Sapiosexual delights: The Coco de Mer Summer reading list

With escapades and escapism firmly on the brain in the heat of the summer months, allow us to assist with a few diversions to entertain and entice.

As you may have discovered in our Sensory evocations piece, the mind has the ability to create an insatiable level of arousal, evoking an array of benefits in foreplay.

Allow your mind to wander and feel all kinds of inspirations, with a few of our favourite literary delights for the months ahead…


Katie Chopin - The Awakening

A woman is trapped in an unfulfilling marriage, finds appreciation and satisfaction elsewhere. Hardly taboo, but to write honestly about it in 1899? Scandalous doesn’t quite cover it. And to be as relevant today? To put female pleasure at the forefront of a narrative in 1899? That takes penmanship of an iconic level. 

Edna Pontellier, the main character of the story, journeys through marriage and parenthood, defying the constraints of married and domestic life, fighting for moral and erotic freedom with the most heart-wrenching impact. The way this story is told shocked readers at the time by being so honest and authentic to the subject of female infidelity, and female pleasure, and really does resonate so much to this day. 

Chopin’s artistry makes this real, sympathetic and poetic in such a moving way, and empowers the reader to consider so much more than the societal expectations, even then. This book tarnished Chopin’s living career to no end. But more than a century after her death, it is largely considered her greatest literary achievement. 

This is a book that is incredibly dear to Coco de Mer. In 2021 we launched our #RevealYourPleasure campaign, created to remove censorship of female pleasure and shine a light on the power of female sensuality and sensual self-expression. Seen as a landmark piece of early feminist writing, condemned for being too explicit and removed from library shelves, it was the perfect book to share with influencers to provoke and engage people in harnessing the power of female pleasure. 

If you like to escape to bygone days, but relish in the fire of those early days of feminist empowerment blended with erotic delights, look no further than this classic.


The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty First Century -  Amia Srinivasan

Trust a philosopher to make you think about the pitfalls and politics of sex. But in her wondrously humane way, Amia Srinivasan does just that and brings us all into the conversation.

How should we approach sex? How should it be discussed? Sex is a thing we have and also an act we do; a theoretically private act loaded with public meaning; a personal preference shaped by outside thoughts; where pleasure and ethics can be worlds apart, especially with the aftermath of #MeToo in the mix...

This book is such a think piece, carefully transforming many of society’s most urgent political situations and considers a truly liberated experience, entirely. 

Looking for a mindful provocation? Look no further.

The Island of Missing Trees - Elif Shafak

They say never judge a book by its cover, but we admit it was a factor and it was more than worthwhile. Considered by many as Elif Shafak’s best work yet, this is a literary feast we devoured.

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, both call the same place home. Set against an idyllic backdrop of  the most luscious ingredients, sapiosexuals feast on a forbidden love affair in bloom. As fate would have it, war breaks out, homes are destroyed and the teenagers vanish. But a return and a family legacy peel back these deep rooted layers.

This is an incredibly delicate and unbelievably moving love story, that gently broaches generations of heritage, division and transcendence.  The colour and energy is on every page of this rich, magical book, delving into the emotional battles between belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal. 

My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies by Nancy Friday

Brace yourself; it is a reading list by Coco de Mer, after all…

When this book first appeared in 1973, it created something of a perfect storm between complete outrage and exhilarating liberation. Outspoken, graphic, and taboo-shattering unlike any book that had come before, My Secret Garden quickly became the classic study of female sexuality. 

Today, millions consider this something of a cornerstone of feminist literature - a liberating force that adds a sensational new dimension to their sexual fantasies and lives. Crudely written in places and shockingly taboo in others, it delights throughout, delving into some incredibly dark dreams that will make white cotton nightdresses blush… Enjoy.

Everything’s Fine - Cecilia Rabess

This is made for the finest work escapism - set off even further by a sun lounger, baking heat and hours of page turning. 

This jarring workplace friendship plays a brilliant backdrop for this hilarious piece, building with insatiable tension into an electrifying romance that shocks both characters and (spoiler) thrills the reader. The cultural and political surroundings merely add to the complexity of this situation that will have you gripped and not just longing to know if they will, but also, if they should


Sex Drive - Stephanie Theobald

Another cover to be seduced by - please note the review from the wonder that is Emma Thompson as well, in case you need further encouragement - this is a phenomenal memoir that is an ode to desire and pleasure. Think of this as a holistic blend of sexuality and spirituality, eighteenth-century porn and enlightenment philosophy. Alongside that, you have a middle-aged woman on a quest to rediscover her orgasm on a road trip across America, meeting all kinds of fascinating people and pleasure, all in the quest for female pleasure. 

Let the fun begin…

Untamed - Glennon Doyle

Here. She. Is. 

The book Adele has credited for reigniting her fire post-divorce, and for that we are indebted to Ms Doyle. This is one for digging deep, rallying yourself together and waving the flag for your most powerful self - your natural self.

Soulful and galvanising in equal measure, this feminist masterpiece is the story of a woman learning and sharing her way to becoming the best example of herself, through the hardest lessons. Divorce, blended families, self awareness, and self acceptance, they can all be as fundamental a reckoning as each other.

Doyle’s desire? “That we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.”

This is a must have for an empowered bookshelf. Trust us now, thank us later.

Everyone’s Invited: Soma Sara

'Read this and learn – this is what a force for good looks like' - Jess Phillips MP

We are all a part of a culture that is broken, in every single strand of life that we take in – and nobody benefits from it.

 The system we live in was founded on inequality and a drastic imbalance of power. Things have improved, thankfully, but there are moments when the glass ceiling above many women feels like lead, institutional prejudices still remain and alongside this, the exposing nature of social media has highlighted truths long hidden or denied. Soma Sara’s moving collection of essays covers subjects from porn to the patriarchy, drawing us to societal facets that enable inequality to flourish, and somewhat depend on it. It is an endemic problem and is very much a part of us all. But this book argues that we can each do something about this, to create a better society for absolutely everyone.

Prepare to be moved and to really feel part of something of huge potential. The most uplifting and engaging rallying call to be heard in such a long time.

What About Men? Caitlin Moran 

It had to be a phenomenally busy woman to ask the question ‘What About Men?’, didn’t it? 

In an interview with Elizabeth Day on How to Fail (around the one hour mark), Moran explains in such a wonderful way why she wrote this book - as with her other publications, she uses her phenomenal humour to address how integral men are to the quest for equality, and, given that women have the wonder of feminism for women, she considers if it actually is harder for men in today’s society… 

The questions are plentiful and fascinating, covering an array of topics. For a man to discuss their penis and its performance/nature is taboo, but relentless jokes about testicles is like breathing for some - why the difference? What is the impact of porn on men? What impact does the male fashion industry have on a man’s mental health? Can men cry without being told to ‘man up’? What happens if they lose?

This is a thoughtful, sensitive and incredibly funny approach for a provocative conversation. We guarantee you will be compelled to share all sorts of snippets from this, and we heartily encourage you not to bottle up the laughter that will ensue. Long live Caitlin Moran.

Rupi Kaur - Home Body 

If you have yet to discover the wonder that is Rupi Kaur, allow us the honour to introduce you. A truly enigmatic poet and spoken word artist, Rupi Kaur is one of the most exciting performers of this generation, introducing spoken word to new audiences and really speaking to the art of the poetry, evoking so much through her performance.

Milk and Honey was her first book in 2014 and received global acclaim, deservedly - an incredibly vulnerable book, exploring themes of sexual assault and violence with such bravery, sensitivity and an inimitable artistry. Shockingly, it is one of the books now banned in a number of US school districts. The Sun and Her Flowers followed in 2017, a gentle ode to the healing process and a sense of rebirth.

Home Body feels particularly grounded in empowerment -  an incredible collection of a woman embracing herself truly, the peace and joy that come with that self romance and self belonging. Each book feels like a diary, each reassuring and lifting with such a dreamy rhythm, it’s the perfect way to see yourself in a new light and fall in love with yourself in a wonderfully holistic and literal way.

Sit back, unwind, and let these powerful pages take you all kinds of places.

Enjoyed this? Why not try Sensory evocations