10 Sexy books worth reading that ain't any bullsh*t shades of grey
The winter reading season is in session, but why post up with another tired true crime novel or Tina Fey memoir when you could be face-deep in some of this century's most molten erotica? Our goal here is to create a list of books that you can not only masturbate to, but will also increase your intelligence by a marketable amount ... although, we guess you could say the same about that Tiny Fey book. Whatever.
This sexy book list isn't for any normal reader looking for easy tales of prudity though — each individual book caters to a freaky, secret (or not-so secret) fetish. Add them to your life by clickity-clicking on the title links (all links are to independent bookstores, because it’s important to not be an Amazon douchebag all the time) and get ready for a damn sexy ride.
10. "Written On The Body" by Jeanette Winterson
Winterson’s "Written On The Body" has no interest in sugar-coating the ugliness and darkness that falling in love often entails. Readers are hit immediately with a wife-stealing, gender neutral narrator who tosses aside a boring love interest for the vibrant, red-haired, married, leukemia-stricken Louise. It’s not the sex scenes that make this book want to “take a moment;” it’s the way Winterson picks apart Louise’s body after the couple parts ways. Because the narrator is obsessed with her lost love, she does massive research on what Louise’s body will go through when slowly taken apart by the disease. It’s a sexy, but grotesque examination of how our minds and bodies react to heartache.
Even though the subject matter is gloomy, the pure infatuation with researching Leukemia doesn’t vary much from the current obsession of cyber-stalking an ex on social media. This story isn’t meant to give readers a warm, fuzzy, Nora Ephron moment; it’s meant to dive into what loss really looks like. What it feels like to make shitty decisions and then be forced to step back and obsess about those decisions for a lifetime. "Written On The Body" beautifully explores our narcissistic preoccupation with our own body image as well as the skin-deepness of others — and what love can do to tear it all apart.
9. "Story of O" by Pauline Reage and Anne Desclos
Unlike some of the other more subtle books on this list, "Story of O" has zero problem with diving into sex. Full. On. This 1954 French novel explores how one woman (O) explores her sexuality through bondage and training. "The Story of O" was extremely controversial in its time because feminists declared that O was objectified and abused by men. The book was written to pay homage to the Marquis de Sade so it makes sense that the bondage and graphic details of sex without boundaries may strike some as vulgar and anti-woman, but we never read it that way. On the contrary: O is clearly empowered by her sexual experiences and even falls in love because of them. This novel creates a space where any person can feel safe just fucking and not feel societal pressure to make every thrust “mean something.”
8. "The Dying Animal" by Philip Roth
If you have a thing for emotionally closed off intellectuals, "The Dying Animal" is definitely going to stoke your academically-inclined lusts. This dark, heartbreaking novel follows a narcissistic professor and his ex-students love affair, but not in a secret sexy way. This raw story explores what it means to be an insecure, aging individual and how the love of a younger, vibrant person can rip your self-esteem, self-awareness and confidence to shreds.
The protagonist, David Kepesh, is a wealthy older professor who can have anything and anyone he wants, but feels completely inadequate when he meets the austere Consuela Castillo. The sexiness of this short novel doesn’t come from the detailed sex scenes, but instead comes from a place of jealousy and fear we all feel when we are truly in love with someone. The moment you allow yourself that vulnerability your heart and mind immediately create a monster that oftentimes murders a relationship.
If you want to end up on the floor wondering what happened to that one love you completely fucked up, this dark and twisty novel is the one for you.
7. "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" by Tom Robbins
We're throwing this gem in for the people who want to leave a mundane life and/or marriage and explore a place where embracing your “abnormalities” is not only empowering but damn sexy. The main character, Sissy Hankshaw, has freakishly large thumbs and, of course, empowers herself by using these thumbs to become a world famous hitchhiker. We know, this doesn’t sound sexy, but the way in which Sissy embraces her thumbs and the phallic nature of said thumbs is incredibly erotic.
Plus, "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" is chalked full of hot lesbian sex between Sissy and Bonanza Jellybean – Jellybean is an anti-hygiene product, free spirited woman who refuses to conform to modern day beauty standards. And for any person who understands how much damn time it can take to “beautify” yourself, even reading about not doing it will dampen your panties. Although the book has sex scenes, "Cowgirls" explores what it feels like to be a spiritually, sexually free woman without the societal or marital constraints that often bind us.
Plus there are sex-obsessed cranes. Cranes! If you want intellectually/sexually stimulating conversations, add this baby to your book club list. Seriously.
6. "Sexus" by Henry Miller
"Sexus" is the first story in Miller’s three-part novel "The Rosy Crucifixion." The story “fictionally” explores Miller’s voyage from leaving his wife to the arms of his new lover/wife June Mansfield. It tells what it’s like to truly enjoy sex — to crave it. The animalistic nature of Miller’s often-obsessed cravings for his new love Mona (Mansfield) is something we can all relate to; it's desperate and encompassing and unrelenting.
There is no grey in this story — everything is written in extremes. Miller isn’t leaving Maude because she is sexless, but rather because there’s no match for Mona’s pure electric nature. Miller is selfish in his pursuit and relationship with Mona; it’s all about how she inspires him and brings out his creativity which is common when writers are infatuated with their muses. But the sexiest of actual sex is explored when Miller ravishes the boring Maude.
His writing makes it impossible for you to not want to run out and fuck. Anyone. Until you lose all control and are forced to devour the person in front of you (you’re welcome, person in front of you.)
5. "Dracula" by Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" has been interpreted and pulled apart for decades, but we're going to push all the theories aside and keep this shit simple. In this erotic novel Stoker explores what it means to be dominated and protest the restrictive social norms of the Victorian era.
Stoker delves into homoeroticism, group sex, bestiality and masochism. Dracula, oftentimes mistakenly considered as wicked handsome, is not blatantly sexual or sexy — it takes work to find the eroticism in this bawdy tale. He's described as a skinny weirdo with pointy ears, so if you’re looking for the Hollywood version of this guy, you’re outta luck. The dirty nature of this beautifully written novel is right under the surface and many speculate that
Stoker, a gay man, wrote the novel to criticize the uptight, judgmental politics of his time. And let’s face it, people, any kind of revolt against unaccepting assholes is a pure, unadulterated turn-on.
4. "Tipping The Velvet" by Sarah Waters
The 1998 debut novel of Waters isn’t the typical coming-out or coming-of-age story. Set in the 1890s the main character, Nan Astley, leaves her mundane, working class family to explore London with a masher named Kitty Butler. The sex between the two and between everyone else is erotic and in no way do we want to take away from the sensuality of Water’s writing here, but the sex isn’t what makes this book sexy. It’s the freedom all of these women have when they’re being open and honest about who they are as individuals.
It’s easy to wank off to arousing literature, but "Tipping the Velvet" explores what it means to truly be free. There’s no apologies made for giving yourself up to role-playing or being paid for sex and that exploration of human nature is truly something that requires a true intellectual to understand. This isn’t meant for the Danielle Steele fans of the world. This is meant for people who want to read and read well.
3. "Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera
This novel. "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is so above typical sexual stereotypes it creates whole new definitions of the differences between love and sex.
There are a shit ton of plot twists and characters in this novel, so we’ll try to break it down for y’all without giving anything away. Tomás is in love with his wife Tereza, but believes in experiencing life and all it has to offer; he explores this free-living way of thinking by fucking a ton of women, but mainly his best friend Sabina. Sabina is a full of life, politically charged artist who has another lover named Franz — Franz is in love with Sabina even though she is distracted by Tomás and her other worldly passions. The sexual pull of this novel is in the trueness of the character development. The characters all have an emotional depth to them that draws the reader in and demands you care about what they’re eating, who they’re having sex with and what they truly feel.
This novel is meant for those who truly understand what it means to want two different people for completely alternate reasons at the same damn time. It’s not easy, but the darkness in trying to make a decision without destroying a person is absolutely real.
2. "Justine" by the Marquis de Sade
To be frank, "Justine" almost didn’t make the list, but after several wine-infused discussions we decided that not all sex or what we find sexy is the same. And a lesson about what “sexual virtue” got you in the 1700s deserves to be on the list. The Marquis de Sade is known for his obscene, graphic novels, and Justine, although less graphic than "120 Days of Sodom," is still not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you’re super sensitive and cannot emotionally extract yourself away from rape or cruelty (understandable) don’t pick this book up. It’ll just piss you off or trigger you.
It’s not the plot of "Justine" that matters here, it’s more about the sexual deviance of her capturers (of which there are many) that is of psychological interest. This book is meant for conversation — deep, uncomfortable conversation about what we feel is actually sexy and what elements about this may turn us on in the deepest, darkest places.
1. "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
Now before you get all “PEDOPHILES ARE NOT SEXY!” on us, just calm the fuck down. "Lolita" makes the top of our list because Nabokov dives into the sexiness of pure and complete obsession. He, of course, intended to make readers uncomfortable by making Lolita an under-aged vixen who manipulates the protagonist Humbert Humbert into doing whatever the hell she wants. And instead of just creating a character we hate, Nabokov makes us feel Humbert’s pain and perversity as he laments over Lolita. It’s all about unrequited love and what happens when your obsession takes over all rational thought to force you into doing things you never thought possible. And that deep, dark descent is fucking sexy.