If Fifty Shades of Grey has proven anything, it's that flipping through several hundred pages of NSFW prose is fun and nothing to be embarrassed about. So, please come (no pun intended) with us into a whole new world of books with stunning sex. Erotica often gets labeled a "guilty pleasure," and while yes—there are many campy books to read, some of which are on this list—plenty of erotica overlaps with genre and literary fiction. In other words, it's fun, it's sexy, and it can be prestigious. Here are several books to get you started.
Anne Rice, woman who gifted us Interview with the Vampire, also wrote The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, a three-book series that's pretty much the same as the beloved fairy tale only with tons of sex. Read with a 2018 lens, some of the themes are a bit problematic—but in the words of Rice, "The books aren't about literal cruelty; they're about surrender, the fun of imagining you have no choice but to enjoy sex. Beauty's slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating."
Best-selling author Sylvia Day's series takes you through a complicated web of 20-something Eva Tramell and billionaire Gideon Cross' love lives. Their relationship begins as an "office" romance—they work in the same building—and develops into an emotional roller coaster as both characters deal with past sexual abuse and secrets they've buried.
As you can tell from the quotes on the cover, this book is, um...a lot. Wetlands is about a young woman's stay in a hospital where she's being treated for an anal fissure, and its depiction of the human body, cleanliness, and sex, is something else completely.
Another four-part series, Melody Anne's story pits two opposite personalities against each other. Raffaello Palazzo is looking for a no-strings-attached sex buddy after his wife leaves him without explanation; in comes Arianna Lynn Harlow to melt his icy heart. Classic tale of good girl meets bad-boy-turned-decent-guy.
To quote Roxane Gay's blurb, this book truly is as charming as it is sexy. And not just because of the scorching bedroom scenes, but because of the nuance with which the love story—between a black woman and white man who meet in an elevator—is told.
This passion-filled book follows a man simply known as "M," who leaves a note—saying he wants one night of emotionless sex—on a napkin for a barista named Lily. Everything in Lily should be screaming, Throw out the napkin! but, spoiler alert: She doesn't.
Call Me by Your Name is so much more than an "erotic novel" (though there's plenty of eroticism). It's a coming of age story filled with beautiful prose and, more than that, it's a reflection on the all-consuming power of love and attraction. The movie is great, but the book is a masterpiece.
Alayna Withers is recovering from a "love disorder" that involves stalking charges (so many questions). She's finally getting her life together when she meets her new boss—a dashing man who could cause Alayna to revert to her old habits. Next book club read?
If you thought the show was sexy, you have no idea what's coming. The Outlander novels are about a time-traveling nurse who finds herself in 18th-century Scotland, where she falls for a Highlander. The catch? She's definitely married and her husband is living in the future.
Brad De Luca (what a name) is a privileged lawyer who's used to getting his way. Julia Campbell's engagement just ended, and she's loving her independent life...until she meets—dun, dun, dun—Brad. It's a well-strung tale of knowing what you want and following your heart. Cheesy, yes, but very gripping.