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Ten erotic books hotter and better than Fifty Shades of Grey

Looking for steamy scenes and excellent writing? Skip E.L. James’s sex-filled trilogy, and take these books to bed instead.

Though E.L. James’s story of BDSM continues to captivate the world (there’s even a Fifty Shades of Fitness workout), we’re still not sure why. There are movies with more innovative and groundbreaking sex scenes, and the book series itself is filled with awkward metaphors and unconvincing melodrama. But sexy books can be smart too—and these 10 deliciously naughty alternatives to Fifty Shades of Grey are riskier and, simply, better.

The one that won over Clinton

Vox by Nicholson Baker
Need a little sexting inspiration? Look no further than the book Monica Lewinsky famously gifted to President Clinton. This instant classic of eroticism contains only two characters, who spend the book’s pages describing their sexual fantasies to each other.

Buy Vox

The novella

Women by Chloe Caldwell
Nothing’s sexier than first love and first intimacies, and Caldwell’s brave autobiographical tale twists the trope into a powerful story about unexpectedly falling in love with a woman and the discoveries, sexual and otherwise, that ensue.

Buy Women

The mythological novels-in-verse

Autobiography of Red and Red Doc> by Anne Carson
Carson, one of the most inventive poets writing today, transforms the Greek myth of Geryon—a red, winged creature slain by Heracles—into two erotically charged books about these notorious characters finding great passion in each other.

Buy Autobiography of Red and Red Doc>

The modern Lolita

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Okay, Nutting’s controversial book is, in fact, about a teacher seducing a young student. But what’s so engaging about Tampa isn’t this scandal: It’s how, with keen details, the author portrays the intensity of obsession from a female perspective, a brilliant twist on Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert.

Buy Tampa

The poetry collection to read aloud

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
The French poet’s volume of verse shocked the 19th-century world with its modernity and undisguised sensual imagery. But one century’s banned book is another century’s nighttime indulgence; as Baudelaire wrote, “Nothing equals the abyss of your bed.”

Buy The Flowers of Evil

The sexy story without any sex

The Virgins by Pamela Erens
As in many budding relationships, the best part of Erens’s recent novel is simply the suggestion of sex. In The Virgins, we join the author’s two college characters for their early explorations of one another and watch them through the voyeuristic perspective of another student.

Buy The Virgins

The "horny" story collection

Inside Madeleine by Paula Bomer
Horny is just one of the words used to summarize Bomer’s stories—honest, fearless and sweaty also appear in descriptions. From sexual kink to the power of menstruation, the author delves deeply into the human body and all the pleasures and pains it holds.

Buy Inside Madeleine

The picture book

The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, M.B., Ph.D.
No, we don’t expect you to read the words—the graphic illustrations prove evocative enough and are the prime reason this timeless guide has sold over 12 million copies.

Buy The Joy of Sex

The science-fiction romance-turned-television hit

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Sure, the TV show has Scottish accents and men in kilts, but Gabaldon’s cult novel has been winning fans for more than 20 years with its decadent, time-hopping story of a woman torn between desire for two men—one in 1945 and the other in 1743.

Buy Outlander

The tried-and-true classic

Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
In short, Nin paved the way for all the erotica that followed in her influential wake. Her enduring set of lurid and gaspworthy stories is basically guaranteed to seduce anyone. Use this power wisely.

Buy Delta of Venus

Comments

21 comments
Carry M
Carry M

I just read Conquest by Steam Bijou and it got me all hot and bothered: www.steambijou.com

Amy F
Amy F

A classic - Story of O by Pauline Reage.

lynn L
lynn L

@Amy F Absolute garbage. Glad the author is dead. Promotes the abuse of women unto death.

Lena P
Lena P

You guys need to add 'Food Porn: an erotic memoir' to your list! It's written by a Sydneysider and juxtaposes food and sex in a totally naughty way. It's hot!

Mary Leckie
Mary Leckie

I read 50 Shades of Gray and it was ok I guess. But yesterday I happened to come across a "free" short story compilation on Amazon called Just the Juicy Parts by H.M. Christi and it is so much better! You have got to check it out! This author is going to go some where, you can bet on that! She's amazing with words!

Michelle
Michelle

Hi Yvonne See Erotic Helen by Dale Quentin on Amazon.....what a hot read, let me know your thoughts? Mic

Paula
Paula

Hello I've just finished reading " Erotic Helen" written by Dale Quentin, what prompted me to contact you was this book by-passes 50 Shades of Grey this book leaves it standing, believe you me, personally reckon it will be the next bestseller, it's in most bookstores, but you can have a brief look on Amazon. Merry Christmas from Paula x

Paula
Paula

Having recently read "Erotic Helen" by Dale Quentin found it extremely sexually exhilarating, could have been longer, but what a story?

Yvonne
Yvonne

Hello everyone, I am a big fan of erotica books and I have come across one on Amazon.com by a new unknown author that I found to be very steamy and exciting. If you like reading books by new upcoming authors and well-seasoned authors, take a look at Society of Secret Pleasures by Yevette. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat squirming.

Dave Allan
Dave Allan

See "Erotic Helen" on Amazon.....By Dale Quentin......Wow

Reezie Aven
Reezie Aven

Hello fellow readers :) im an avid fan of steamy adult romance books (i love the usual genres like fantasy,horror, and chiclit but oh,well, u cant fight the urge to read eroticas from time to time xD ) I recently joined the newsletter in http://emmaroseromance.com and im loving the books they send me for free!!! get urs now :)

D. Weston
D. Weston

Sometimes it amazes how media and marketing collide. Here it is I'm a real retired military policeman (U.S. Air Force - security police) with an erotic novel book called (Abducted...101) on Amazon Kindle, and I can't get many readers because it is just one of hundreds of thousands of books hidden in the haystack of Kindle...yet the minute the 'media' spreads the story J.K. is the author she gets a 500,000% increase in sales. Marketing is the real engine that drives sales, not claiming to be a Vet--otherwise, perhaps I'd have a few more readers. Just saying... Oh' well, it is still fun writing stories.

Kytherea Tahari
Kytherea Tahari

How about Laura Antoniou's Marketplace series... MUCH better and hotter than 50 Shades... although I did love the books... And OUTLANDER... well listen to me.. this is an AWESOME book and even better if you listen to the audiobook narrated by Davina Porter who brings all the characters to life. WARNING.. there are five books after this one and they are like smoking crack.... Don't say I didn't warn you!

Juliet F
Juliet F

@Kytherea Tahari  7 books after Outlander.....every one of them as enticing as the first


dragonfly
dragonfly

I've read four of these, and um, no, these are not erotica. They may be good books, but the author is missing the point.

CesiaJ
CesiaJ

hmm... i was looking for Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Trilogy but it's obviously not here. Great novels, as some of them I've already read, but oops, wrong list (or rather wrong list title).

Thomas S. Roche
Thomas S. Roche

This is an offensive and sex-negative list. I hope other professional erotic writers find it as insulting as I do. I and other writers like me have spent the last twenty years reinventing the erotica genre. Now Fifty Shades of Grey stumbles along into its ill-deserved limelight, and you trot out ten books that have nothing to do with erotica in...what? An attempt to make yourselves feel classier than the "mommies" consuming Fifty Shades of Grey? These may be great books (in the case of Broyard's memoir and Neruda's poetry, I know they are), and they may be highly significant in the history of sex writing (Vox, The Joy of Sex) but their treatment here shows that you haven't the foggiest idea what constitutes the genre of erotica. Fifty Shades of Grey is romantic, erotic entertainment intended to produce arousal. These are works of literature that concern themselves with sex -- or in the case of the inexplicably included of Comfort's book, a sex guide. These books CANNOT credibly be compared to Fifty Shades of Grey -- except by someone who hasn't the slightest knowledge of the genre. What's more, I submit that if you are trying to claim you use these books for the same thing most readers use Fifty Shades for, then, well, you're either lying or truly, truly weird. Next time, please do a little research before you place your ignorance on display. There are many books of erotica that ARE more erotic than Fifty Shades of Grey. But if you're the kind of juvenile who believes that "you don't so much read" the Joy of Sex as sneak peeks at the illustrations when you're twelve, then how would you know? Five minutes on Google or Amazon would tell a savvy buyer more about how to find quality erotica than this offensive, sex-negative, and brutally uninformed article.

C P S
C P S

@Thomas S. Roche


Dear Tom,


How do you know that the books mentioned by both the commentors and the authors of the article have not been read? Before you cast the first stone--ooh, that's hot --you might want to ascertain if these are real recommendations by folks who have already put their money where their mouth is. 


Sex and erotica is like almost anything else, Tommy. One woman's cigar is another woman's--well, never mind. I understand that zucchini is not only a vegetable, and in that case, The Joy of Cooking might be right up there. Or anything else. 


Light up a doobie, put on something silky,pour your favorite drink and chill, brother.