Come As You Are Book Review

“Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life” is a groundbreaking exploration into the science of female sexuality.

The author, Emily Nagoski, leverages her expertise in sex education to bring readers an engaging, research-backed guide aimed at empowering women and those who care about them to understand and navigate the complexity of women’s sexual experiences.

Nagoski breaks down societal norms, dispelling prevalent myths and misconceptions about female sexuality.

Her approach is holistic and intersectional, taking into account cultural, emotional, and physiological factors that shape female sexual well-being.

Through the book, she provides the tools to understand these factors and the means to achieve better sexual health and well-being.

Nagoski’s work aims not just to provide scientific information but also to promote sexual self-understanding and acceptance, making it an empowering read.

Summary of Key Concepts

Nagoski introduces several key concepts in “Come As You Are,” providing a fresh and scientific understanding of female sexuality.

The Dual Control Model: Nagoski presents the ‘dual control model’ of sexual response, which consists of the ‘sexual excitation system’ (the accelerator) and the ‘sexual inhibition system’ (the brake).

The accelerator responds to sexually relevant information in the environment, while the brake responds to potential threats.

Both systems function simultaneously, and the balance between them varies across individuals.

Sexual Non-Concordance: This is the concept that there can be a mismatch between physical arousal and subjective sexual desire.

Nagoski emphasizes that this is normal and varies greatly among women.

Meta-Emotions: Nagoski introduces the idea of ‘Meta-emotions,’ or feelings about feelings. She explores how these can significantly impact sexual experiences.

The Importance of Context: The book explains that a woman’s sexuality isn’t merely an on/off switch but is heavily influenced by her context—emotional state, relationship status, environment, etc.

Sexual Fluidity: Nagoski addresses the fluidity of female sexual response and desire, arguing that it can change over time and varies greatly from person to person.

These key concepts offer readers a new lens through which to view and understand female sexuality—free of societal pressures and norms, and grounded in individual experiences and self-acceptance.

Analysis of Key Concepts

Nagoski’s key concepts in “Come As You Are” challenge traditional, often problematic, views of female sexuality.

Her ‘Dual Control Model’ reframes sexual responses not as a single drive but as a balance between accelerators and brakes.

This provides a more nuanced understanding that accommodates individual variations in sexual response and makes room for the complex influence of external and internal factors.

The concept of ‘Sexual Non-Concordance’ is revolutionary, challenging societal norms that imply physical responses should always match mental desire.

This clarification can bring comfort to women who might have felt confused or distressed by their body’s responses.

Nagoski’s exploration of ‘Meta-emotions’ provides a fresh perspective on how our feelings about our feelings can impact our sexual experiences.

This helps to underscore the importance of emotional intelligence and self-acceptance in sexual well-being.

The emphasis on the importance of context highlights how our environments and emotional states can significantly influence our sexual responses.

This underscores that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to sexuality.


Nagoski’s book revolves around several interconnected themes:

Sexual Well-Being: The overarching theme of the book, sexual well-being, is explored from various angles—physiological, psychological, and social.

Nagoski emphasizes that sexual well-being goes beyond just the physical aspect; it is intimately tied to our emotional health and societal influences.

Self-Acceptance: A recurring theme throughout the book is the importance of self-acceptance in achieving sexual well-being.

Nagoski encourages readers to embrace their unique sexual responses and desires, challenging societal norms and expectations.

Understanding and Embracing Individual Differences: Nagoski promotes the understanding that there is a wide spectrum of ‘normal’ when it comes to sexuality.

The book reinforces the idea that everyone’s sexual response is different, and these differences should be accepted and celebrated.

Impact of Societal Norms and Expectations: The book addresses how societal messages and cultural norms can negatively impact women’s sexuality, leading to guilt, shame, and misinformation.

Nagoski counters these messages with scientific evidence and promotes a healthier, more inclusive view of female sexuality.

Importance of Comprehensive, Science-Based Sexual Education: The lack of comprehensive sexual education is a significant concern addressed in the book.

Nagoski’s work underscores the need for accurate, in-depth education on sexuality to empower individuals to understand and take control of their sexual health.

Each theme interweaves with the others, creating a comprehensive guide that tackles female sexuality from various angles, promoting an overall message of self-understanding, acceptance, and empowerment.

Writing Style and Structure

Nagoski’s approach in “Come As You Are” is scientific yet accessible, making complex topics of sexuality understandable to a broad readership.

Her language is clear and empathetic, creating an engaging, comfortable atmosphere for readers.

She uses storytelling effectively, sharing anecdotes and case studies that humanize the scientific data, making the information relatable and memorable.

The book’s structure is designed to be reader-friendly, with each chapter introducing a new concept and building on the previous ones.

This allows for an incremental understanding of the complex topic of female sexuality.

Furthermore, each chapter ends with exercises that allow readers to reflect and apply the concepts discussed to their own experiences, reinforcing understanding and promoting self-discovery.

The use of humor throughout the book eases potentially uncomfortable discussions around sexuality, making the reader feel more at ease.

Overall, Nagoski’s writing style and the structure of the book make “Come As You Are” an enlightening, enjoyable, and highly informative read.

Critical Analysis

Emily Nagoski’s “Come As You Are” is a revolutionary work that brings a new, scientific, and positive perspective on female sexuality.

The book’s strengths lie in its extensive research, practical applicability, and its empathetic and affirming approach.

The scientific grounding of the book lends credibility to Nagoski’s assertions.

She effectively debunks many harmful myths and misconceptions around female sexuality, replacing them with evidence-based information.

The book’s applicability is another significant strength.

Through exercises and practical tips, Nagoski encourages readers to apply the concepts learned, promoting self-discovery and better sexual health.

The insights offered are not only relevant to women but also to anyone seeking to understand female sexuality better.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of “Come As You Are” is its potential to empower its readers.

Nagoski’s message is one of acceptance and understanding, helping women to appreciate their unique sexuality, promoting healthier relationships with their bodies, and encouraging more satisfying sexual experiences.

However, some readers might find the emphasis on scientific research and theory somewhat dense.

Furthermore, while the book offers valuable insights into the science of female sexuality, it may not address all the intricacies of individual experiences, as human sexuality is a deeply personal and complex subject.

Despite these potential limitations, “Come As You Are” represents a significant step forward in the public discourse about female sexuality.

Closing Thoughts

“Come As You Are” concludes with a reaffirming and empowering message. Every woman’s sexuality is normal and should be understood and embraced as such.

It’s clear that the book’s aim is to equip readers with a scientifically-backed, comprehensive understanding of female sexuality and to encourage self-acceptance.

Emily Nagoski’s approach of combining hard science with empathy and respect for individual experiences makes this book a significant resource in the field of sexual education.

It invites readers to embark on a journey of self-discovery and understanding that has the potential to transform their sexual well-being and their relationship with their bodies.

By debunking common misconceptions about female sexuality and challenging societal norms, Nagoski paves the way for a healthier and more inclusive dialogue around this complex topic.

Her work could have profound implications for how society understands and discusses female sexuality.


On a scale of 1 to 10, “Come As You Are” would likely score highly, around an 8 or 9.

The book’s extensive research, practical guidance, accessible language, and empowering message make it a highly valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding female sexuality.

However, ratings may vary based on individual experiences and preferences. Some readers may find the scientific and theoretical portions of the book challenging to navigate.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming response from readers suggests that the book’s strengths significantly outweigh any potential drawbacks.

The book’s impact extends beyond the personal.

It challenges societal norms and promotes healthier attitudes toward female sexuality, making it a valuable resource not only for individuals but also for educators, therapists, and anyone seeking to promote healthier and more inclusive dialogues around sexuality.