Books on Nakedness and Nudity

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Nude recreation and travel

Lee Baxandall - Lee Baxandall's World Guide to Nude Beaches and Resorts
This is the comprehensive and definitive guide to accepted public clothing-optional beaches and sunbathing areas. Many U. S. resorts affiliated with The Naturist Society are also listed. The guide is heavily illustrated with high-quality naturist photography and is a must-have for naturists. Keep it on the coffee table as a can't-miss conversation starter. Also makes a great gift for anyone who might open-mindedly consider naturism.

AANR - North American Guide to Nude Recreation
AANR (The American Association for Nude Recreation) is the primary organization for members and owners of nudist/naturist camps, clubs, and resorts in the U. S. Most such facilities of any size are affiliated with the AANR, so their Guide is an almost complete directory of private locations for nude recreation. As such, it is almost entirely complementary to Baxandall's guide, and equally essential for those interested in private facilities.

World Naturist Guide 1996-1997
The International Naturist Federation is the umbrella organization for national naturist/nudist organizations around the world. This is their guide book, and it's the most comprehensive guide available that covers the whole world. (The Baxandall and AANR guides are better for North America alone.) The book is full of maps and directions to resorts, parks, beaches, and organizations.

Bill Kaysing, Ruth Kaysing - Great Hot Springs of the West
Hot Springs tend to represent a very different sort of experience from beaches. Whether or not they are clothing optional (and most which aren't commercially operated are), they are usually located in remote places and are not easily accessed without some effort. Consequently, crowds are rare, so peace and solitude are the norm. The Kaysings' guide covers all the U. S. west of the Rockies, so it's selective and presents only the "best", which leads to a greater emphasis on commercially developed springs. There are also detailed maps indicating the locations of many springs which are not described in the guide.

Marjorie Gersh-Young - Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest
The original of this guide first appeared in 1979 under the authorship of Jayson Loam. Loam, who died in 1994, was a dedicated hot springs enthusiast who, previously known as Stan Sohler, had been a leader of the "free beach" movement and president of the American Sunbathing Association (now the AANR). The guide has gone through several editions and covers, in two volumes, the same territory as Kaysing's book, but lists many more locations. Many maps and pictures are included.

Marjorie Gersh-Young - Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Northwest
This half of the Gersh-Young guide covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

Matt Bischoff - Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs
Here's a guide to consider if you want something more focused on California and Nevada. It's about the same length as the other guides listed here, but somewhat more detailed within its area of coverage. 83 locations are listed.

Phil Owensby - Sun 'n' Soak: Clothing Optional Naturally
Yet another hot springs guide book. This one is about locations in the Northwestern U. S. - and it has an explicitly naturist orientation. The author represents that he has swum, soaked, or sunbathed nude at every location listed. Also, unlike most of the other hot springs guides listed here, this one has color photos. It even has its own Web site.

Pancho Doll - Day Trips With a Splash: The Swimming Holes of California
A popular alternative to hot springs for people who like water and nature is the old-fashioned "swimming hole" located (usually) in a river or stream in a remote mountainous setting. Apparently, however, only recently has a decent guide to such locations in California been published, and this is it. Over 100 swimming holes are described. Detailed maps and a helpful rating system make it easy to pick a destination that's best for you. An attractive feature of the guide is an indication of how much privacy you can expect, just in case you plan to enjoy the water naturally. You can get a very good idea of the book at the author's Web site.

Chris Santilli - The Naked Truth About Hedonism II
Hedonism II, an "all-inclusive" resort in Negril, Jamaica, is the best-known bad-boy of the naturist world. It is not a naturist resort - many guests don't even get especially nude in public. But many naturists who appreciate both nudity and more of a party atmosphere than is found at true naturist resorts love it. This funny, uninhibited - and unauthorized - guide explains why. The author's Web site is here

Western United States Nudist Park and Resort Guide
There's not much information on this title. Do you like to gamble?

Naturism and nudism

Paul Penhallow - Living Naked and Frugal: A Handbook for Parsimonious Nudity
College professor Robert Holm, AKA Paul Penhallow, retired early from his teaching job and took up a frugal, nomadic life made possible, in part, by eschewing clothes. Even if frugality doesn't appeal to you, perhaps living more simply does. In any case, this very short book can be read quickly and will serve as a fine introduction to living simply and clothes-free.

Dennis Craig Smith, William Sparks - Growing Up Without Shame: Social Nudity and its Effect on Children
This is an essential book for people who are living a clothes-free lifestyle or merely curious about it. The book deals with the controversial subject of the effect of nudity on children. It provides a great deal of evidence that nudity, as practiced by people living a naturist/nudist lifestyle, is not only not harmful to children, but offers many concrete benefits.

Paul Abelman - Beyond Nakedness
In only a little more than 100 pages Abelman provides an erudite and entertaining survey of the history and sociology of nudity around the world. Read this book to gain a perspective on how people in other times and places have had a much more tolerant attitude towards nudity than what is common now in North America. Some of the details presented may come in very handy when discussing nudity with skeptical friends and family.

Ed Lange, Stan Sohler - Nudist Magazines of the 50s & 60s, Book 1
Anthony Comstock was an earlier incarnation of today's intolerant religious zealots intent on dictating how everyone should live their private lives. He died in 1915 and left an ugly legacy known at the Comstock Act, which outlawed many forms of free speech as "obscenity". Though it was enacted more than 100 years ago, it was never repealed. Until several important court decisions in the 1950s it was used successfully by the government to suppress (among other things) legitimate nudist publications. Once free of government censorship, nudist magazines and the U. S. nudist movement itself blossomed in the 50s and 60s. These selections from the periodicals of the time are still enlightening and informative for their earnest and enthusiastic portrayal of nudist philosophy and lifestyle - an enthusiasm which is hard to recreate in today's more cynical age.

Ed Lange, Stan Sohler - Nudist Magazines of the 50s & 60s, Book 2
The second volume of this series has useful historical articles. An especially good article, from well before the 50s (1934), was written by an outsider. Other articles deal with nudity among the ancient Etruscans, an early protest demonstration on behalf of nude beaches in San Francisco, and prudery in England. There's also an article by Aldous Huxley's widow on dancing naked to music.

Ed Lange - Nudist Magazines of the 50s & 60s, Book 3
The third volume of the series is mainly about nudism in Europe. The first article, however, covers an important 1958 court decision that overturned indecent exposure convictions of nudists at a Michigan camp. Other articles deal with France, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland.

Ed Lange - Nudist Magazines of the 50s & 60s, Book 4
The fourth volume has a mixture of articles from the 60s. One is by Donald Johnson (pseudonym of John Ball) on his extensive nudist library. Other articles deal with nudism and nature, free beaches, body painting, and nudism in southern France (before the development of Cap d'Agde).

Related sociology, psychology, anthropology

David Sedaris - Naked
Sedaris is a humorist, and most of the chapters in his book of autobiographical sketches have nothing to do with nudity per se. They are, however, extremely funny, and most of the humor is at the expense of himself or other family members. "Naked", the title chapter and the last one in the book, is about the author's visit to a nudist camp. Curiosity, and perhaps a humorist's instinct for finding a topic to inspire him, drove him to visit the camp. After a week there, however, he was reluctant to leave: "Clothing was no longer optional. Now it was mandatory, and I found myself resenting it." You will be well-rewarded to get the book for the humor. But you'll finish it up with insights like this: "Nudism didn't cause me to love my body, it simply allowed me to accept my position in what is clearly the scheme of things."

Emily Jenkins - Tongue First: Adventures in Physical Culture
Contemplating Jenkins' project that is the subject of this book, one is reminded of Thoreau's "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach." Only in the present case, the author says, "Working on this project, I went into things tongue first. To see how they tasted." The project here is to learn about how a human body lives and experiences the world at a basic sensory level. Jenkins' quest leads her through a diversity of raw experiences, including drugs, sensory deprivation, body modifications, tattoos, sex, fetishism, spa treatments, public baths, yoga, rolfing, physical fitness, and - nude beaches. In spite of a family tradition of skinny-dipping, the author fell a little short of attaining satori from going naked at the beach. But it's instructive to ponder a bit on the observations of an outsider who perspective is not that of orthodox naturism. Be sure to visit for more information on and excerpts from the book.

Lawrence Langner - The Importance of Wearing Clothes
Most people in the developed world today take for granted "the importance of wearing clothes," and hardly even think about it. Langner, however, wondered (for example), "Why do we wear clothes in the broiling heat of summer?" The author's project is to find answers that justify this "importance" rather than disproving it. But he does give an interesting history of clothing and fashion through most of recorded history. There is a chapter on "Clothes and Nudism". Langner's conclusions in that chapter probably summarize pretty well the common attitudes of clothing-compulsive society, for instance that nudity robs "human beings of their dignity of office and the authority which is imparted to them by their clothes." This attitude could just as well be taken as evidence of the unimportance of wearing clothes. Even so, the author acknowledegs that "we are indebted to the nudists for emphasizing the importance of removing [clothes] from time to time for our physical and spiritual well-being."

Ashley Montagu - Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin
Montagu is one of the most distinguished anthropologists of this century (or any, for that matter). He has also written positively of nudism. In this book he considers "the skin as a tactile organ very much involved, not alone physically but also behaviorally, in the developement of the organism." Although he says relatively little directly about nudism here, the importance of our skins, which he thoroughly documents, supports a conclusion that we lose a great deal if our skin is always mostly covered. "Clothes largely cut off the experience of pleasurable sensations from the skin. ... Natural skin stimulation, the play of air, sun, and wind on the body, can be very pleasurable."

James Hunter, William Davis, Donald Kroitzsch - The Curiosity Book
We live in a society where nudity is a taboo and most children are not taught to feel positively about their own bodies. Children's natural curiosity about the bodies of others is, at best, a cause for nervousness and, at worst, strongly discouraged. Are you a parent who's worried about this? If so, then this book may be a big help. According to the publishers, it "unabashedly shows how people look to satisfy a child's natural curiosity about human bodies: young & old; boy & girl; man & woman; black & white; large and small." They further describe it as "an owner's manual on positive body awareness for young children and their caregivers. It is simply written for use by adults with children - full of photos - written so parents can insert their own family values." Check their Web site for more information.

Gordon Gill - Recreational Nudity and the Law
Would you be tempted to enjoy the world of nature outdoors, sans clothing, at beaches, hot springs, swimming holes, or forest trails except for a concern about the legal implications? In fact, there are probably far fewer laws specifically against simple public nudity than you might suppose, but laws do differ drastically from place to place. You certainly wouldn't want to face the embarassment and legal repercussions of not knowing what the actual rules are. This book can give you the facts to let you relax - safely - about outdoor nude recreation. It presents abstracts of 101 cases dealing with recreational nudity and how they were handled in the legal system.

Photography and art

Jock Sturges - The Last Day of Summer
Sturges, of course, is the enormously talented and (to some anyhow) highly controversial photographer whose eloquent work has created passionate admirers and equally passionate enemies. This is his first published book. Most of his subjects are naturists, pictured in their natural habitat, on the beaches of Montalivet in France and the rivers of northern California. Of the various kinds of "nude photography", Sturges' specialty is the image that primarily explores the personality of his subjects, rather than their "sensuousness" or abstract shape or symbolic meanings. But it isn't about individuals alone. The relatedness of the subjects to each other and to the viewer is also emphasized. As Jayne Anne Phillips says in her introductory essay, "Jock Sturges' photographs center on the self as cosmology, on the world as elemental home to that self."

Jock Sturges - Radiant Identities
This is Sturges' second book. The subject matter is much the same as the first - after all, it is timeless and not really capable of being exhausted. It is all the more timeless because the subjects, often unclothed and in natural places, could be from almost any time, any place. The introductory essay by Elizabeth Beverly is titled "Inhabiting the open air". There are almost no pictures taken indoors, much less in a studio. The emphasis is on openness. But as Beverly says, the "setting is more than just the land; it is the culture in which [the subjects] are photographed. Most live in communities that celebrate the quieter virtues: family companionship, an appreciation of natural beauty, a timely embrace of leisure." The most important fact is noted that each picture is not merely the photographer's work, but a real collaboration between photographer and subject. Sturges' subjects speak in body language, but when they express themselves in words, they say things like "In this life, we're stuck in bodies and it isn't always easy. Sometimes I like my body, at other times I don't. But I'm always in it, and others always see me in it. Of course, as a woman, I want to claim myself, to grow more comfortable in my skin."

Jock Sturges - Jock Sturges
The third of Sturges' books is a larger retrospective. The arrangement of the photographs is generally chronological, which is highly significant. Over 15 years of Sturges' work is presented. In most cases, the images of each subject are in chronological order. Time and change, metamorphosis, is one of the things his work is about. Growth and maturation. Sturges has remained close to his subjects and now photographs the families of subjects who were children when he met them. We have the opportunity to see the adult-to-be in the child, and the child-that-was in the adult. Because the personalities are as revealed as the bodies, we see that "growing up" is not without its misgivings, but is not to be avoided either.

Julianna FreeHand - Elizabeth's Dream: A Photographic Tapestry of Woman
Elizabeth's Dream takes Sturges' project of depicting growth and metamorphosis to its logical conclusion, embracing the whole life cycle: child, young woman, wife, mother, elder. It is also a higly unusual work - printed in a fanfold rather than a conventional bound book. The subjects of all ages are entirely - and appropriately - naked. The black and white images were taken with infrared film, which creates a distinctly surreal effect - dreamlike, as the title implies. This is a very feminist work that uses both its medium and nudity to convey the message. In the photographer's words, "Infrared film lends itself to a study of woman because it conveys a sense of the emotional veil with which she clothes the nakedness of her relationships." It is also a deeply naturist book, because it stresses how there is no real distinction between the self and the body. One of the older women who was a subject discovered this through her participation: "I suddenly realized that this body I'd been denying was me".

Laurie Edison - Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes
Edison't book is a feminist photographic essay on the body, but as different from Elizabeth's Dream as can be imagined. Social prejudices against fat people in general, and fat women in particular, are widespread and strongly entrenched, in spite of decades of progress to overcome prejudices affecting many other minority groups. This book tackles the problem head on by presenting its subjects as people first, through powerful fine art photographs. Check here for more about the book, here for an interview from N magazine with Laurie Edison, and here for the photographer's own Web site.

Howard Schatz - Waterdance
This is a book about dance rather than naturism. Except that the subjects, both men and women, are mostly naked. All are professional dancers photographed underwater. They are therefore weightless and reflect our dreams in which we fly naked, unencumbered by either gravity or clothes - the ultimate in freedom. As Isadora Duncan, one of the greatest dancers of all time, explained: "The noblest art is the nude. ... the instrument of the [dance art] is the human body itself." This work is a breakthrough about "life after gravity". And after clothing, too.

Edna Bullock - Edna's Nudes
Wynn Bullock was one of the century's great photographers, in the same league as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Like Weston, he was celebrated in part for his work with nudes. It turned out that, after his death, his wife Edna also achieved considerable mastery in photography of "the nude". Wynn's nudes were, like Weston's, more about abstract form and beauty than what one could call "naturist" in theme. Edna's nudes in this book, likewise, represent a number of styles and themes, a great diversity in fact. The ones which are not "naturist" often feature models in stiff, unnatural, though "artistic" poses, or in contexts involving humor or irony. On the other hand, a considerable portion present their subjects in relaxed poses and natural settings. These well deserve to be called "naturist".

Richard Lorenz, Imogen Cunningham - Imogen Cunningham: On the Body
Imogen Cunningham, who died in 1976 at the age of 93, was one of the great photographers of this century. Like most great artists, she dealt brilliantly with many subjects. But "the nude" was always one of her favorites, beginning with a nude self-portrait in 1906 at age 23, and moving on to frolicsome portraits of her new husband, nude, on Mt. Rainier in 1915 (which were considered quite scandalous). Many of these nude studies, including her self portrait, are unquestionably naturist and deal with people of all ages and conditions.

Greg Friedler - Naked New York
Do clothes make a difference? What do ordinary people look like naked, under their clothes? Might we form a different idea of a person's nature if we could see them naked? Questions like this motivated Friedler to create a series of side-by-side portraits of a cross-section of New Yorkers. In one image each is dressed normally and in the other the subject is naked. Most, probably, are not nudists, nor is the photographer. But his outlook is similar: "I photographed each person clothed and naked in order to show the two sides of the same person, the public as well as the private. The clothed version is only part of the truth. ... Nakedness, on the other hand, reveals people the way they are."

Kenneth Clark - The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form
Art historian Kenneth Clark is as famous for his survey of Civilization as for this study of one of civilization's most noteworthy accomplishments: the apperception our own corporeal form through "art". One of the functions of art is to explain us to ourselves. Clark's study of the history of the nude in art through the centuries introduces us to a variety of concepts which "the nude" has come to represent for us, such as energy, pathos, and ecstasy. This is a masterful work, and falls short of being "definitive" only because it's not possible to write the "final word" on this particular subject.

Gill Saunders - The Nude: A New Perspective
From the book: "Since Kenneth Clark's major study, The Nude, appeared in 1956, value changes and social changes (influenced particularly by the rise of feminism), as well as aesthetic and technological developments in painting and photography, have produced new attitudes to the role and meaning of the naked body in art." The author, an art expert and a woman, brings a feminist perspective to the theory of "the nude" in art. This is a very welcome addition to the traditional male point of view, but it is definitely not an anti-nudity perspective. She points out that there is a real problem in the overwhelming predominance of the representation of female vs. male nudity in art of the last few centuries. Yet her own attitude is more like that of the Greeks, in which "the nude, apart from its celebration of physical beauty, expressed the nobility and potential of the human spirit." And she hails the efforts of contemporary female artists who are "exploring ways of reinvesting the nude with a sense of women's experience of sex and the body." Several of the other books listed here are perfect examples of this.

Nudist/naturist pictorials

Robbert Broekstra - Robbert Broekstra's Nude World
Broekstra is a Dutch photographer who has been a naturist for over 30 years. About half the book is a documentary of naturist activities in his native country. The other half is a whirlwind tour of naturist sites in almost every other country where naturism has a significant following, except for the U. S.

Richard West - Canada Naturally: The Book
What do nudists do all day at a nudist camp or park? This is something that more than a few non-nudists wonder about, if they think about the subject at all. West, a Canadian, naturist, and photographer, shows us. The answer: quite a variety of things from swimming, to games, to tending their gardens, to getting married, to just relaxing. Along the way one gets a good tour of naturist club and resort opportunities in Canada.

Ed Lange - Fun in the Sun: Nudist and Naturist Living
One of a series of photo books by the late Ed Lange of Elysium Fields. In addition to many classic (pre-1970) naturist pictures it contains brief essays on nudist/naturist ideals and principles and answers to commonly asked questions. There are also some interesting magazine-style articles, such as "The Psychology of Clothes" and "The Brave Nude World of Gustav Vigeland" (about the Vigeland Sculpture Park, a 75-acre park in Oslo full of nude sculpture).

Ed Lange - Family Naturism in America: A Nudist Pictorial Classic
One of a series of photo books by the late Ed Lange of Elysium Fields. Although it's mainly intended as a collection of classis (pre-1970) naturist pictures, there is some text sketching the history of nudism and naturism in the U. S.

Ed Lange - 'N' is for Naked
One of a series of photo books by the late Ed Lange of Elysium Fields. This is a somewhat lightweight collection of classic (pre-1970) nudist/naturist pictures organized as an "ABC" book.

Ed Lange - Nudist Nudes
Long before he became deeply involved in organized nudism and in operating his Elysium Fields resort, Ed Lange was a successful commercial photographer. But nudist subjects were always a large part of his work. This book is a collection of black and white nudist photography he did through the mid-1960s.

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Last updated: November 12, 1998