Book Review: Beyond Orgasm

Image description: The book is black with bold red lettering for the title, orange lettering for the subtitle, and white lettering for the author’s name. A small image of a blurred, stylized couple embracing is to the left of the subtitle. The book is leaning against a red fire hydrant with fall leaves on the ground.

“Beyond Orgasm: Dare to be Honest About the Sex You Really Want” by Dr. Marty Klein is one of my favorite sexuality books.

I find this book to be extremely accessible for readers. The formatting is clean and the text is spaced nicely. The smaller trim size also allows for the book to not appear overwhelming at first glance. There are black and white photos at the beginnings of chapters, but they are not distracting.

The premise of the book is not a “how-to” manual or sex guide but rather a call to understand and overcome sexual secrecy. There are no anatomy diagrams, and though the topics are discussed throughout, there are no “token” chapters on communication, affairs, or arousal. The book represents sexuality as a whole, and debunks myths surrounding perfect or “normal” sexuality.

As individuals and a society, we keep sexual secrets all the time, and this really gets in the way of having satisfying sex. Whether it is faking orgasms, faking interest, lying about our pasts, never revealing fantasies, suppressing feelings, or having sex with the lights out, most of us can recount at least a couple sexual secrets of our own.

What I like about the book is that Klein offers a way to explore and understand secrecy so we can genuinely confront these secrets rather than distracting ourselves with other excuses. A whole chapter is dedicated to exploring why we hold sexual secrets in the first place, and another evaluates the high cost of this secrecy in our relationships. The author also points out tools and resources to allow us to share these secrets safely, so we can grow and accept our sexuality.

The author also uses examples from his work as a therapist to realistically illustrate his points. I like that the author uses a variety of case studies—while some people were able to reveal their secrets to their partners, others were not. I think this shows that working through sexual shame and secrecy will not necessarily work out in an ideal way, but is still worthy of our attention and efforts. Most of the examples who were not able to reveal their secrets were still able to accept parts of themselves and move on to a healthier way of living.

Since deception can be (well… is) a major part of so many sexual relationships, I also appreciated the chapter on deliberate deception. Sometimes we are not aware of why we deceive ourselves or our partners, but sometimes we are very aware of why we do this. I think this topic gets overlooked in other sexuality books, and was refreshing to read about the complexities.

Overall I highly recommend this book. It is down to earth without being judgmental, honest without being harsh. As a seasoned unlaced librarian I have read many a sex book, yet I learned new things and found new perspective in this book. Still, I would be more than happy to recommend this title if it is the very first sexuality book you are going to read. I highly recommend this book to couples and people with body acceptance struggles.

The book has a happy, permanent home on my bookshelf.

Dr. Klein also writes a helpful and insightful blog on his website, which you can visit here!

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