Erotic literature is tricky business. While everyone tends to think that their turn-ons are fairly universal, as it turns out, we each have unique preferences and our individual “recipe” for what turns us on can be quite varied!
Listen to the bed-time story version of this post:
Many women I work and speak with are curious about erotica, especially in written or audio forms, but just aren’t sure how to find content that will be appealing to them. (It’s not exactly something you can google without risking an unwanted eyeful!)
Can you judge an erotic book by its cover? Or are there other ways to help ensure that your turn-on actually turns on as you flip the pages?
Here are 4 questions to help you find erotica that whets your whistle.
1 — How long of an erotic runway do you need?
Do you love to get immersed in a story, savor the plot as it develops, and build a slow heat of longing for the characters to finallllllllly get busy?
Or are you looking for a written quickie, where you’re complete from turn on to cum down in 20 pages or less?
Or, maybe you’re somewhere in between; you want sex to happen earlier in the story, but are game to have the plot extend over a few reading sessions.
It’s important to know what tends to get you in the mood so that you’re looking for the best-fitting format. Written erotica is available from short-form digital blog posts all the way to fully developed novels, and while some folks are only satisfied after a meaty meal of sub-plots and extensive build-up, others get the most erotic nutrition from a salty snack of get-down-to-business.
Based on what your preferences are, you may be on the hunt for erotic blog posts, erotic poetry, erotic short story anthologies, romance novels, erotic non-fiction, sexy beach reads, or—for those with a more visual predilection—graphic novels, or even erotic art coffee table books.
I’ve listed some of my favorites at the end of this article, but—buyer beware—my turn-ons might not match yours!
You can use my Erotic Temperature 🔥 scale to gauge the runway length/sexual intensity of each selection.
2 — What’s your kink?
Maybe you loooove to hear hot stories of long-term lovers who keep the erotic fires burning. Or perhaps it gives you tingles to read about same-sex adventures, play parties, threesomes, BDSM, or sexy sci-fi. Whatever your kink may be (no matter how quirky or unique you may think it is), there is probably an entire genre of erotica dedicated to it.
You might not even know your kink until you read about something and notice your body responding to it! This is why erotic short story anthologies that cross genres can be illuminating and fun to (s)explore.
Note that your relational preferences might not be reflected by your erotica turn-ons. For example, I know many heterosexual women who enjoy lesbian erotica. Your erotic kinks do not necessarily mean anything about who you are, your gender or sexuality, or how you choose to structure relationships in your actual life.
The less shame we hold onto about our turns-ons, the less sexuality has to live in the shadows – where it does the most damage.
3 — When was the content written, and by whom?
Back in the golden days of romance novels (hello, mid-eighties) there was a whole lot of damsel-in-distress-male-saviorism going on. Orgasms were instantaneous, there was ne’er a condom in sight, and the women were all designed for the male gaze. Prior to that, much of the erotic literature was written by men, for men, and even female writers like Anaïs Nin wrote for a mostly male readership.
If reading about those dynamics does not float your boat, then look for more contemporary creations written by someone who shares your sexuality and gender preferences.
There’s erotic literature written specifically for (and by): trans and non-binary folks, LGBTQI, the BBIPOC community, the neurodivergent crew, specific religious preferences, hobbies and interests, and more. An author who shares your worldview or preferences is probably more likely to understand what will rock your socks.
Try searching for “[your peeps/hobby/interest] + erotic literature” and see what the search results proffer. If you want to aim for a less risky venue, try searching from within the annals of BookShop.org or Amazon.
Just to test this theory, I googled “Knitting Erotica” and found this on Amazon:
When Amirah doubts her girlfriend’s knowledge of complex knitting patterns, Shaniq must put her skills to the test in order to prove the deftness and sensitivity of her fingers. A sensual and sexy journey into stitches.
I’m telling you, there’s truly something for everyone!
4 — Do you have any triggers to avoid?
Erotic literature can be incredibly triggering if you don’t know what to expect going into it. Even “classic” erotica works like Delta of Venus are close to unpalatable for many people, myself included.
(I came across it as a recommendation on someone’s blog and whew! with my traumas and family history, it was NOT for me… All in the name of research for you, dear reader. May my guidance here help prevent you from a similar experience!)
Stumbling into triggering content is one of the primary reasons that a turn-on can shift into a turn-off or downright nervous system cascade so quickly.
That’s why I love anthologies like Rose Caraway’s The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, which prefaces each short story with a “catalog card” that lists the story’s genre/category and primary subject matter.
You’ll be able to tell whether it’s a no-go for you without even turning the page:
Once you trust an author or editor, you can look for more works by them, and peruse the “you might also like…” recommendations that appear on bookshop.org or amazon.com.
As with any sexual experience, you get to say NO or GO at any time.
Plus, there is still so much shame, embarrassment, and guilt when it comes to talking about, reading about, or learning about sexuality.
(Just to be clear, I do not condone toxic, harmful, and traumatizing dynamics or activities.)
My mission with my work and with articles like this one is to NORMALIZE talking about healthy sex, the erotic, and sensuality. I believe that our world will be a safer, more vibrant, accepting, and ultimately better place for ALL beings when humans bring sexuality out of the shadows and into the light (with boundaries and consent, of course).
So… what has my research revealed?
My favorite erotic literature!
As part of my research, I collected a wide range of erotic literature to test out for you. (Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!)
Many of my finds did not make the cut… sometimes I didn’t even make it past the first few pages!
But, here are the ones that do it for me 👇
My kinks and turn-ons? Light BDSM, realistic sex experiences, dirty talk, romantic arousal building, devotion, exhibitionism, roleplay, toys, consensual fantasy enactment.
If you trust my taste in other things, you may enjoy these selections as well.
Short-Form Erotic Blog Posts:
Erotic Temperature: Spicy Hot 🔥 🔥 🔥
TBH, I haven’t found a whole lot that does it for me in this department… Bellesa bills itself as erotica and porn by and for women, and some of it is resonant-ish, but it takes a lot of sifting, unsatisfying clicks, AND some seriously—possibly intrusive or traumatic—graphic imagery with their ads.
I aim to fill this gap with some sexy, stimulating, trauma-aware, and deliciously written (and audio) erotic content right here. Stay tuned!
Erotic Temperature: Mild-to-Medium Heat 🔥 🔥
Erotic Short-Story Compilation:
Medium Heat 🔥 🔥
I’m reading others, but many compilations end up being mostly lackluster with just a few well-written pieces. I haven’t found a solid recommendation yet aside from The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.
I appreciate how each story is categorized ahead of time, and the stories themselves are unique, intriguing, and I’ve yet to run into one that totally turned me off. (To be fair, I did skip one based on its catalog card description.)
Sexy Beach Reads:
Erotic Temperature: Mild Heat 🔥
These have a long-ish build up, are delightfully well-written, and contain characters you actually care about. Each of these evoked a broad range of emotions and left me feeling grateful, aroused, more engaged as a partner, and with Rebecca Searle’s books, an ever-more expanding belief in magic.
I enjoyed each author so much that I went on to read almost everything else they’ve written. These are my favorites.
Erotic Temperature: See below
I hate to admit it, but even though some of these books were problematic, and—especially with 50 Shades, soooooo badly written—they still got my juices flowing. Whoops!
Other non-sexual-but-erotic finds:
Deborah Harkness’s books aren’t erotic literature, but the characters and plot in her All Souls Trilogy activated something deep within me and helped me completely reinvent my life—sex life included… so I’m including them here. If you wish Twilight were written better, with characters and dynamics that you can empathize with, you might really enjoy this witch-and-vampire saga.
I also found Starhawk’s Fifth Sacred Thing to be incredibly activating, inspiring, and arousing. I relished her portrayal of a post-apocalyptic utopian uprising that happens to include a group of friends who support each other in every way as they conspire against a dystopian foe.
I’m currently reviewing quite a few 🔥 🔥 🔥 extra spicy pieces of erotic poetry and literature, and I’ll add them to this post if they make the cut!
Do you have any favorite erotic literature or authors that I missed? Let me know through the contact page and I’ll compile a list of reader recommendations in another post!
To your erotic aliveness,