Erotic Lit: Reading Recommendations for Sensual Minds
Erotic literature should be in every woman’s reading list. Be it a classic, a contemporary one, or a popular one, every girl needs it on her shelf.
Erotica IS for women. Most of the time, they are narrated from the point of view of the heroine. As women read, they step into the heroine’s consciousness. They feel the blindfolds over O’s eyes as she is led naked from the car, or the cold hard hilt of the Captain of the Guard’s dagger handle pushing inside Beauty’s burning loins, or the string of pearls hidden inside Anastasia as Mr. Grey ever-so-slowly pulls them out.
Erotica is for women as porn is for men
Men are simple creatures. They prefer visual stimulation that pornographic films or porn amply provides. Show them a man and a woman in various stages of copulation, throw in a couple of sex toys, some racy costumes, and a variety of gravity-defying positions, and you’ve got a successful porn movie worthy of an Adult Video News Award or the Oscars for porn.
Women are more complicated. You need to pique their interests and tickle their minds. Erotica offers romance, some drama, a dash of mystery, and a man who knows how to give pleasure without being told. Women prefer the images crafted by their rose-colored imagination—a far cry from porn scenes with barely plausible plots, if there is one, performed under bright fluorescent lights.
What is erotica?
Erotica is a form of literature designed to arouse the readers in a sexual manner. It comes in a variety of forms including verses, short stories, and novels. Some of the most popular themes include orgies, sadomasochism, incest and other sexual fetishes.
Erotic literature blossomed in the 1500s, when printing was invented. The English bard William Shakespeare even wrote two erotic poems in his day: one, a story of the goddess Venus and her mortal lover, Adonis, refusing to make love to her despite her supplication in “Venus and Adonis,” and another entitled “The Rape of Lucrece.”
However, that doesn’t mean erotica was not present in ancient times. The biblical “Songs of Solomon” tells of a love between a man and a woman, heavily coated in metaphors to conceal its sexual nature. To illustrate, a section alludes to the woman’s chastity, describing her as a locked garden. However, the next line tells of the woman’s invitation to enter the garden and taste the fruits found within, which the man happily accepted. [Read: How to turn yourself on with your senses]
Types of erotic literature
As they say, women come in all forms and sizes, and so do their tastes in erotica. Some prefer the classics, where the genre was honed and developed. Some opt for the contemporary ones, featuring 20th century heroines and their modern proclivities. Some choose the popular ones gaining notoriety in present time, a total turnaround from the bans and obscenity trials faced by the classics during their time. Here are some of the raciest of the bunch:
#1 Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure tells the tale of a young girl from Liverpool who ventures into London after the death of her parents. In a brothel, she finds the pleasures of masturbation, be it by herself or with another girl.
She later escaped the brothel, only to be put up in an apartment by a nobleman as his lover. However, she was thrown out when Mr. H, the lover, found her having an illicit affair with his well-endowed servant. Fanny Hill entered another brothel, where she engaged in orgies, rape fantasies, and anal sex with three other prostitutes and their clients.
#2 Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue narrates the challenges of a 12-year old girl who fell victim to rogues of all kinds in her search for virtue. The Marquis de Sade tells the story in true Sadean fashion, with generous heaping of “sadism,” derived from his name, and blasphemy against the church, as with Justine’s conversion into a sex slave by monks in a monastery.
‘Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded,’ the novel accompanying Justine, tells the story of Justine’s sister who has turned into an amoral nymphomaniac murderer, whose adventures are characteristic of pornographic violence.
#3 Venus in Furs, written by Austrian Author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, tells the story of Severin, a man whose obsession with a woman, Wanda, drove him to ask to be her slave. At first, Wanda fails to understand his requests to dominate him. However, Wanda eventually finds joy in doing so, and even recruits three more African women to degrade him further. The term “masochism” is derived from the author’s name.
#4 The Lustful Turk, or Lascivious Scenes from a Harem is the story of Emily Barlow, whose voyage to India was cut short, when she was abducted by Moorish pirates. The Dey of Algiers, Ali, took her into his harem, where she was introduced to the glories of sexual passion and anal sex. Her friend, Sylvia Carey, expressed her disgust in a letter sent to Emily. In retaliation, Ali concocted an elaborate plan to capture Carey and add her to his harem.
Asian erotic fiction
#1 Jin Ping Mei tells the tale of a lustful merchant, Ximen Qing and the struggle for power and influence between his six wives and numerous concubines. The novel details as many as 72 sexual encounters between Ximen and his 19 sexual partners. The novel gained notoriety in China, similar to Fanny Hill’s influence in England.
#2 The Carnal Prayer Mat describes the story of a young scholar called Weiyangsheng, whose only aspiration is to seek the most beautiful woman in the world and have sex with her. During his quest, he had his penis surgically enhanced by a Taoist monk, who spliced a dog’s penis into it. After which, he had numerous sexual relationships with married women, which eventually led to his downfall.
#1 The Story of O by Pauline Réage is the story of a Parisian fashion photographer in the world of female submission. The story opens with Rene, her lover, delivering O, naked, bound, and blindfolded to the chateau of Roissy, where she was taught to serve the members of an elite secret society. O was expected to be constantly available for sexual intercourse, be it oral, vaginal or anal stimulation.
#2 Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn are Henry Miller’s semi-autobiographical books, detailing his struggles in New York, including his sexual exploits with women. The books were published in the 1930s but were banned for its sexual content. However, it was republished in the 1960s leading to obscenity trials in the U.S. Supreme Court, where the books were eventually declared as non-obscene.
#3 Ada, or Ardor is an erotic novel written by Vladimir Nabokov. Ada, or Ardor tells the story of Van Veen and his lifelong relationship with Ada, who he believes to be his cousin, but is later discovered to be his sister. The novel is set in an alternate Earth called Antiterra.
Nabokov’s earlier novel, Lolita, deals with a middle-aged man’s obsession with his 12-year old stepdaughter Dolores, who he privately calls his nymphet, Lolita.
#4 Anaïs Nin’s “Little Birds“ is a collection of 13 short stories exploring various sexual themes including lesbianism, exhibitionism and pedophilia. The title story tells of an exhibitionist who lures his victims, mostly young schoolgirls, into his attic using little birds.
This is the author’s second set of erotica, the first of which is “Delta of Venus“, consisting of 15 short stories dealing with sexual restraint, masculinity, patriarchal dominance and incest. Nin and Henry Miller, might I add, were former lovers.
#1 Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Quartet is an erotic retelling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, where instead of a kiss, Beauty is awakened from her sleep by the Prince’s forceful copulation. The first book details her capture and her introduction into the world of male domination, female domination, anal sex, pony play and sadomasochistic orgies, with other sexual tributes in the kingdom.
The second book features her sale at auction as a slave to the villagers, as punishment for her disobedience in the castle. In the third book, Beauty and the princes are captured by Arab soldiers to be included in the Sultan’s harem, but are later rescued by the Captain of the Guards. The last book opens 20 years later, featuring Beauty as the new reigning Queen, ready to receive her own tributes.
#2 Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic trilogy penned by E.L. James, featuring the love affairs of a plain Anastasia Steele and a young and dashing millionaire, Christian Grey. The trilogy includes a variety of sexual elements, including sadomasochism, dominance/submission and bondage, along with generous usage of sexual toys and implements. It is a modern day fairytale with Grey as Prince Charming incarnate. [Read: 50 shades of grey – a new frontier in kink on film?]
Erotica is a woman’s best friend. Sample each genre to know what works for you. Keep one or two, or collect a whole bunch. Even Friends’ Rachel keeps one under her pillow, so why shouldn’t you?!