No Fabio, no Harlequins.
There’s a reason Harlequin novels have been a publishing force for decades (even occupying spots on the New York Times bestseller lists), and that the 50 Shades trilogy became so mainstream. We’ve always known that reading is good for the mind, but consider literotica Chicken Soup for the Sexual Soul.
Caitlin K. Roberts, a Toronto-based sex educator, explains: “It is imperative, as women, that we feed the deep and powerful force that is our genuine erotic, sexual pleasure, whatever that means for you. If that is reading literotica in the tub on a Sunday with candles, amazing. If it’s getting handcuffed to a pole and flogged for three hours on a Tuesday morning, you do you.”
That’s right, friends: authenticity is a crucial part of self-love, whether as master of your domain or opening the floodgates for a partner (or three).
“Unlike mainstream porn, reading erotica engages many women’s automatic nervous systems; biologically speaking, there are things we can get in story form that get our accelerators going. Whether it’s the heaps of attention given to women and their bodies, the build-up of characters that ties us and grounds us in our assurance that we’re sexually drawn to them, or the ability to go as slow or as fast as we want. The portrayal of genuine pleasure cannot be faked in written word.
“In short, experiencing authentic and genuine sexual pleasure gives our brains a huge boost of dopamine that turns us into confident, creative, and assertive powerhouses. And in this political climate, we need to hold on to our pleasure and own it. Find it and access it whenever you can.”
Not sure what feeds that part of you? According to Roberts, “reading literotica can be a useful resource to explore what turns you on. It can also be a great way to pick up dirty talk.”
With that, here are some of our favorite literotica reads, not featuring Fabio. While these won’t appear in Oprah’s Book Club, they’re likely to lead to several Os, if you know what we mean.
Interesting note: “Emily Foster” is the pen name for Dr. Emily Nagoski, a sex educator and bestselling author of nonfiction on the science of women’s sexual well-being. She wrote Come As You Are, which is an incredible documentation of the science of female responsive desire and a reminder that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint. This gives How Not to Fall, which was released this summer, so much more street cred, doesn’t it? It’s a lusty tale of friendship focusing on a student-teacher relationship, and the exhilarating feeling of complicated love and mutual pleasure.
If short stories are more your jam, then this collection of short stories is likely the climactic tome of your wet dreams. Described as a book of erotica that explores every type of orgasm—from oral sensations to toy tricks—all are covered (or shall we say uncovered?).
It’s hard to believe this revolutionary book made its debut over 40 years ago, when it hit the shelves in 1973. The novel is truly literature (and required reading for everyone), but it’s also fucking hot. Isadora Wing is our protagonist as a wife arriving at a crossroads with her husband. After accompanying him at a work conference in Vienna, she ditches him and heads on a European adventure on her own in search of a man who frees her from her inhibitions. Jong sparked a sexual revolution with this book, removing shame from female sex, and encouraging us to instead embrace it and go after what we want. Preach.
A PR pro in Washington, D.C., for 30 years, author SaFleur (this is her pen name) struck a sensual chord with the second installment of the Elite Doms of Washington series. (Book 1 is called Lovely.) Consider this Scandal meets Shades of Grey. And, okay, so it’s not the most high-brow read, but sometimes indulging in guilty pleasures is important.
No list of literotica is complete without a nod to Literotica.com: an erotic adult site featuring crowdsourced erotic short stories for any mood. If you’re in a “quick and dirty” kind of mood, hit up Literotica.com’s complete index for a list of any fetish or taboo you might be into. This site is ideal for book commitment-phobes—it’s the booty call of digital erotica: bare-bones, to-the-point, and features all kinds of sex. PSA: Do not surf this at work.