The Best BDSM Non-Fiction Books: From Apprentice to Master

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Looking for an education in BDSM?

From instructional manuals on topping and bottoming to guides to building your own dungeon sex furniture, training 101s to handbooks for Doms and subs, there are hundreds of great titles available on the subject of BDSM. Everyone has to start somewhere and many of these have been written by seasoned professionals for newcomers whilst others opt to take a more advanced approach to this lifestyle. Whatever your level, reading up on techniques, skills and etiquette can really enhance and extend the enjoyment and experience of your BDSM play. Not only can they help during sessions but you might just find some interesting information that can help improve your relationships too.

In this feature, we’ve selected some of the best non-fiction books on BDSM that can help you understand the roles, dynamics and technical aspects of this fetish.



BDSM in Non-Fiction

BDSM, in all its forms, can be a complex fetish to practice safely and incorporates many technical and psychological aspects that need to be understood. Newcomers often think that this kink is simply about tying someone up, using a whip or asserting power by being aggressive.

The truth is that practicing BDSM safely and to the satisfaction of all play partners takes study and practice. Without proper preparation and guidance, sessions can be dangerous physically, emotionally and mentally.

best bdsm non fiction books safety training

Image via Wallpaper Flare.

We’ve tried to pick a selection of books that cover all aspects of BDSM from practical guides to personal memoirs. Each individual has different styles of play, limits, standards and ideals so not all of the approaches in these books will suit everyone. However, the principles in most of these books are based on consensual power relationships and safe play.

Have we missed your favorite BDSM non-fiction book? Why not drop us a comment below and share our recommended reads.

Best BDSM Non-Fiction Books (General)

We kick off with a general selection of books covering everything from the psychology of D/s to an introduction to SM. All written by people who have experience in the lifestyle, each book comes highly recommended by other members of the BDSM community.

Sacred Kink

by Lee Harrington

best bdsm non fiction books sacred kink lee harrington

Images via Goodread/Wikipedia.

“Some of us have had a moment in the middle of fun and sexual exploration that lead to connecting with the divine or having an epiphany about life that was far from expected…”

Originally published in 2010, this is one of two books on our list by Lee Harrington. A well-regarded writer on sexuality and spiritualism, Harrington works as an online educator for the Kink Academy and has twice won the National Leather Association’s non-fiction book award (2007 and 2012).

A transgendered man currently based in Denver, Colorado, Harrington was also a popular adult performer with Kink and other premium websites.

Sacred Kink (subtitled, ‘The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond’) is a useful instructional guide which contains some practical tools covering all aspects of the BDSM journey, arranged in easy to follow sections:

  • Negotiation, Communication and Aftercare
  • Catharsis, Top Trances and Exorcising Personal Demons
  • Ordeals, Earning Leathers, and Ending Relationships
  • Energetically Transmitted Diseases and Solo Sex Magic
  • Creating Ritual Play Spaces and Dedicated Tools
  • Developing Rituals for Dominance and Submission
  • Pain Processing and the Dialysis of Desire
  • Erotic Shapeshifting and Possession Workings
  • The Spiritual Calling of Mastery and Slavery
  • Kink and Chemistry Ethics

The book will split camps in the BDSM community with those who will recognize and identify with the ritualistic and spiritual aspect of this fetish and those who don’t.

Presented with great intelligence, Harrington incorporates the history, theory and practices of BDSM and its ability to alter states of consciousness. He does this by addressing physical techniques and psychological approaches, applying them to the modern community.

If you want a road-map on how to harness the epiphanic potential of this fetish then Sacred Kink is definitely the book for you. It’s certainly an enlightening read and an impressive distillation of knowledge on the subject.

SM 101: A Realistic Introduction

by Jay Wiseman

best bdsm non fiction books sm 101 jay wiseman

Images via Amazon/Amazon.

“If you want to read SM nonfiction that has a pulse and passion, that inspires as much as it instructs, SM 101 is the book for you.” – Joseph Bean, Drummer

Another author whose work we have included two examples of on our list, Jay Wiseman is a BDSM educator and an inductee to the Society of Janus’s Hall of Fame. SM 101 is one of the society’s suggested readings on the subject.

Originally published in 1992 and updated in 2000, there are thought to be around 100,000 copies of the title in print and is widely regarded as one of the better basic instructional manuals for newcomers to BDSM.

Arranged in a series of easy-to-read chapters covering everything from spanking and flagellation to roleplay and erotic torment SM 101 is a practical and comprehensive ‘How-To’ guide.

BDSM The Naked Truth

by Dr.Charley Ferrer

best bdsm non fiction books bdsm the naked truth charley ferrer

Images via Amazon/Amazon.

For everyone who’s ever sat in the darkness, stared into the abyss and wondered “Am I normal?”

Published in 2011, Dr. Charley Ferrer is an acclaimed clinical sexologist and became the first Latina Doctor of Human Sexuality in the United States when she received her doctorate in 2000.

She is recognized as being a pioneer in the fields of sexual empowerment and sexual health and has written several books on the fetish of BDSM from anthologies and self-help books to intensive training guides and companion books for writers on the subject.

BDSM The Naked Truth is not a manual on HOW to explore BDSM but is more of a WHY people in the community are drawn to this unique and erotic lifestyle.

Addressing common questions, dispelling myths and enlightening readers on the psychology of kinks, this book covers some fascinating truths and misconceptions, such as:

  • Why are men and women are drawn to S/M, discipline and bondage?
  • Why do submissives yearn to surrender?
  • Why do Dominants nourish the craving?
  • Why does a Master/Mistress thrill at sharing their dominance?

The book has its detractors and critics, many of whom feel that the perspective of the book is shaped by a female on top and is, at times, a bit egoistical.

It’s certainly a good book for beginners and explains many common terms and practices as well as exploring themes of trust, consent and power. With a heavy focus on the why, the book is also good recommended reading for counselors and other professions who encounter players of this lifestyle and wish to understand what it is to participate in the community.

You can find out more about the realities of Dominance and submission according to Dr. Charley Ferrer via her official BDSM The Naked Truth website.

Playing Well With Others

by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams

best bdsm non fiction books playing well with others

Images via Amazon/Wikipedia.

Your field guide to discovering, exploring and navigating the kink, leather and BDSM communities.

Published in 2013, this insightful guidebook is not written for the bedroom culture of the kink community but for all those other social aspects of the lifestyle for which etiquette is often unspoken.

Playing Well With Others, written by Lee Harrington (see ‘Sacred Kink’, above) and Mollena Williams, is packed with useful tips, advice and guidance about how to negotiate the fetish world. From parties and leather bars to fetish nights and conferences, newcomers and even seasoned players can sometimes find the ‘code of conduct’ a little confusing.

The book is really well written and presented in an easy-to-access way that takes you from finding events and partners to how to behave, what to expect and even covering the lingo, psychology and etiquette. There is also a great section which aims to dispel some myths whilst also confirming a few preconceptions.

Williams is an award-winning ‘sexual pervert’ and has been ‘collared’ by the contemporary composer Georg Friedrich Haas since December 2013. She is NYC born and raised and is a regular contributor to mainstream media on the kink community. A fellow BDSM educator, she has been featured in The New York Times, Ebony magazine and Newsweek to name but a few publications.

Together, Harrington and Williams are intelligent and educated experts who write with an informal warmth and sense of fun whilst delivering some important lessons on how to ‘play well with others’. It’s the book that anyone who ‘comes out’ as a kinkster should be handed as a ‘Welcome to BDSM’ guidebook.

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns

by Philip Miller and Molly Devon

best bdsm non fiction books screw the roses send me the thorns

Image via Goodreads.

The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism

Another selection that will probably divide people into two camps, Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns was first published in 1995 and is quite dated in places. Written by a heterosexual couple, there are parts of the book that will probably grate some sensitivities with an implicit stereotype of a Dominant male and submissive female.

However, the book is simply one couple’s experience of BDSM and promotes a light-hearted and fun approach to the kinks of bondage, domination and SM. It’s upbeat and informative and makes for an excellent beginners’ introduction, if a little ‘traditional’ in places.

Covering some technical advice and with a heavy message of safety and consensual play, there are some good suggestions here for how to enjoy the erotic, sensual and intimate aspects of this practice. It is well put together with an easy to access table of contents so you can quickly find information on topics such as:

  • Flogging and Impact Play
  • Endorphins and sub-space
  • Psychological Effects of Play
  • Dungeon Equipment and Tools
  • Etiquette of Power in Relationships
  • How to Find a Partner
  • Exploring Roles

Not for everyone, the illustrations are now way out of date and it’s a shame that the book hasn’t been updated.

Whether you love or hate this book, it has a place in the community and is still a trusted go-to for many experienced players as well as being a recommended read for newcomers.

Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook

by Michael Makai

best bdsm non fiction books michael makai domination and submission warrior submissive

Images via Amazon/Amazon.

People are like M&Ms. They come in a variety of colors, they’re hard on the outside, and full of obscene yumminess on the inside.

A controversial selection, Michael Makai is a lifestyle Dominant and has been practicing for almost four decades. A once active member of dozens of lifestyle organizations across the United States and Europe, Makai is a convicted sex offender and was sent to federal prison in 2016 for charges relating to sending obscene material to a 17-year old girl.

As a result of his felony, his books are widely boycotted by members of the BDSM community for moral reasons. However, Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook (Makai’s first foray into publishing) is still a decent and pretty definitive guide on this fetish culture.

The book is written in an informal and personal (at times gratingly ‘opinionated’) tone that brings a good deal of humor to the subject yet is authoritative and insightful with an in depth look at:

  • Relationship Dynamics
  • Protocols and Safety
  • Finding a Partner
  • Bondage, Toys and Groups

There are even sections on some more diverse aspects of the community including the Gorean sub-culture, religion vs kink and the ways that BDSM play can go wrong.

Makai also wrote the well-regarded winner of the 2015 Golden Flogger Award for Best BDSM Nonfiction Book, The Warrior Princess Submissive. An enlightening thesis on the lesser-known assured, confident and intelligent subs that run against the stereotypical ‘victim’ types often associated in this role.

Two interesting books that will divide readers into opposing camps, they are nevertheless worth reading if only to form your own opinion.

Best BDSM Non Fiction Books (Bondage, Ropes and Knots)

Moving on to some of the more technical aspects of BDSM, we bring you a selection of five books that (quite literally) should show you the ropes. From basic restraints and knots to advanced bondage techniques and building your own furniture, these books are a practical exploration of the mechanics of bondage.

Bondage Basics: Naughty Knots and Risque Restraints You Need to Know

by Lord Morpheus

best bdsm non fiction books bondage basics lord morpheus

Image via Amazon.

Bondage 101: Learn the fundamentals of tying and being tied.

First published in 2015, this book is a perfect entry-level guide to the basics of kink culture and a valuable reference tool for the mechanics of bondage. Containing step-by-step instructions with full color photos, Lord Morpheus takes readers on a journey through the popular culture of BDSM through the basics of rope tying (Eastern and Western styles) through to some more advanced techniques.

Arranged in easy to follow chapters, the book covers:

  • The History of Rope Bondage
  • Communication and Safety
  • The Equipment – Know Your Rope
  • Choosing Your Bondage Partner
  • Basic Knots and Other Rope Building Blocks
  • The Ties
  • Taking It Further

This is one of those books that are destined to become well-thumbed and essential reading material that stays beside the bed (or in the dungeon).

Showing You The Ropes

by ‘Two Knotty Boys’

best bdsm non fiction books showing you the ropes two knotty boys

Image via Amazon.

“This is the book we wished was around when we ourselves first got curious about robe bondage” Two Knotty Boys

Using over 750 full color photographs, this excellent guide to knots and tying is cleverly put together and presents 37 different techniques with easy-to-follow directions.

It’s a fun and educational manual that features some playful scripting that is not only informative but also entertaining. The two authors clearly have experience in rope play and bring a love of aesthetics to this art-form as well as attention to form.

Showing You The Ropes is a unique book that will give even seasoned pros a few things to think about and give newcomers the guidance they need to become proficient at fluid rope-play. Highly inventive, erotic and (above all) fun.

Better Built Bondage

by Douglas Kent

best bdsm non fiction books the better built bondage book

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A Complete Guide to Making Your Own Sex Toys, Furniture and BDSM Equipment

Written for people who have little expert knowledge of DIY skills, this instructional manual for how to make, build and create your own bondage accessories is great for kinksters on a budget.

Though only published in 2009, the book does have a dated feel to it but is still a useful addition to those BDSM lifestylers who want to get creative with their play space. Anyone who has ever shopped for play equipment will know that these items do not come cheap so if you fancy turning your hand to crafting then this could be for you.

The book is arranged in seven chapters, covering:

  • Introduction
  • Materials
  • Techniques
  • Skills
  • Quickies
  • Projects
  • Plans

And within these projects you can find plans for items like floggers and a spanking horse to restraints and a St. Andrew’s Cross. Amateurish in places, the more experienced DIYers will probably modify and improve upon some of these designs but are still pretty useful as a starting point.

With more than 1400 photos and useful illustrations, this is not an essential read but one that will definitely pay you back if you complete a few of the projects.

Shibari: Everything you want to know about Japanese bondage

by Seito Saiki

best bdsm non fiction books shibari guide in pictures

Image via Amazon.

Shibari is considered a serious art form in Japan with practitioners often not being involved in the technique simply for sexual reasons. In fact, the Japanese have a different word for this method of rope-tying when applied to BDSM and kinks; Kinbaku.

That being said, Shibari is still considered by many to be the quintessential form to aspire to when advancing beyond basic bondage.

If you are interested in mastering this beautiful art form then this book will guide you in the various knots, ties and lashing that sets it apart from all other styles of restraint.

Presented for beginners rather than anyone who is already familiar with Shibari, this is a useful starting place for research on techniques.

Jay Wiseman’s Erotic Bondage Handbook

by Jay Wiseman

best bdsm non fiction books jay wisemans erotic bondage handbook

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If you can tie your shoelaces, you can create an erotic masterpiece!

From the author of SM 101 (see above) comes this useful compendium of knots, ties, binds, tethers and other techniques to immobilize your partner.

Wiseman’s tone is humorous and informal but is tempered with a responsible approach to safety and technique. With illustrated guides, the book demonstrates simple methods from hogties to ball ties.

The book is essential reading for anyone who is new to bondage and wants to learn the basic skills of how to tie, or be tied, up safely. It’s clearly been written by someone who knows a thing or two about ropes and is absolutely brimming with experienced insight.

Best BDSM Non-Fiction Books (Dom’s Manuals)

We move on to some more specific BDSM non-fiction books with those manuals and instructional guides aimed at Masters, Mistresses, Doms and Tops. From those that start with the basics and are aimed at newcomers to the more advanced Dominants, there is something for everyone and are an interesting read whatever role you take or are interested in.

Dom’s Guide To BDSM Vol. 1

by Matthew Larocco

best bdsm non fiction books doms guide to bdsm

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49 Must-Know Tips On How To Be The Perfect Dom/Master Your Submissive Will Truly Respect & Admire (Guide to Healthy BDSM)

Acknowledging the complexity of such a role, Larocco considers many aspects from the technical and emotional challenges to the psychology at play as well as addressing the many myths of power play in BDSM.

The book is the first in a series of seven guides to healthy BDSM with later volumes covering submissives, erotic roleplay and troubleshooting. However, the first book is where it all starts and is where anyone who is new to the role should start.

In this book, Larocco covers the basics including:

  • How to think and behave like a Master
  • Identifying your own motivation and goals
  • What subs expect from their Dom
  • What not to do and what instincts you do NOT want to follow
  • Identifying a subs taboo
  • Negotiating safe and consensual play
  • How to make a sub desire to be controlled

The rest of the series are also worth a read with this one being aimed at novices and gradually becoming more advanced. If you are already practicing as a Master or Dom then you may want to skip ahead but there are many readers who still found a back to basics approach helpful. It will also appeal to subs who are interested in the finding out more on the role of a Master.

The Mistress Manual: A Good Girl’s Guide to Female Dominance

by Mistress Lorelei

best bdsm non fiction books the mistress manual

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An essential purchase for any woman who wants to get the maximum pleasure out of dominating her man. Forum

Written by a dominant woman with several decades of training and feminizing submissive men, this manual is an informative journey of how to become a good Mistress.

The book is arranged in three parts; becoming a Mistress, the Mistress in Action and the Five Archetypal Fantasies. Each part takes you through some essential skills and techniques to inhabiting the personality of a dominant female.

From finding the right partner and balancing reality to fantasy in a relationship and dealing with issues of dominance, the first part addresses the whys and hows of being a Mistress.

Part  two is all about establishing your authority, asserting your dominance and the art of discipline and covers some key forms of control which includes bondage, male chastity and humiliation.

The final part of the manual details the five principle fantasies that are at the heart of most female dominant fantasies:

  • The Nursemaid
  • The Governess
  • The Queen
  • The Amazon
  • The Goddess

The Mistress Manual will appeal to those at the beginning of their journey rather than for any seasoned femdoms or those already in a female-led BDSM relationship.

The (New)Topping Book

by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

best bdsm non fiction books the topping book

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“We love tops. We love tops who are vicious and nasty and turn their bottoms into cringing moulds of adoring submission. We love tops who are nurturing and sweet whilst they inflict the most amazing agonies.”

First published in 1994 along with its companion guide (The Bottoming Book) The Topping Book has become something of a classic.

Updated in 2003, the two writers are both BDSM and sex educators, collaborating on several projects over the last few decades. A member of the first board of directors of the Society of Janus in 1974, Easton is a proponent of polyamory and a regular keynote speaker at conferences, workshops and seminars. Hardy also writes under the pen name ‘Lady Green’ and has published several other useful books including Kinky Crafts: 1010 Do It Yourself S/M Toys, The Compleat Spanker and The Sexually Dominant Woman: a Workbook for Nervous Beginners.

The Topping Book is not a how-to guide, though does contain practical advice, but more of an exploration into the whys with psychology and philosophy at its heart.

It is considered a great book for newcomers, beginners or those who need to go back to basics with around 90% of the material (estimated) being geared more to entry level practice. However, there are some interesting and insightful sections that even more experienced players will appreciate including Dealing with the Dark and Spiritual Side of BDSM and full time D/s.

Even if you identify as Dominant, the book is well worth reading in conjunction with The Bottoming Book and will certainly enhance your understanding of the relationship with your subs if you do.

The Heart of Dominance: a guide to practicing consensual dominance

by Anton Fulmen

best bdsm non fiction books the heart of dominance

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“If you have an interest in the bedrock principles of inspiring, deepening, maintaining and enjoying control over a person who dearly, desperately wants you to control them, then this book is for you.”

Published in 2016, this book by the kink and sexuality author Anton Fulmen, The Heart of Dominance is an exploration into the power dynamics of D/S and the key principle of consensual exchange.

As well as delving into the psychology of this area, the book offers some practical guidance with advanced concepts and techniques that can help deepen, maintain and enhance your BDSM relationships.

It is an easy read yet with the clear authority and experience of someone who knows what they are talking about. The writing is concise and logical and is considered by many as an invaluable introduction for both Doms and subs. Certainly, those people who are already in relationships who want to explore power exchange or attempt BDSM in their play would benefit from this book. It will allow you to find the right vocabulary and ethical space to discuss, negotiate and agree how this new dynamic will work and offer some great practical advice too.

An officer of the Society of Janus, Fulmen has also written a couple of other interesting books including How to Find Partners on FetLife and The Dominance Playbook.

Best BDSM Non Fiction Books (Slave Guides)

And finally, we have selected a handful of useful guides for submissives, slaves and bottoms.

Dom’s Guide To Submissive Training

by Elizabeth Cramer

best bdsm non fiction books doms guide to submissive training

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“A Dom/sub relationship doesn’t just happen. It is a finely crafted and designed system of expectations and joys.”

Sold as a “Step-by-step Blueprint On How To Train Your New Sub. A Must Read For Any Dom/Master In A BDSM Relationship”, this book is another that may split readers into camps. Viewed as basic by some and highly insightful by others, it is very much written from one person’s perspective of their own relationship(s).

This doesn’t detract from what is an interesting account written by a qualified sex educator and trained psychologist, though the book does lean heavily to a male Dom/female sub, live-in situation.

For those just starting out on their domination journey, this is a good book to start with but it is well worth reading in conjunction with other more widely experienced authors to give a counter-point to this more traditionalist approach to BDSM in a relationship.

Cramer has written several follow up volumes which further explore the training methods she starts describing in this book and which offer more tips, advice and techniques for training submissives.

Maybe don’t take these books as a ‘blueprint’ but more of an initial design concept which you can adapt, extend and customize.

Protocol: The Handbook for the Female Slave

by Robert J. Rubel

best bdsm non fiction books protocols handbook for the female slave

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Protocols have to be designed by each Master for his/her slave. Protocols are what makes a relationship special.

It is worth pointing out to begin with that whilst this book is an interesting and useful read of protocols for a female slave, they are just one set of guidelines written by a dominant man for whom these are his protocols.

As long as the reader understands that (as Rubel himself points out) there are as many was to approach a D/s relationship as there are practicing, then you should find this an invaluable addition to any BDSM reading list.

The point is that establishing a set of protocols, or rules/expectations/standards etc, in a D/s relationship is an important ingredient to the success for both parties. This is what makes Protocol an important handbook and should be used as a framework for creating your agreement.

Use this book as a springboard for negotiations with your partner and to start those all-important discussions on how to design your own perfect manifesto. Do that and you won’t be disappointed that you bought it.

The (New) Bottoming Book

by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

best bdsm non fiction books the bottoming book

Image via Amazon.

This book is a celebration of sensational submissives and marvelous masochists, of the naughtiest schoolboys and the sluttiest slaves, of  those who love to struggle and serve and scream and submit and come and come and come…

And our final read is the companion guide to the already mentioned The Topping Book (see above).

It’s a book that speaks to many varieties of submissives and is a positive celebration of women and men who identify as ‘bottoms’ to show they can be fierce and proud even though they serve dominant play partners.

It covers everything from understanding the psyche of being a sub, how to stay healthy both physically and emotionally and how to stay safe. There’s a useful range of techniques and practical exercises that can help show anyone new to the role the proper (and safe) practices of BDSM.

It’s a classic text for a reason and that’s because it is both informative and entertaining. The authors write with a great deal of warmth and humor whilst providing some great advice and sensible suggestions.

Whether you are a Dom or sub, the two books are well worth reading together to better understand the roles being played.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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