Love & Sex

The 15 Erotic Books You Absolutely Have to Read

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The 15 Erotic Books You Absolutely Have to Read

One reader poll says reading erotica makes women feel empowered.

By Leigh Lumford

In a reader poll of 800 women taken by bestselling author Alessandra Torre, 95 percent of respondents said they felt sexually empowered by reading erotica. With that in mind, we've compiled a list to empower the masses. From the newest to the classics, debauched to the romantic, we searched for the truly well-written and most entertaining options available. In no particular order, here are 15 erotic books to seduce every bibliophile in your life.

 

Bad Behavior (Short Stories) Mary Gaitskill

Nine stories that depict the darker side of humanity. The stories focus on a sect of society dislocated from the norm. The film Secretary was based off the story of the same name if that gives some perspective. The New York Times review proclaimed Gaitskill's debut work to be full of authority, "radar-perfect detail, that she is able to make even the most extreme situations seem real." 

Sex Love Repeat (Fiction)
Alessandra Torre

Polyamory is on the tip of everyone's tongue lately. Maybe it's not your "thing" but nearly 85 percent of women polled took something they'd read and used it for real life inspiration. 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Fiction)
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Published in 1782, this series focuses on two ex-lovers and rivals as they use humiliation to degrade others for personal gain. This renowned work is a tangled web of lust in the French aristocracy, complete with revenge and seduction.

Tropic of Cancer (Fiction)
Henry Miller

Once banned by US censorship laws, Miller's erotic work gained notoriety because people love what they can't have. The book is a first person account of Miller's time spent in Paris during the late 1920s. His explicit descriptions of sexual encounters are more akin to real life than standard erotic fiction. Even if starving artists don't turn you on, this is a classic work worth reading.

The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (Memoir)
Catherine Millet

Erotica taken from real life accounts have an extra dose of allure. Translated from French, Millet recounts her grander-than-life sexploits in this memoir. Hedonism at its finest but matched with an intelligent self-reflection, Millet has conquered erotica with this fine memoir.

Best Erotica 2014  (Short Stories)
Edited by Violet Blue, Kathleen Warnock & Larry Duplechan

Best Erotica comes in three forms: gay, lesbian and women's erotica. There's no waiting until page 100 buildup, Best Erotica gets to the point. This anthology of essays contains stories of varied themes. some will make you clutch your pearls, others will make you swoon. Best Erotica delivers on giving the reader more than one flavor.

Beautiful Bastard (Fiction)
Christina Lauren

"The first book in the series, the couple is hate fucking at least once a chapter for the first 3/4 of the book. It's pretty satisfying. I've gotten a few people hooked," says NY-based romance novel critic Kim Jefferson.

The Mighty Quinns (Fiction)
Harlequin

More longing looks than the break-the-bed raunchiness of the aforementioned books, this series holds to its classic roots. Harlequin has a devout readership and Jefferson sees value in the publishing house, "Solid authors write the books and are able to keep a theme and set of characters fresh."

The Ex Games (Novella)
J.S. Cooper, Helen Cooper

We've heard this story before: a young girl meets a mysterious billionaire and all hell breaks loose. If it worked the first time, why change the equation? This series of three novellas are currently on The New York Times best sellers list and the biggest complaint by reviewers seems to be the length, readers want more – no surprise there.

Vox (Fiction)
Nicholson Baker

The New York Times hailed Baker as "The mad scientist of smut" in 2011. In true Baker form, the entire story is centered around one event: a phone sex conversation. Phone sex isn't easy, so imagery becomes paramount to arousal and Vox holds to this measure. Baker has authored many books but this one is by far his most popular erotic work.

Delta of Venus (Short Stories)
Anaïs Nin

Nin's imagination runs rampant through her characters in Delta. This erotic juggernaut is an exploration of creativity and sophisticated naughtiness. Nin's "Words carry colors and sounds into the flesh."

Story of O (Fiction)
Pauline Réage

What goes on inside our deepest fantasies can often scare us if we look too closely. Luckily, the characters can take every spanking for us if our bottoms can't handle it. Willing debasement and bondage strung up in prose, Réage takes readers to the depth of her imagination.

Endless Love (Fiction)
Scott Spencer

This love story is all about the body-aching love of being a teenager. This highly acclaimed novel will take you back to your first love and how everything felt urgent and earth shattering.

A Girl Walks Into a Bar (Fiction)
Helena S. Paige

Styled after the Which Way books, readers get to determine how the story plays out. Within its choices are limitations and the authors perceived opinions but there aren't many books of its type. The Paris Book Review wasn't a fan for deeper reasons that this author can sympathize with. However, the PBR found it worth reviewing, which is something, and no one should have to answer for the style of erotic literature they consume.

Lady Chatterley's Lover (Fiction)
D. H. Lawrence

Lady Chatterley's husband returns from war paralyzed from the waist down, and her ensuing love affair with the gamekeeper threw early 20th century England into quite a tizzy. D. H. Lawrence was praised and ridiculed for his work. From Torre's poll, 69 percent of women are married, and I'd bet Lady Chatterley's story fulfills many fantasies.

 

Remember, many of the books are part of a series, which is lucky, since nearly 91 percent of polled women read at least one erotica book per month. Embrace your inner Amazon and keep reading. You don't even have to do it at home, take it with you since ninety two percent of respondents read erotica on an eBook — you sly vixens.

Image via Flickr.

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