When Fifty Shades of Grey hit the shelves, everyone was talking about it. There was big time controversy about how scandalous and provocative the story was due to its strong use of S&M. You couldn't even buy it on the actual bookshelf. You had to ask for it behind the counter! But it's funny, really, because this isn't the first of its kind. If we look back in literary history, there were others that make Fifty Shades look pretty lame. And these sexy erotic novels are so much better. With stories dealing with older authoritative figures seducing naïve juveniles and women embarking in meaningless sex in order to gain respect from the higher-class, we've come across some intense erotica in the past that puts Fifty Shades of Grey to shame. Here are the 12 steamiest books of all time.
12 Delta of Venus By Anaïs Nin
This collection of alluring short stories is done by none other than the woman dubbed as the “mistress of erotic writing” - and for good reason. These sultry tales deal with tons of spicy sexcapades that will make anyone blush, including one about a lady who picks up people in a trendy, public restaurant to do naughty things to them in private. Oh how fun! This book was originally written back in the 40s for a “private collector” - it was too scandalous not be discreet - and then published to the public in the 70s.
11 Tropic of Cancer By Henry Miller
When this book originally came out in the 30s, it quickly got banned due to its shocking sexual content. And the ban actually lasted for 27 years! Thankfully, today we can devour it word-by-provocative word thanks to the whole freedom of speech thing the book helped achieve. The book follows Miller’s own life as a writer scrambling to make it in the publishing world in Paris. Throughout his literary journey, he encounters plenty of things he can write about including getting separated from his wife, living on the streets, and getting frisky with pretty much anyone who comes his way.
10 The Fermata By Nicholson Baker
Nicholson Baker is known to have some pretty scandalous material and this one is no exception. Noted as one of the author’s more dangerous stories, this book reels the reader in with a protagonist named Arno Strine, who at first glance might seem ordinary, but in reality is anything but. He works as a typist, but his real passion is his offbeat autobiography and the spicy sexual experiences that comes along the way. What makes this book so stellar is not just the sex, but the playfulness of the story that will have you laughing out loud while slightly turned on.
9 Lady Chatterley’s Lover By D.H. Lawrence
When this book originally came out, it was published privately in Italy - you know that means it was one heck of a juicy story. Then in 1960 it was officially published to the public in the United Kingdom, bringing a shocking story with plenty of steamy sexual romps. The storyline is about the intense physically relationship between an upper class female and working class male. That certainly helped stem controversy, but what really got people gasping about this book was the use of naughty words and graphic portray of sex that wasn’t seen in print back in those days.
8 Story of O By Pauline Réage
If you thought Fifty Shades of Grey was bad with its whole S&M thing, this novel will definitely make you flinch. This erotic tale published back in 1954 under a pen name captures sadomasochism the way Fifty Shades only wishes it could. The fashion photographer, O, decides she wants to be the submissive one of her relationship and embarks on a bold exploration of sex, domination, and forbidden fantasies. It’s dangerous, scary, extreme, and sexy, which makes for one awesome read you won’t be able to put down.
7 Lolita By Vladimir Nabokov
Published back in the 50s, this story has become a classic to the literature world. Not only is Nabokov’s writing impressive, but the story is mind-blowing - especially at that time when things like that weren’t usually discussed so freely. The novel is about Humbert, a professor in his late thirties that becomes infatuated with a young 12 year-old girl. And it doesn’t stop there. Humbert launches into a deep sexual relationship with the girl once he becomes - get this - her stepfather. Pretty crazy, right? This book’s controversial subject matter and notable unreliable narrator will have you racing to see what happens next.
6 Tampa By Alissa Nutting
And speaking of controversial, this book by Alissa Nutting is definitely up there. There was all sorts of talk - especially from women readers - when this book came out in 2013 due to the nature of the content: a female teacher seducing a young male student. Now, that’s a scandal. Taking place in hot, sticky Florida, the plot thickens as Celeste Price, a sensual babe of a teacher, lures a young boy in and embarks in a passionate love affair that is so intense it’s hard not to get engrossed. Nutting has the ability to make this book so descriptive, you’ll feel like you're actually there witnessing this dangerous act for yourself.
5 Inside Madeleine By Paula Bomer
Paula Bomer is no stranger to taking risks in her writing and this latest collection shows how true that is. She takes us in the minds of girls and the exploration of their bodies. All these stories offer plenty of lust-packed experiences as we witness girls exploring themselves, their girlfriends, and the opposite sex. And we see girls from all types of backgrounds here, too, ranging from those living alone in halfway houses to those living freely with their parents on Park Avenue. Each story is just as intense as the next, and equally intoxicating.
4 Women By Chloe Caldwell
This novella focuses in on a woman who falls in love with another woman, and showcases the intense journey she embarks throughout. And there’s quite a journey to follow here, too, as the woman starts to feel things for her friend, engages in her first passionate physical relationship with another female, and finds herself wanting - no scratch that - craving more. We see her going on several dates with other women - most of them quite hilarious - as she struggles to figure out who she is and what she really wants in herself and in a mate.
3 Fanny Hill By John Cleland
Originally published in London in 1748, Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (as it’s also known), is one seriously erotic book. Actually, it was banned for its explicit content, which kind of makes you want to read it even more, right? The story is about a young woman who gets into prostitution only to rise up to middle-class and socially-acceptable. During this expedition, we see her join in on several sexual scenes in dirty brothels and racy boudoirs, all in efforts to make it up on top.
2 The Lover By Marguerite Duras
Packed with scandal, passion, and love, this autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras is one you need on your bookshelves. And don’t just take our word for it. This book has received some great recognition over the years. Not only has it been translated in about 43 languages, but it was also awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1984. Here’s the gist: it’s based on Duras’s own childhood from prewar Indochina and focuses on a young French girl who falls in love with a Chinese man. The affair is intense and sexual, but the way it's written is completely magical.
1 The Sexual Life of Catherine M. By Catherine Millet
This is a book by well-known art critic Catherine Millet (editor of Art Press) and quickly became a national best-seller when it was published back in 2001. What makes it so engaging is that it revolves around the author’s own vigorous sex life, which is kind of impressive. She’s been through it all, including taking part in an orgy while at a Parisian restaurant, and having sex outside in public while in Italy. But the story doesn’t just portray a lot of meaningless sex, it also shows the struggles the author went through and the consequences these types of actions have cost her.