When you’re a brand new BDSM submissive, it can be hard to find information to answer the many questions in your mind. To help you, I’ve gathered seven of the best books to help get you started on your exploration of BDSM and the submissive role. These books offer a range of opinions and viewpoints on topics that are important to develop for your personal journey into BDSM and the power exchange dynamic.

I recommend the following book list as a starting point for every novice submissive. I will provide links to Amazon if you are interested in buying the books. Submissive Guide is an Amazon affiliate, so part of your purchase supports this site and my efforts to continue to bring you quality BDSM education.

How To Strategically Choose What To Read

There is always a gap between where you are and where you want to be, and learning about kink and power exchange is no different. The last thing you want is to lose yourself in the ever-growing library of books, videos, and resources, all promising to make you better and “unlock your full potential.” To narrow down the list of books that will get you to where you want to be, we have to look at titles with a critical eye.

Before you even open your browser and start typing “best books to read about BDSM,” let’s talk about what makes a good resource because not every book will provide you with what you need to know. Others are fantastic examples of how not to do BDSM safely or build such a fantasy that it’s impossible to implement into your own life.

You can find resources on BDSM in any bookstore or online digital marketplace that sells books. Many are even audiobooks! But again, I don’t want you to just type “BDSM books” into the search bar. That’s haphazard and could lead you down the trail of subpar books, and we don’t want to start there. It can be fun to add a few as we build our knowledge base, but I want you to start with the valuable stuff. We want highly recommended titles by authors with experience in what they are teaching us, right? Search for lists such as this one by people you trust that can point you to respected authors with more than a few years of experience under their belt.

First, what is it that you want to learn? Are you looking for general information or something on a specific topic? Immerse yourself in deep-thinking mode to determine what you want to learn next. For instance, BDSM authors may write things like getting started in BDSM for brand-new explorers, how to do rope bondage, building power exchange relationships, enhancing your power exchange relationship with rituals and protocol, etc.

Consider what you want and need to learn. While learning isn’t a straight road, we want to progress and not go off on paths we aren’t ready for or lead us in the wrong direction. Once you grasp what you’re looking for, scan through the recommended lists of BDSM resources from trusted sources. Start with the list I provide below. Ask yourself a few critical things about each title and what is said about them.

  • Will this book answer my questions?
  • Is the author well-respected in BDSM? What do I know about them? What can I learn about the author through a simple Google search?
  • Check the publishing date. Is the information up-to-date or older? Does the information need to be up-to-date, or is older content fine?
  • What do the reviews on the book say? Does it have a good rating on Amazon or Goodreads?

You do diligent research. After all, you don’t want to read a book from someone writing about BDSM without being an active participant. And, of course, by saying the best books, I don’t mean the best-selling. I mean the best based on what you want to learn.

With all that in mind, here’s my list.

Seven Books I Recommend for Novice Submissives

How to Be Kinky: A Beginner's Guide to BDSM

By Morpheous

Are you looking for a fun and exciting introduction to BDSM? Try How to Be Kinky: A Beginner's Guide to BDSM by Morpheous.

Morpheous writes conversationally as if you are having a cup of coffee with the author. It's a well-organized, practical approach broken up into nine chapters, from your first look, exploring play with your partner, entering the community, and even the shift from online to real-time. Each topic is readable independently, and you can go through the book in any order, skipping from topic to topic or reading it straight through.

Every bit of real estate is used with purpose. The body is filled with guest commentary and photos; the sidebars are lined with glossary terms and quick tips. This book is filled with beautiful, tasteful images to help you see what your mind has been fantasizing about. Some images give step-by-step on basic forms of play, and others invite thoughts.

This is an excellent first book if you are just learning about your desires.

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Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission

by William Brahme, Gloria Brahme, and Jon Jacobs

Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by Gloria Brahme, William Brahme, and Jon Jacobs is yet another book recommended for the BDSM beginner, but not one that I would recommend as a first book. The reading is more academic in format with profiles and extensive interviews, and it may not be as friendly to read as some others in this recommended reading list. It is a fantastic resource for those wanting to know what people within the scene really think about different activities and aspects of BDSM.

When you flip through the book, the first thing you may notice is that unlike other beginning BDSM books, there are no pictures. This is an educational view on D/s, pure and simple. It is broken into seven sections to focus on different aspects of BDSM, such as the relationship, sadomasochism, body modification, gender lines, fetishism, and watersports.

The history of the activities is researched to find a beginning point for human desire and sexual curiosity. I especially appreciate the beginning chapters on the history of D/s and BDSM from Victorian roots. The authors describe each activity's methods, psychological bases, and history as you learn from several hundred interviews throughout the book that you are not alone in your explorations. You get to know real people and learn BDSM away from the fantasy of it.

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Leading and Supportive Love: The Truth About Dominant and Submissive Relationships

by Chris Lyon

The truth about Dominant and submissive relationships isn't that we are an alternative lifestyle within the BDSM arena; we are a strong and supportive relationship type that goes beyond and sometimes without the kink. Chris Lyon has written a fantastic book that describes and details the two roles of a leading and supportive relationship without all the kink, discipline, and fetish mumbo jumbo that tends to muddy our understanding when we get involved in BDSM.

First and foremost, this book is about couples that agree and migrate towards a relationship where one person leads and the other supports. It is the basis of any strong D/s relationship. It does what every BDSM relationship book should do; lay down the essential parts of each person in the relationship and why leading and supportive relationships work.

So, read this book. I can't recommend it enough.

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Conquer Me: girl-to-girl wisdom about fulfilling your submissive desires

by Kacie Cunningham

Most books for submissives are only about topics like needs, wants, communication, negotiation, and so forth. Conquer me: girl-to-girl wisdom about fulfilling your submissive desires by Kacie Cunningham is a book written by one submissive with advice and personal viewpoints on fulfilling your submissive desires. Her witty stories and first-hand experiences help you see that submission is a worthwhile study of interpersonal relationships.

She talks about topping from the bottom, discipline, how power exchange works, and so many other fantastic topics. I found myself nodding along with many of her views, so if you like what I have to say here on Submissive Guide, you will likely appreciate and enjoy Kacie's book.

By far, this is one of the better books on submission I've read in recent memory. I strongly urge you to get a copy of your own!

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Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities

by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams

Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams is the quintessential guide for novices and seasoned players ready to enter the BDSM community. No other book like this exists, so it's a great addition to your kink library. It's an excellent guide for people wishing to leave their homes and meet the community. So much of what we already know about munches and conventions is through first-hand accounts. None of it lays down common sense guidelines that a newcomer could use. It helps you learn how to interact with the people in the community - something many people could learn.

While other books focus on tying knots or throwing a flogger, this book helps you navigate munches, play parties, and other sex communities. If you have ever wondered what a munch was like, how to prepare for a play party, or get back to everyday life after a kink event, Mollena and Lee do an excellent job detailing the how-tos in a personable, fun, and conversational way.

This is the only book that tells it like it is regarding person-to-person interaction in the BDSM community. It is one of my top picks for newbies who are ready to take the plunge and meet some people, experience social interaction, and more. You will want to take advantage of this book.

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Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism

by Philip Miller and Molly Devon

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism enthusiastically covers all the basics and even some of the not-so-basics--bondage, negotiation, sex, endorphins, dominance and submission, toys, safety, S/M community, and beyond. It's written primarily from the point of view of male-dominant/female-submissive interactions, but it's easily translatable into valuable advice for any relationship configuration. Miller and Devon's explanations of sadomasochism are honest, sexy, funny--and a must-have for anyone who wants to learn about sadism, masochism, dominance, submission, or bondage.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to teaching safe basic techniques. You can pick up information on bondage and other forms of play with detailed explanations. There are also a few chapters on flogging and impact play for those looking to dive right into the fun stuff. This area is not only good for the novice, but an experienced player could pick up a few tips and tricks. This is a book that should be in every BDSM library.

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The New Bottoming Book

by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy is a great beginner's guide to bottoming. According to the authors, this "new version" contains much of the original advice, like "connecting" and negotiation, but also has new and much-needed information.

The book is divided into two parts. The first one is about skills. These chapters help you decide who you are as a bottom, what checklists are, and how to make one, bridging the gap between fantasy and reality and finding a Top that will give you what you need and want.

The second part describes different "scenes," their 'rewards' and tips on beginning and ending them. It has small segments on dressing, public play, sensation play, and other thoughts regarding actual scenes. Also included are sections on role play, with short subsections about bondage and submission.

I highly recommend this book to the novice. It can help shed the nervousness and dispel the fantasy of play.

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It’s time to build your BDSM library! You now have seven books I recommend for novice submissives. Even if these titles don’t interest you, exploring books with a more critical eye will help you find the books that will answer your questions, move you further in your journey, or capture your interests.

Do you want more recommendations? Check out our book reviews and other book lists!