Erotica is not a new book genre. While novels with lots of sex has become more mainstream, they’ve been around for quite a wild. Many of the ones on this list were considered quite scandalous when they were published. (Some still are.) Just because they’re classics, doesn’t mean they’re not worth the read. These rule-breaking books are still as hot today.
Classic Erotica Every Book Lover Should Read
No, this was a melting together, a vanishing together into a soft, dark womb of warmth. – Anaïs Nin, Little Birds
Little Birds by Anais Nin (1979): Anais Nin is the ultimate badass. Born of Cuban parents in France, she was part of a group that wrote porn for a dollar a day. She took many lovers including Henry Miller. Published 2 years after her death, Little Birds is a collection of short stories from lesbianism to voyeurism.
As a matter of fact,” the other voice went on, “if you do tie her up from time to time, or whip her just a little, and she begins to like it, that’s no good either. You have to get past the pleasure stage, until you reach the stage of tears.” -Pauline Reage, Story of O
Story of O by Pauline Reage (pen name for Anne Desclos): Published in 1954, this novel about erotic submission was so scandalous, that French authorities brought obscenity charges against its publisher. O is a beautiful fashion photographer who submits to slave training to prove her love to Rene, her master. She joins a secret club where she is trained in both mind and body to fully submit to her master. If your only introduction to BDSM has been Fifty Shades, be prepared to have your eyes opened. This short novel is intense. Story of O has inspired an illustrated version, a film, and other books such as Emmanuelle.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928): When Lady Chatterley’s husband returns home from war paralyzed from the waist down, she realizes that she cannot ignore her physical needs. Her sexual frustration leads her to an affair with the “help.” Hey, a woman has needs, too! Lawrence’s novel offended Victorian sensibilities. So much that it wasn’t until 1960, that an uncensored version was published. There’s also a film version that’s available on Amazon Prime. I haven’t seen it yet, so take one for the team and report back.
This monster was outfitted with faculties so gigantic that even the broadest thoroughfares would still have appeared too narrow for him. ― Marquis de Sade, Justine
Justine by Marquis de Sade (1791): Another French book! Those French folks know how to have fun. Justine begins a journey to make a life for herself. To survive she’s force to make tough choices many of them sexual. Think sex slaves to monks and orgies. Sade was jailed for the last 13 years of his life because Napoleon deemed his works obscene. But we know that Napoleon was just compensating for other things.
The Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana (200 CE): Fess up, you snuck this book into a corner of the bookstore and giggled at the illustrations. The Kama Sutra is more than a guide to sexual positions. It’s a guide to gracious living as it pertains to the nature of love, family life, and other pleasure oriented experiences. But if you want a modern illustrated version, try this one.
Have you read any of these? Or what should we add to this list?