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Once upon a time, I was a voracious reader. Recently, my book consumption has dwindled, but my love for lit hasn't and these six books are some of my sexiest favorites.
If you like your reading list to come with a splash of sex appeal, pick up one of these six books. From historical sex scandals to scientific musing on what turns us on to sexy poems (Yes! Poems!), there's something here for you -- I pinky promise.
1. A Treasury of Royal Scandals
A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors is pure raunchy fun. Case in point -- this excerpt from Chapter One:
There are innumerable scandals inside the clever cover of this book and countless passages you'll want to read aloud (while giggling) to your fellow beach-chair-chilling friends.
From the Romans and their pleasure islands (I'm not joking, they had whole islands reserved for orgies) to Henry VIII's unceasing appetite for wives, A Treasury of Royal Scandals cavorts through the history of the Western World's nobility and keeps you laughing the whole way.
I've mentioned my love for Rikki Ducornet and her incredible work before, but it would be literary blasphemy not to include Netsuke in this roundup. It's incredibly sexy -- dark, complex, and narrated by a sex-addicted and reprehensible psychoanalyst -- and I can't recommend it enough.
Rikki Ducornet's prose is incredibly erotic, even without the torrid narrative that brilliantly unravels -- much like the narrator's grasp on reality -- until it explodes into a hundred tainted lovely fragments in the story's final pages.
Plus, it's a novella! It's a quick read. A quick, beautiful, erotic, and shattering read.
3. A Billion Wicked Thoughts
This one is for all you neuroscience inclined and non-fiction enthusiasts. In the style of sexy science-y (and also highly recommended by yours truly) books like Dirty Minds, The Male Brain, and Bonk, A Billion Wicked Thoughts examines human sexuality with "the mountains of new data on human behavior available [on the web]."
It doesn't proudly proclaim itself to be "THE BOOK ON SEX" on the back cover for nothing. Written by two neuroscientists with the tongue-in-cheek style of clever indie authors, A Billion Wicked Thoughts is praised by PhD-holding authors and glossy magazine columnists alike.
From sexual fantasies to porn consumption to furries (yes, those furries), this book is chock full of knowledge and is also vastly entertaining.
4. Thérèse Raquin
If you like your books to come with accompanied by a feature film version, pick up a copy of Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola. This book's depiction of a sexually frustrated woman who traded her sexless marriage and chronically ill, douche-canoe husband for an affair with a passionate painter was considered shocking at its time of publication (1867).
Since then, Thérèse Raquin has been adapted into more than three films as well as countless stage productions and an opera. Best described (IMHO) as Pride and Prejudice if P&P was a sexed up murder mystery, this novel is hefty and will be most pleasing to fans of historical fiction, the Brontë sisters, and anyone who thought Mill on The Floss could have used a wee bit more sexy fun time.
Once you've turned the last page and absorbed the shock of the twist ending, I recommend a viewing of its 2013 film adaptation -- an "erotic thriller" starring Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy! What?!), and the eternally fabulous Jessica Lange. The movie is just as sexy as the book. For proof, take a gander at the movie poster above.
5. The Hellbound Heart
This one is not at all for the faint of heart -- this is not a pun, but the actual truth. Known for his skillful entwinement of terror (read: genuinely horrifying) and sex (read: lots and lots of sex with people, demons, ghosts, who and whatever), Clive Barker is a master of his craft. Most everyone is in agreement:
To get an idea of how shocking and scary this novella is, consider the fact that the Hellraiser movies are based on it.
If you find yourself asking why a book so saturated with horror is this book on a sexy reading list, it's because Barker is (again, IMHO) one of the best horror writers in the English language. His prose is unendingly and achingly sensual. Consider these words from his introduction to one of my favorite collections of horror stories, The Books of Blood:
"We need to touch the darkness in our souls now and again; it's a way to reconnect with the primal self, the self that probably existed before we could shape words, that knows the world contains great light and great darkness and that one cannot exist without the other."
Get your primal self on with The Hellbound Heart (and definitely read it in the daytime).
Not everyone is a poetry person, but damn it, these poems by Rebecca Hazelton (I know her in real life! She's lovely!) are the perfect way to round off this round up. Published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2013, it is almost impossible for reviewers not to mention how sexy Vow is, as these hella sensual reviews (emphasis mine) reveal:
"The siren call of Rebecca Hazelton's lush second collection, Vow, is impossible to resist...Vow is an extended meditation via exquisite metaphor, sly humor, racy eroticism, and devastating elegy on the complicated nature of desire and domesticity." - Erika Meitner
"From one of the best young poets writing in America, the poems in Vow are brainy, half-feral, sad, and sensuous, and often all at once." - Alan Michael Parker
"Rebecca Hazelton's poetry is witty, uninhibited, and dense yet full of breath. These poems hint at a love triangle in which there are no winners. Vow is one of the best second collections I have read in a long time." - Sandra Beasley
Love triangles in which there are no winners? Racy eroticism? Sensuous poems? Yes, please. Absolutely. Please sir, can I have some more? I get that these are unapologetically leading questions, but #sorrynotsorry.
If you aren't completely convinced by aforementioned love triangles in which there are no winners, racy eroticism, and sensuous poems, read "Questions About the Wife" and "Book of Memory," two poems from Vow over at The Poetry Foundation and see for yourself how wonderful this collection is.
What Should You Read Next (After All These, Of Course)
What sexy books should I have included in this sexed up roundup? Have you previously fallen in lust with any of these titles? If you're not so much into sensuality, let me know what you'd like to see in the next edition of What to Read Next.
Amber tweets about poetry and fiction (but mostly food and corgis) at @amberdeexterous.