AVN News

Reading Rainbow: Moving Beyond '50 Shades of Grey'

What to recommend to fans who want to delve deeper into erotic literature

Jul 30th, 2012 07:51 AM

This article originally ran in the July 2012 issue of Intimate, a supplement of AVN magazine.

If you’re involved in any way in the creation, distribution or sales of pleasure products, no doubt you’ve spent some time thinking about how best to capitalize on the tidal wave of publicity generated by the Fifty Shades trilogy.

E.L. James’ BDSM love story has given vanilla couples around the globe permission to spice up their sex lives. But in addition to filling your shelves with bondage gear and toys mentioned in the novels, also consider stocking an assortment of books that might further fan the flames of interest sparked by Fifty Shades.

To compile a suggested reading list, we hit up a few experts in the field of literary erotica for some titles—either fiction or non-fiction—that retailers should stock and recommend to E.L. James devotees.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
Author and editor of erotic anthologies, and a columnist for SexIs Magazine (RachelKramerBussel.com)

Please, Sir: Erotic Stories of Female Submission | Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel | Cleis Press | I’d recommend my Cleis Press anthology to those who want a wide taste of ways women can submit, from newcomers to seasoned kinksters.

Orgasmic: Erotic Stories for Women | Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel | Cleis Press | This anthology isn’t focused on BDSM, though there’s some in it, but it is an exploration of erotica that would be of interest to readers who enjoyed Ana’s process of sexual discovery, and covers everything from sex in a chemistry lab to sex toys and more.


Janet W. Hardy
Author and editorial director of Greenery Press (GreeneryPress.com)

The New Bottoming Book and The New Topping Book | By Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton | Greenery Press | Anyone who found that Fifty Shades struck a chord for them should be looking into some of the excellent nonfiction that can help them bring their fantasies safely and excitingly into reality. I’d recommend my own and Dossie Easton’s books as the best foundation for the emotional journey such a reader is preparing to take. While there are quite a few good how-to books out there for BDSM play, these two have been called “why-to” books; they explain the ways in which the thrilling roles we assume during BDSM play can be based on mutual affection, respect and love, and suggest ways to communicate one’s desires to a lover and to understand what the lover needs in return.

Then there are several excellent basic BDSM texts out there. The most popular ones are SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman and Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon. Other good ones include Sensuous Magic: A Guide for Adventurous Lovers by Pat Califia, Consensual Sadomasochism: How to Talk About It and How to Do It Safely by William Henkin and Sybil Holiday, and Learning the Ropes by Race Bannon.

With that basic library of BDSM titles, our hypothetical Fifty Shades fan will be well equipped to venture out into the exciting world of her newfound fantasies.


Emily Morse
Author, sexpert, talk show host and co-star of Miss Advised, a docu-series about three single relationship experts struggling to make their own love connections, airing Mondays on Bravo (EmilyMorse.com)

Best Bondage Erotica 2012 | By Rachel Kramer Bussel | Cleis Press | This anthology of bondage stories is a great introduction into the world of bondage through the eyes of women. The writing shows that bondage is not limited to the physical restraints but primarily what’s going on in the mind: the body’s most predominant sex organ.

The Story of O | By Pauline Reage | Various Publishers | The Story of O truly stands the test of time. It’s always been controversial, especially when it was first released in 1954, but it’s still one of my favorites and new readers will feel the intense intimacy with “O.” This novel will alter your perception about how you feel about pleasure and pain, and if you can see through it, there are many relatable truths for everyone.


Carol Queen
Author, Good Vibrations staff sexologist, and co-founder of the Center for Sex and Culture  (CarolQueen.com)

Carrie’s Story | By Molly Weatherfield | Cleis Press | This will appeal to the fans of Grey’s spunky college student/older kinky mentor relationship—that’s exactly the dynamic explored here, and the writing and characterization are great and compelling. There is also a sequel, called Safe Word: An Erotic S/M Novel.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty | A.N. Roquelaure | Plume/Penguin | Interview with the Vampire author Ann Rice penned this under a pseudonym. Written in lush fairy-tale language, Beauty’s story of kinky submission is deliciously literary—AND scandalously arousing. (This is the first book of a trilogy; the other two are Beauty’s Punishment and Beauty’s Release.)

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism | By Philip Miller and Molly Devon | Mystic Rose | Books A fabulous and fun intro guide to BDSM which focuses more on sexuality, romance, and couples play than many such guides tend to do.

The Leather Daddy and the Femme | By Carol Queen | My own novel is an erotic romance-of-sorts, set in the queer community in San Francisco. It will be back in print this summer.

Kat Sanborn
“Evangelist” at Cleis Press who works in media, events and sales for the company (CleisPress.com)

He’s on Top: Erotic Stories of Male Dominance and Female Submission | Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel | Cleis Press | A steamy collection exploring the joys of topping from the male POV.

Best Bondage Erotica | Edited by Alison Tyler | Cleis Press | Racy reading—these stories span the world of bondage.

Surrender: Erotic Tales of Female Pleasure and Submission | Rachel Kramer Bussel | Cleis Press | Submit to the reading pleasure of Surrender, by the bestseller author of Please, Sir and Yes, Sir.


Cecilia Tan
Writer, sexuality activist and editor of more than 50 anthologies of erotica (Blog.CeciliaTan.com)

The Slave | By Laura Antoniou | Ingram| Originally published by Masquerade Books in the ’90s, it became an instant BDSM classic of female submission. Now it’s back in print and available through Ingram.

The Velderet: A Cybersex S/M Serial | By Cecilia Tan | Circlet Press | Originally serialized in Taste of Latex magazine, The Velderet is BDSM meets Star Wars, and perfect for beginners in the genre as the main female character is discovering BDSM for the first time.

Meeting the Master: Stories About Mastery, Slavery and the Darker Side of Desire | By Elissa Wald | Grove Press | Long before E.L. James or even Amanda Hocking, Wald’s short story collection was the original self-published racy sensation which then got picked up by a major publisher in 1998.


Kristina Wright
Author specializing in erotica whose short stories have been published in more than 80 anthologies (KristinaWright.com)

The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Roleplay and the Erotic Edge | By Tristan Taormino | Cleis Press | Tristan Taormino has compiled a collection of essays and how-to tutorials from several well-known sex educators, providing a delicious compendium for readers who want to go beyond fantasy and explore the kinky side in their own lives.

Belong to Me | By Shayla Black | Penguin | In this steamy erotic romance that delivers an action-packed plot, a FBI analyst goes undercover in a BDSM sex club and is reunited with the only man who might be able to top her.

Bound by Lust: Romantic Stories of Submission and Sensuality | Edited by Shanna Germain | Cleis Press | A collection of yummy BDSM-themed stories that will give readers a variety of naughty treats to enjoy as well as introducing them to new authors to follow.



Finally, a few favorites from the AVN Buyers Guide.

Naughty! The Xcite Guide to Sexy Fun | By Aishling Morgan | Xcite Books | This user-friendly book is designed for the curious amateur who wants to go beyond what is generally accepted as mainstream.

Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight | By Emily Morse and Jamye Waxman | Weldon Owen | Creative advice from some authoritative sexperts, with each of the 200 sexy suggestions accompanied by full-page, full-color illustrations that get the point across.