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The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 ratings  ·  215 reviews
What if you weren't sexually attracted to anyone?

A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren't sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.

Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that "everyone" wants sex, that "everyone" understands what it means to be attracted to other
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Carrel Books (first published August 1st 2014)
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Sammy Yes it does, but only briefly. In part 2 each get a short section under the larger banner of Romantic Orientations. A few pages later a section called…moreYes it does, but only briefly. In part 2 each get a short section under the larger banner of Romantic Orientations. A few pages later a section called Grey Areas talks about them again in slightly more detail.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  1,045 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reviewing this book publicly feels kind of awkward, because I know the fact that I've read it is likely to make people ask questions right away. The temptation with something like this is pretty inevitably going to be asking me why I'm interested, to what extent it might align with my own experiences, etc.

To dispose of that in a single paragraph: I have no interest in sex for physical gratification. I do have a partner, and whatever we may do is between the two of us and no one else's business.
Rebecca McNutt
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Invisible Orientation is an important book. While I can see how it's targeted towards asexual people, the audience it's perhaps best for are people who either don't understand asexuality or who are opposed to the idea of it. People often mix it up with misconceptions including that it's a form of celibacy (it's not, celibacy is a choice), that it's just people being prudish (it's not) or that asexual people have some sort of mental disorder. I find this double standard disgusting. In the #Me ...more
Richard Cooper
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone learning about asexuality
Please note that my opinion of this book is biased by the fact that I identify as an asexual.

What I love most about Decker’s book is that many statements in her writing resonate with me and I think that many asexuals who read this will find the same thing. There are too many to talk about in this review so I will just discuss my favorite one about aromantic asexual relationships. “When their friendships are their most precious relationships, they are often dropped or demoted in importance if the
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book and thought "holy crap on a stick, my life would have been so much easier if this had been published several years ago"? Because that's how I feel about this book. Decker does a great job of outlining what asexuality is - and, more importantly, isn't - as well as dispelling a lot of myths and falsehoods about the orientation, advice and reassurances on relationships and coming out and other kinds of attraction, and there's even a section for allies. All around, I think ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
This one was a bit of a harder read for me, I found it a bit repetitive in parts, but sometimes that's exactly what's needed in an introduction book as the author explains asexuality from definitions to discussing with different audiences. Definitely a must read for those interested in learning more about Asexuality, what it means, what terms within the asexual community mean, and most importantly how to start conversations with family and loved ones about this often "invisible" orientation to f ...more
Auntie Terror
3.7 Stars.
It's great that there is a book such as this. It isn't merely interesting for those who wonder themselves whether they might belong somewhere under the "ace umbrella". It also has value, I believe, for those who just want to learn about the subject of asexuality for the first time.
But it really very much is an introduction and becomes repetitive in some parts when you actually treat yourself to the whole thing, not just the passages that might be more addressed to you as someone resear
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a helpful primer on the orientation of asexuality. I especially appreciated Decker's care and breadth in defining terms, including those not specifically limited to the asexuality spectrum. There was a bit of repetition and it did feel like the issue was being treated (if possible) too gingerly. I came away feeling like those who identify as asexual should expect some level of persecution and I think a bit less of the padding for the sake of inclusion could have benefitted the narra ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Asexuality is so rarely discussed, especially in public circles, that it's almost as if it doesn't exist at all. Yet it is very much real, not (as some would have it said) the result of someone's "imagination" or "confusion" or the “inevitable outcome” of a history of sexual abuse.

According to _The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality_ by Julie Sondra Decker, asexuality can be a source of frustration, even contention, for those struggling to make their families and close friends
Stacie C
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, lfbc
This book is an introduction to asexuality as a sexual orientation. It discusses not only what asexuality is but what is isn’t and goes to great lengths to help people understand the validity of asexuality as a sexual orientation and a way for people to identify themselves. So what is asexuality? Asexuality is an orientation describing people who don’t feel sexually attracted to anyone. It's possible to be heterosexual and asexual, homosexual and asexual, queer and asexual, trans and asexual, i ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
A really good, comprehensive introduction to asexuality. A great resource for people on the asexual and aromantic spectrums, and people who have loved ones on the ace/aro spectrums. I powered through this book in two days, and was crying within ten pages from the profound sense of relief and support this book provides. It's written in layman's terms with a ton of external resources, very well-sourced, and easy-to-navigate sections. 1000% worth the money I spent on it!
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an accessible look at asexuality; the writing style is conversational and explains asexuality without getting too jargony or scientific. Additionally, the writer is compassionate to both sides and is able to "talk" to both asexuals and non-asexuals. It's a great read for familiarizing yourself with the definition and challenges--as well as being affirming and compassionate. As a bonus, the author includes a large list of resources at the end!

Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is extremely validating and I wish I'd had it as a teen so I could've saved myself a lot of confusion and stress.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me a lot to NAME my feelings and my orientation.
I am so glad that I could read trough it. In some cases it
was so hard to read, cause it reminded me so much to the things
I went trough:

"But remember: Asexual people who have never heard of their own
orientation are trained since childhood to think sex is an
unavoidable part of all romantic relationships and that no one
will love them withouth it. Asexual people are taught to hide it if they
don't feel what everybody else seems to feel
Note: This review refers to a digital ARC, so it may not accurately reflect the final published copy.

If you've ever wondered why friends without "benefits" are "just friends," read this book. If you're not sure why everyone else makes such a big deal about sex, read this book. Or, if you love sex and don't see how anyone could survive without it, you should read this book, too.

It's not perfect--what is, besides cake?--but it's a good start.

In a 1994 study of nearly 19,000 British people's sexual
Mar 18, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, bought
$1.99 on kindle right now (3.18.16 - US for sure, not sure about other countries)
Leah Markum
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
One star for personal preference and three stars for the asexuals who have had it rough and the historical context.

I also want to quickly mention a footnote on page 5, to which I responded, "Thank you!" because I've found it bizarre that no one else I've come across has applied basic logic to sexuality: if you have heterosexuality as to homosexuality, then you have bi/pansexuality as to asexuality. That's the way I've been putting it, but here's how K. Yoshino, 2000, in "The Epistemic Contract o
Apollo Mul
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I certainly needed this book when I was younger because wow, did I have some questions and concerns. Finding out pretty late in my teens about asexuality was life-changing. This book would have been all the information I ever needed to know and understand what was going on with my body, something that every person should understand about themselves.

It contains information all about asexuality, gray-asexuality, demisexuality, and pretty much anything to do with asexuality. The surprising part was
Aug 30, 2018 marked it as contemplating-its-sins  ·  review of another edition
I desperately wanted to like this, but it just seemed really dry and dull. Couldn't stay focused on it and have given up on it.
Jan 23, 2020 added it
Really, really useful! I think the biggest benefit to this book is that it's written by someone who is asexual and thus knows the topic firsthand, as opposed to writers who do feel sexual attraction and thus have to imagine the experience of an asexual person.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Like... nobody should be pressured into sex or treated badly for not wanting it, but this book really falls short of identifying much of how misogyny and racism and other shit factors into expectations re: sexuality, and is pretty crappy about like, respecting the lives of lesbian women and gay men... not saying there’s nothing useful here but this was, overall, a bold and an irritating book
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
"we should expect asexuality to be complicated, since mainstream sexuality only seems less complicated because we're all used to it and have been hearing and understanding the contexts of those relationships since we were children"

I found this to be a great point about normalisation of heteronormativity in many societies. This book is a solid, thorough primer. Because the author covers a lot of situations that overlap, such as how to respond if you know someone who is asexual or what to do if yo
Michael Campbell
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Basically this is a book you should read if you're asexual, think you might be asexual, know someone who's asexual, or just want to know more about asexuality. It explains the topic thoroughly.

Each section really could be read on it's own without necessarily having to read the whole book. They're labeled based on who might be reading it. "If you think you may be asexual", "If you know someone who is asexual", etc.

I read the whole book, because I was curious as to how she would explain asexuali
Ornella (Nyx)
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Well this was an eye opener.

As far as the book goes, I like how condensed and concise it is. It doesn't talk around in circles and it's more or less easy to understand. My issue came in with all the sexual orientation labels. I know the more used ones, gay, lesbian, queer, trans, etc. But then there is pan, heterocis, heterotrans, intersex, neutrois, and just all the labels that I was not familiar with and it was overwhelming at the start. Sondra doesn't leave you in the dark. Just thr
Marivi Sanz
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first book I've read about asexuality, and it didn't disappoint.
The book is divided into 6 sections: "Asexuality 101", "Asexual experiences", "The many myths of asexuality", "If you are asexual (or think you might be)", "If someone you know is asexual (or might be)" and "Other resources".

I've found this book really useful as an approach to asexuality, though there were parts that were overwhelming with the amount of information condensed into a few pages while other sections of the
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-on-sex
If I could have read this book as a young teen, this would have changed EVERYTHING. I was given this by my fiancé for Christmas, as it was on my wishlist. I learned just last year that I might be asexual and I’ve been growing into labeling myself this way. There isn’t much literature out there on asexuality, but I am determined to read what is out there.

The part that resonated with me most was when the author discussed asexuals being potentially confused while growing up in a highly religious en
Jordan Lombard
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! Everyone who is asexual or knows someone who is should read this book. Period.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such an important book to read. This should be part of school curriculums. Sex positivity should include the right to not have sex. That should be an option. Read this to understand.
Jody Mena
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book, apart from being thoroughly educational and an excellent resource, was more than anything an eye-opener and a great relief to me. I had an inkling that I wasn't quite "normal" for a long time, like I was reading from a script of how I was supposed to be. But so little of it came naturally to me, and what did come naturally so often ended up causing confusion, misunderstandings and hurt.

It never occurred to me that my orientation might be anything other than heterosexual, and I only j
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is so informative; highly recommend for people who do not know anything about asexuality. Decker addresses what asexuality is, other orientations on the spectrum, and common misconceptions. She also provides resources for people who think they may be asexual. There are personal anecdotes mixed in as well, so that the reader isn't only hearing about asexuality from one person (the author's) perspective.

The biggest flaw is how repetitive the writing is, to the point where Decker uses
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book contains six parts that tries to cover all of the issues on asexuality. It has a 101 guide to generally describe what this orientation is, myths of asexuality and asexual people experiences. Last part of the book that I found very useful has a list of forums, communities, educational media and all other things on asexuality.
There has not been a lot of research on asexuality and therefore, you mostly see same general facts in all of the books on this subject. This is the problem that I
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The F-word: October NON-FICTION selection THE INVISIBLE ORIENTATION 4 54 Oct 28, 2016 09:36AM  

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I'm Julie and I'm primarily on Goodreads to share my reviews and interact with other book lovers, fantasy fans, and writers!

I'm an author who writes both nonfiction and fiction. Most of my fiction is fantasy or speculative fiction. My nonfiction book, The Invisible Orientation, released September 2, 2014 from Skyhorse Publishing/Carrel Books.

You can find out more about me at one of these places:


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“Asexual people are often told they will one day find "the one" and develop sexual feelings and the values society attaches to them. Many asexual folks have to hear this over and over and over again, which thrusts a perpetual image of immaturity upon them. Asexuality is not a signal that a person is necessarily stunted emotionally or physically, and feeling sexual attraction or inclination is not the line everyone must cross to be treated like an adult. Maturity should not be measured by willingness or inclination to seek out or accept sexual experiences. [p. 7]” 13 likes
“Some people misinterpret aesthetic appreciation, romantic attraction, or sexual arousal as being sexual attraction, only to realize later that they are asexual.” 8 likes
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