how-to of spanking and simple impact play, the book falls short by overly-emphasizing the basics. The book costs $12, only a few bucks less than more comprehensive how-tos. You get a lot more with the latter.
Learning the Ropes, Race Bannon, 1992. A beginner friendly guide to BDSM: An excellent, compact, introductory text, and ideal gift for the SM novice. Hetero, lesbian, gay emphasis.
Leathersex: A Guide for the Curious Outsider and the Serious Player, Joseph W. Bean, 1994. A guide to intermediate and advanced play, discussing master/slave relationships, Spiritual issues, history of SM movement. Bean runs the Leather Archives and Museum and this book is full of the history of our community. Men’s scene emphasis, but applicable to anyone.
The Lesbian SM Safety Manual, Edited by Pat Califia, 1989, A play manual for women on women, including topics such vaginal and anal penetration, STDs, First Aid, etc., psychological and physical safety.
The Leatherman’s Handbook, Larry Townsend, 1972, This book changed everything. This was the first SM how-to manuals ever published. Before the publishing of this book, the primary way men learned about the scene, to learn how to play was from other men. This book, combined with Drummer magazine and Dungeonmaster magazine paved the way for people to learn about SM without cruising the leather bars and clubs. A gay male-oriented manual, it pre-dated het how-to books by 15 years.
The Leatherman’s Handbook 11, Larry Townsend, 1988. A total rewrite of the original classic, and near exhaustive treatment of how to information about play involving men.
Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual, Miss Abernathy, 1998. A simple, light-hearted look at dominant/submissive play, roles and etiquette. A cute look at the psychological side of relationships, this book doesn’t discuss nuts-and-bolts play like SM 101 or Screw the Roses.
On the Safe Edge – A Manual for SM Play, Trevor Jacques, 1992. A sophisticated and comprehensive guide to beginning and advanced BDSM play better than most for its constant emphasis on issues of play safety. Covers coming out, anatomy, technical info, mind and body play, most comprehensive treatment of play safety in print, First Aid, and Scene Etiquette, suggestions for further reading.
One in the Bush, The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting, Greenery Press, 1998. Everything you could ever want to know about fisting with women.
Screw the Roses , Send me the Thorns – The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism, Philip Miller and Molly Devon, 1995. An excellent and lavishly illustrated introduction to SM play, as close to a coffeetable book as the field has yet produced. General topics as well as in depth treatment of Bondage, Flogging, and Dungeon design, as well as Appendices on groups, and online Bulletin boards. This is perhaps the best how-to book for the het scene. It is about to enter into a second publishing run. Emphasis on male top, female sub.
Sir, More Sir!, Master Jackson, 1992. A recent practical overview with a how-to emphasis. Men’s Scene.
The Sexually Dominant Woman: A Workbook for Nervous Beginners, Lady Green, 1992, A playful introduction to practical female domination of men or females.
SM: Sensuous Magic, Pat Califia, 1994. A play manual for mixed, lesbian or gay couples. This book is pansexual in that it shows how much more important role is than gender. Califia mixes how-to with some hot short stories and dissects how to do what’s in the stories. This book came out about the time leatherfolk began to focus as much on role as on gender.
SM 101, A Realistic Introduction, Jay Wiseman, 1992. This book is a true underground classic, as Wiseman “published” it at a San Francisco Kinko’s. Patrons would go to Kinko’s, buy the copied, waffle-bound “book” and the folks at Kinko’s would call Wiseman and tell him to come copy more. It made it into more conventional print in 1992. The book mixes Wiseman’s story of his entre into the leather community with some how-to. As Wiseman is a trained emergency medical technician and has worked in hospitals, the book emphasizes safety — so much so that some experienced players feel that the book overdoes the safety angle.
TRUST: The Handbook, A guide to the sensual and spiritual art of handballing, Bert Herman, 1991. A technical guide to fisting. Includes technique, health and safety, concepts of tantric sexuality.
Coming to Power, Edited by Pat Califia, with essays from members of Samois, 1981, The original lesbian BDSM manifesto, written by the members of one of the first women’s SM groups. Contains erotica, poetry, technical know-how, coming out stories, history of the women’s leather movement, health and safety, political history, biological and spiritual theory etc.
Different Loving, Gloria G. Brane, William D. Brame, John Jacobs, 1992. A sociological overview of the contemporary scene, consisting of “interviews” of a wide variety of contemporary scene players. Many consider
it a good jumping off point to more serious discussion of the issues it presents.
Erotic Power, An exploration of dominance and submission, Gini Graham Scott, 1991, A study of BDSM relationships emphasizing female dominance over men. Scott doesn’t like us.
Leathermen Speak Out, Am Anthology on Leathersex, Edited by Jack Ricardo, 1992. Results of a statistical survey done on leathermen.
Leatherfolk, Edited by Bob Thompson, 1993. Essays on BDSM, emphasizing history, theory and practice. This and Coming to Power are must-reads to understand where we come from. The six chapters on SM history are
excellent at explaining and investigating relationships between the gay and het communities. Slight emphasis on the men’s scene.
Modern Primitives, Am Investigation of Contemporary Ritual and Adornment, RE/SEARCH #12, 1989. An extraordinary survey of tattooing, piercing, scarification, and bodyplay, lavish photographs, thought provoking text.
Nothing Personal, Donald McRae, 1993. A survey of the professional scene in Britain.
Public Sex, Pat Califia, 1994. A selection of essays on radical sexuality select from ten years of Ms. Califia’s column from the Advocate.
Some Women, Edited by Laura Antoniou, 1994. An excellent selection of essays by women but not limited to women’s issues, including BDSM & Feminism, the professional life, SM and abuse, SM in the arena of
political ideas. Many of the essays deal with edge-play and edge relationships.
The Ties That Bind, Guy Baldwin, 1994. A selection of essays on the gay SM lifestyle, from Mr. Baldwin’s column for Drummer.
Urban Aboriginals – A Celebration of Leathersexuality, Geoff Mains, 1984. Essays on SM, emphasizing history, theory and practice. Emphasis on Men’s scene.
Whips and Kisses, Mistress Jacqueline, 1984. A first hand account of the life and career of a professional dominatrix.
The Story of O, Pauline Reage, written in 1954, published in France in 1958 and translated into English in 1965 by Grove Press, the SM novel that gave birth to all the rest. Much current scene terminology, practice and ritual
stems from this grounbreaking novel. While published in France in 1958, federal law prohibited its sale in the U.S. It was serialized in the U.S. before Grove printed it as a novel.
9 1/2 Weeks, Elizabeth McNeill, 1978, Shocking and hot. Much better than the film. No longer in print.
The Beauty Series (The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty – Beauty’s Punishment, Beauty’s Release), Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure, 1982-1984. This was th first SM fiction written by a mainstream author. The
pen name became public knowledge between the publishing of the second and third installments. BDSM fantasy.
Exit to Eden, Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling, 1982, BDSM fantasy. The basis for the 1994 film. Again, the book is better.
A Man with a Maid, Anonymous. A Victorian BDSM Classic emphasizing male dominance over female submissives.
Macho Sluts, Pat Califia, 1986. A collection of very hot lesbian BDSM short stories from one of the great writers of lesbian SM.
Meeting the Master, Elissa Wald, 1997. A collection of role-oriented stories by New York writer Elissa Wald. Many of the stories are fascinating looks at power-play focused relationships, both in the consensual realm and in the self-discovery realm.
Justine, Juliette, 120 Days of Sodom, The Marquis de Sade. The 18th Century writer whose writing gave sadism its name. Savage, nonconsensual, sexual violence. A decidedly acquired taste.
Venus in Furs, Sacher Von Masoch. The namesake of masochism. A classic tale of a male submissive and his cruel dominant mistress, written by a submissive who almost certainly lived what he wrote.
Mr. Benson (and many other novels), John Preston. Preston is the premier author of gay SM fiction, and Mr. Benson is his most famous work.
Leathwomen I, Leatherwomen II, By Her Subdued, Edited by Laura Antoniou, 1992-94. Three excellent anthologies of short stories by women, about women though by no means limited to women.
The Slave, The Marketplace, Sara Adamson 1993,1994. Contemporary SM novels, elegant and hot. The books take real life and real life play and then extend it to an extreme. Here as in some of Califia’s works gender matters less than role.
Circlet Press Publications (Sex Magic, Telepaths don’t need Safewords, Queer desires, many others) BDSM with a fantasy-science fiction emphasis.