Top Book Recommendations for Doms and Subs
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In a previous post, we shared our top book recommendations for all kinksters regardless of your role. You can read that here: Top 5 Book Recommendations for All Kinksters.
Now we’re back with a breakdown of books written specifically for Doms/tops and submissives/bottoms. You’ll quickly notice that there are more books listed for subs and bottoms than Doms and tops. There are plenty of books available to read for Dominants but we’re only discussing those we’ve actually read and recommend.
Book Recommendations for Dominants and Tops
John Brownstone entered the lifestyle more than 20 years ago. He found two books in the early years that helped him. The rest of his knowledge comes from experience, in-person classes, conversations with people in the BDSM community, and information he’s read online. Are there more books than this? Absolutely! (And we’re happy to take recommendations down in the comments because there’s always something more to read and learn.)
The Loving Dominant by John Warren is a top recommendation from both of us, and yes, both of us have read it. Which means, yes, submissives can read books written for Dominants. This book is imperfect — the language in the version I read was a bit outdated — but the information is solid. If you don’t want to be a cruel, cold, unfeeling bastard as a Dominant, The Loving Dominant may resonate with you. Warren discusses the more loving, caring, nurturing side of dominance — the softer side.
And yes, you can play with being a heartless bastard during a scene or in specific moments and move into the loving, more nurturing side of things in other times. And when we say “nurturing” that doesn’t always mean Caregiver/little roles. The Loving Dominant is for anyone who feels like the stereotype of the harsher side of dominance isn’t for them.
The New Topping Book
The New Topping Book by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton is a great resource for both Dominants and tops. It’s not a step-by-step how-to book, but more like a guide. The authors walk you through some of the responsibilities, expectations, pitfalls, problems, safety measures, and more required to be a safe, responsible Dom/top that others want to play with or get involved with. We read it for the 2021 Kinky Book Club and discussed the book in detail in a video. Watch it here.
“With great power comes great responsibility” as the saying goes, and Hardy and Easton don’t hold back on what both of those mean. They share tips on how to help a nervous or shy submissive talk to you. They discuss what to do when things go wrong in a scene — and how to (hopefully) prevent something going wrong in the first place. There’s so much good information packed into this book that you may come back to it multiple times as you navigate new kink situations and partners.
Book Recommendations for Submissives and Bottoms
I tend to take in information, learn new things, and discover new concepts by reading. It’s my preferred method to learn anything that’s going to require my mental energy and a lot of introspection. (For everything else, I tend to watch YouTube videos, lol.) While these clearly aren’t the only books available to help submissives or bottoms, these are in my collection and I think can be helpful to others.
Note: Some books are written specifically for submissives while others are for bottoms (who aren’t always submissive).
You knew this was coming, right? The New Bottoming Book by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton is the companion to The New Topping Book. Frankly, I think kinksters should read both because it gives you a fuller picture of power exchange (as a relationship or within a kink scene). In this book, the authors help guide submissives and bottoms so that you can get what you want, stay safe, and take care of yourself — for your partner AND for you. This was on the 2021 Kinky Book Club list, too, and we talked about the book in a video. Watch it here.
My only complaint about this book was that it didn’t touch on community leadership the same way The New Topping Book did. But for the practicalities of how to share your desires, what to do when things go wrong, how to protect yourself, and how to navigate negotiations and relationships, this is an excellent resource.
How to Be a Happy and Healthy Submissive
If you’re looking for an easy-to-read, simple explanation of submission (from a submissive’s perspective), check out How to Be a Happy and Healthy Submissive by Kate Kinsey. I read it years ago, and while I didn’t learn anything new, I think it’s a great first start for anyone who’s ever asked themselves, “How do I become submissive?”
I would consider this a resource for the absolute beginner. It covers what BDSM is — including how it’s not a mental illness. You’ll also get information on how to negotiate a scene, how to find community, what to expect if you go to a dungeon, why some submissives enjoy pain, and more.
Submissive Reflection isn’t a standard book to simply educate yourself. This is a workbook designed to help you get in touch with your submissive self. For newbies, this helps you figure out who you are, what you want, and how to start your submissive journey. For long-time submissives, this may help you reignite your passion for submission or get back into the game after a hiatus.
In this workbook, you’ll consider positive affirmations, why selfish isn’t always a negative, the importance of self-care, and what kind of service appeals most to you, among many other topics. There are coloring sheets, questions to answer, and goal-setting worksheets. Instead of reading the theory of submission, you’ll have to actively work through your thoughts and feelings.
The writing is a bit gendered with references to submissives who are women, but I think the content is solid for anyone of any gender.
Somatics for Rope Bottoms
Can you be a rope bottom and not be a submissive? Of course you can! I can also report that you can not be into bondage (like me!) and still learn something from Somatics for Rope Bottoms by Natasha Nawataneko. This book takes you on a journey of how to be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and your body while experiencing bondage as a bottom. The reminder to breathe, to surrender, to allow yourself to experience the emotions that come up all resonated for me — as someone into impact play. You’ll also find practical tips on rope bottoming like consent and risk assessment.
If you’re curious about exploring rope as a bottom, this is a book you need to read. And if you once felt very connected to your rope bottom side but no longer do, this may be what you need to find your love of it again.
Buy it on Amazon (available in paperback and ebook)
Another book by Luna Carruthers, Pain Play for Everyone is a quick, easy read for anyone interested in playing with pain. Again, you can be a masochist and not be a submissive. And technically, this is a book for both partners to read. Understanding what happens to your partner when you dish out the pain is extremely important.
If all you’ve ever known is that you like pain but you don’t know why or how it works within the body, this may be a fascinating read. The book discusses the hormones that make pain feel good, how the body responds to pain, and techniques for processing pain. My favorite part feels obvious once you read it — the reminder that pain is more than the simplistic options we usually use (especially in impact play): sting vs. thud. In fact, pain provides so many other sensations — and there’s a list in the book to provide examples!
Now, over to you. What books for Doms/tops and submissives/bottoms have you read and loved? Share in the comments below!