Erotica Reads, Part I

*This blog contains adult themes.

“I disregard the proportions, the measures, the tempo of the ordinary world. I refuse to live in the ordinary world as ordinary women, To enter ordinary relationships. I want ecstasy. I am a neurotic—in the sense that I live in my world. I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself.”

“Had I not created my whole world. I would certainly have died in other people’s.”

Anais Nin

Erotica (noun): literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.

I decided not to tease out the acclaimed erotica versus the quick-and-dirty popular reads, which was my first inclination. There is an ocean of difference between the literary-based erotica and the stuff that’s just…well…hot. I want to share a healthy mix of both and let you discover which is which. It’s more fun that way, no? Although, the titles being what they are, it’s pretty easy to discern.

I’m going to refrain (or try to refrain) from delivering my two-cents on why a particular read works for me, or doesn’t. Just know, these erotica pieces have left an impression on me and, I believe, are worth sharing. These titles are not ranked, simply listed.

Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan
From Amazon:

A young woman discovers the boundless potential of her sexuality in this “lyrical and graphic” international bestselling classic novel of joyful eroticism (NPR).

It begins with nineteen-year-old Emmanuelle’s flight from London to join her husband in Bangkok. On the airplane, she is seduced by the passenger seated next to her. By the time they land, she has indulged her irrepressible and insatiable sexual appetite, embarking on an odyssey of hedonistic sensual discovery that takes her from the arms of her husband to intimate encounters with the wives of his business associates, to further explorations wherein the philosophical and aesthetic facets of eroticism are expounded—and enacted—to the fullest degree.

Little Birds by Anais Nin
From Amazon:

Evocative and superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality. From the beach towns of Normandy to the streets of New Orleans, these thirteen vignettes introduce us to a covetous French painter, a sleepless wanderer of the night, a guitar-playing gypsy, and a host of others who yearn for and dive into the turbulent depths of romantic experience.

Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
From Amazon:

In Delta of Venus, Anais Nin pens a lush, magical world where the characters of her imagination possess the most universal of desires and exceptional of talents. Among these provocative stories, a Hungarian adventurer seduces wealthy women then vanishes with their money; a veiled woman selects strangers from a chic restaurant for private trysts; and a Parisian hatmaker named Mathilde leaves her husband for the opium dens of Peru.

The Lover by Marguerite Duras
From Amazon:

An international best-seller with more than one million copies in print and a winner of France’s Prix Goncourt, The Lover has been acclaimed by critics all over the world since its first publication in 1984.

Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras’s childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.

The Sleeping Beauty series* (a total of four novels) by Anne Rice
From Amazon:

It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind’s unconscious. Now Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure, retells the Beauty story and probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince awakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty’s complete and total enslavement to him . . . as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.

*Hot. I tried to refrain, and failed. The Sleeping Beauty series is of the quick-and-dirty variety but well done nevertheless.

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 5 (an anthology)
From Amazon:

These sexy stories offer up wild, hot and steamy tales from today’s top authors. You’ll be swept away by the sexiest business deal ever, break the rules in a future world where skin on skin contact is forbidden, and discover the art of getting off by phone sex.

From threesomes to mermaid sex, fetishes, sex parties and much more, these authors steam up the pages with tales of trysts, love, and lust where nothing is held back. If you’re looking to escape from the everyday and discover what happens when women are ready to get totally outrageous, this book is for you.

Panic Snap (FYI – considered “dark erotica”) by Laura Reese
From Goodreads:

The accused murderess in a sensational trial, Carly Tyler waits outside a California courtroom as a jury decides her fate: Is she the depraved Madame de Sade of the newspaper headlines or the innocent victim of one wealthy family’s gothic past? Left for dead by the side of a road fifteen years earlier, she emerged from a coma with no memory and a face completely altered by the plastic surgery need to repair her injuries. Who is she and what happened to her? The trail leads her to a magnificent vineyard and its mysterious owner, James McGuane, a man of wealth and immense sexual charisma who holds the key to her past. But to unlock it, she must risk her life on a terrifying erotic journey that tears apart a dynasty and reveals the truth about an appalling murder.

The Story of O* by Pauline Reage
From Goodreads:

How far will a woman go to express her love? In this exquisite novel of passion and desire, the answer emerges through a daring exploration of the deepest bonds of sensual domination. “O” is a beautiful Parisian fashion photographer, determined to understand and prove her consuming devotion to her lover, René, through complete submission to his every whim, his every desire.

It is a journey of forbidden, dangerous choices that sweeps her through the secret gardens of the sexual underground. From the inner sanctum of a private club where willing women are schooled in the art of subjugation to the excruciating embraces of René’s friend Sir Stephen, O tests the outermost limits of pleasure. For as O discovers, true freedom lies in her pure and complete willingness to do anything for love.

*Not my favorite but is considered a classic. I do enjoy it’s more literary characteristics. I just don’t respond well to typical female-submission stories. The female perspective is so awkwardly stunted and disengaged. The Story of O is cliche but a classic cliche.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover* by D.H. Lawrence
From Goodreads:

Lawrence’s frank portrayal of an extramarital affair and the explicit sexual explorations of its central characters caused this controversial book, now considered a masterpiece, to be banned as pornography until 1960.

*Bit of a drudge but has its moments.

BONUS! Erotic Movie Recommendations:

Secretary, director Steven Shainberg
I love this movie. I’ve watched it many times and I always seem to find something new in it. I thoroughly understand Lee Halloway’s character (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and even Edward Grey’s character (James Spader). Lee Halloway’s eye contact at the end, though. Understanding who she is and thriving in that understanding: Hot.

Body Heat, director Lawrence Kasdan
I can’t believe I only saw this movie for the first time this past September. It was definitely a Netflix and chill night. I thought, ‘Kathleen Turner? An 80s classic? How have I not seen this?’ The movie itself is okay but it’s THAT scene (sorry y’all, it’s the best clip I could find) that actually inspired my poem, Pulse. My brain went: WORDS, WRITE WORDS NOW. I’m such a dork, that would be my brain’s response. It’s not a sex scene and it’s not a love scene, it’s erotica, the best of both worlds. I doubt a scene like that will ever be made again.

9 1/2 Weeks, director Adrian Lyne
A sad classic. To pursue, to possess, and still lose in the end. An erotic journey even so.

I’m soon to begin a new reading adventure, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Feel free to share your favorites. Recommendations are always welcome.

In an upcoming vlog, I plan to discuss what the genre means to me and how I hope to express myself in erotica as a writer.

Happy reading, y’all.
Christina Schmidt, MA