The 25 Best Erotic Novels to Curl Up With

Spice up your to-read list.

selection of the best erotic novels including Call Me By Your Name and Forever
(Image credit: Courtesy)

Thanks to TikTok’s community of book lovers, a.k.a. BookTok, erotic novels have gone mainstream. Readers, especially fans of spicy stories, have taken to the platform to share their new favorite BDSM books and discuss fan theories (you may even run into smutty character fan art). If BookTok’s spicy obsession has proved anything, it's that flipping through several hundred pages of sexy prose is fun and nothing to be embarrassed about. So, please come (no pun intended) with us into a whole new world of erotic novels with stunning sex. 

Erotica often gets labeled a "guilty pleasure," and while, I mean, yes—there are many campy books to read, some of which are on this list—there are plenty of erotic novels that overlap with genre and literary fiction. Some of these books have inspired Golden Globe-nominated shows, after all (hi, Outlander!). In other words, erotic novels are fun, they're sexy, and they can be prestigious. I mean, where else could you find hot billionaires, rugged war heroes, professors that don't mind giving you a "D" (jokes!), or actors who are just as hot on the screen as they are off? Nowhere but NSFW stories! 

Whether you’re a newbie looking to dip your feet into one of the hottest genres on the planet, or a returning reader in search of a new title to pore over, this list has something hot for everyone. Because everyone has a different comfort level on the subject, we’ve arranged this list according to spice level: Mild, meaning plot-driven stories with a few sex scenes thrown in; Medium, a happy middle ground between plot and sex; and Hot, the steamiest of stories for when you couldn’t care less about what actually happens. So without further ado, here are some of the best erotic novels that will leave you seriously blushing and maybe, just maybe, needing a cold shower afterward.

Mild-Level Erotic Novels

These are the kind of books that make for the perfect introduction into erotica. These books either have plenty of PG-rated (compared to the rest of the stories on this list) smut, or have less than a handful of sexy scenes. The sex scenes may even be of the fade-to-black type, which leaves all the steaminess to your imagination. All in all, though, each erotic novel below is filled with thoughtful prose and a great love story that will make your heart flutter. 

Medium-Level Erotic Novels

You can think of these medium-level spice stories as the bridge between sexy romance novels and full-on smut. In each of these erotic novels, there’s a healthy balance between plot and sex. Here, spicy scenes don’t carry the story, but they certainly don’t hurt it either. If you’re like me and love an amazing story and characters mixed with a generous amount of smut, these are the books for you.  

Hot-Level Erotic Novels

Be prepared to get all hot and bothered while reading these books. These are the type of stories not for the faint of heart—books where any kind of plot takes the backseat to intense, spicy sex. They explore all kinds of fantasies and kinks with language that would make your grandma faint. We wouldn’t blame you if you were a bit too embarrassed to pull these out on your subway ride…or if you read them with one hand (wink, wink).  

Bianca Rodriguez

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.